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Dog Cancer – Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

Dog Cancer – Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

Dog cancer is a scary diagnosis that no owner wants to happen to their pets. It is a common thing that can be detected in dogs of any age, usually among older dogs. However, as much as dog cancer can bring uncertainty and fear, you should also look at it as a way of hope – since early detection can prevent it from worsening and can be treated right away. This is also why scheduling regular checkups at the veterinarian is important to check for early signs of diseases, illnesses, or dog cancer. 

In this article, we’ll be discussing the common dog cancer symptoms, the diagnosis and treatments, as well as what to prepare for you and your dog when it comes to dog cancer. 

Common Types Of Cancer In Dogs 

Similar to humans, dogs can also get cancer. It manifests in different ways and in different parts of the body. Sometimes, it also grows from inside the body or in unsuspecting places, such as the back of the knees or inside the mouth. They can develop either benign or malignant tumours, according to Dr. Kelly R. Hume from Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, New York. 

The most common manifestations of cancers are skin cancers in dogs. They appear as bumps or lumps on their skin, which can also be seen as mast skin disease. The most common cancers for dogs are lymphoma (malignant cancer of lymph nodes), mast cell tumours, and osteosarcoma (bone cancer). 

Studies show that dog cancer is the leading cause of death in dogs aged 10 years and above. The good thing though is that half of the cancers can be cured or treated in their early stages as long as they are detected as soon as possible.

Below are the common types of dog cancers:

  1. Hemangiosarcoma – A dog cancer that shows up as a tumour in the cells that line blood vessels. Commonly susceptible for any dog age or breed, but usually shows up in middle-aged to elderly dogs.
  2. Anal Sac Carcinoma – This dog cancer is usually found in unneutered male dogs. 
  3. Lymphoma – A type of dog cancer that affects any dog at any age. It shows up on the dog’s skin as lymph nodes or swollen glands, usually on the neck, front of the shoulders, and behind the knees. Sometimes, they manifest inside the chest or abdomen. 
  4. Mast Cell Tumours – Mast cells can be found in tissues all over the body and are responsible for allergic reactions. They typically form tumours on the skin that are either benign or malignant. 
  5. Osteosarcoma – The most common dog cancer also known as bone cancer. Most commonly occurs in larger breed dogs, and shows itself in different parts of the body, particularly around the shoulders, wrists, and knees.
  6. Bladder Cancer – Some breeds are more susceptible to this dog cancer. A slow developing cancer that shows up after 3-6 months.
  7. Malignant Histiocytosis – Another type of dog cancer that affects big sports-type breeds. Usually shows on lesions on the spleen, lymph nodes, lung, bone marrow, skin, brain, and joints. Once it affects an organ, it can spread to other multiple organs.
  8. Oral Malignant Melanoma – A type of oral tumour that invades the tissue and bone that spreads all over the type of the body if left untreated. 
  9. Soft Tissue Sarcoma – A type of dog cancer that shows up as tumours in the muscles or connective tissues. They can be commonly seen on the legs, chest, and abdomen.
  10. Mammary Carcinoma – This dog cancer is usually found in non-spayed female dogs where they develop malignant mammary tumours. 

Symptoms And Signs Of Cancer In Dogs

Experts say that there isn’t an exact cause that affects how cancer develops in dogs. However, some may say it has something to do with genetic diseases as a result of a mutation that occurs in the cells. That being said, cancer is formed through the uncontrollable growth of cells, which can originate from any of the body’s tissues. It can either be randomly developed, triggered by environmental factors, or it is inherited. 

Dog cancer signs can show up in different ways. Some are easier to spot, while others may need a closer look, otherwise, you’ll miss it. The symptoms of cancers in dogs can manifest depending on the factors. Below is the list of dog cancer signs to look out for:

  1. Unusual lumps or bumps that look like swollen lymph nodes show up underneath the dog’s skin
  2. Abnormal odours that come from the mouth, nose, ears, or any part of the body
  3. Sudden change in weight and decreased appetite
  4. Abnormal discharge coming from different parts of the body
  5. Wounds or bruises not healing
  6. Difficulty in breathing or coughing
  7. Sudden loss of energy or lethargy
  8. Changes in bathroom behaviour
  9. Evidence of discomfort or pain
  10. Stomach issues such as vomiting and/or diarrhea

If you see these signs or symptoms, especially if it’s out of the norm when it comes to your dog’s normal behaviour, it is recommended that you book an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible. 

Treatment Options for Dog with Cancer

Once you take your dog for an appointment with your veterinarian, and they detect a malignant tumour, the next step is to figure out what type of treatment will be given. It depends on the severity of the tumour found, the kind of tumour, and the stage of cancer. Other factors such as the dog’s breed, age, and general health can influence the treatment.

Here are some of the common treatments for dog cancer:

  1. Surgery
  2. Chemotherapy
  3. Radiation therapy
  4. Holistic therapy
  5. Immunotherapy

Alongside those treatments, veterinarians also prescribe medications. In the end, the overall health of the dog plays a huge factor in the chosen therapy that will be applied to your dog. 


Dog cancer is a common disease that can happen to any dog. It can be a scary thing to deal with, but knowing what to do or how to detect the signs is one of the most important to know to detect cancer in its early stages. There are also common dog cancer types that owners should be aware of. Next, look for the common dog cancer signs and symptoms that usually manifest in the dog’s body and behaviour. If you find them abnormal, make sure to visit your veterinarian, so they can diagnose properly and recommend a treatment that cures cancer. 

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