7 Common Cancers in Dogs

One out of every four canines will experience some type of cancer in their lifetime. Just like us, dogs can develop a range of cancer types that can affect numerous parts of the body. Also, just like it is for us, some types of canine cancer can be more common, some can be more concerning, and some can be more easily treated than others. While this list is not all-inclusive, here is a look at seven common canine cancers and treatment options.

1. Canine Lymphoma

About 24 percent of canine cancer is canine lymphoma, making it the most common form of cancer among the canine species. This form of cancer may be found in the spleen, lymph nodes, GI tract and bone marrow, to name a few. Symptoms of lymphoma can be mild; you may only notice fatigue or lack of appetite. However, in more progressed stages, lymphoma can affect vital organs and lead to more worrisome symptoms like difficulty breathing and lethargy. Chemotherapy is the most common cancer treatment. 

2. Osteosarcoma (Bone Cancer)

Bone cancer usually shows up as a skeletal tumor, and this form of cancer is more prevalent among larger breed dogs like Scottish Deerhounds and Rottweilers. The osteosarcoma tumors are considered highly aggressive and can spread to other parts of the dog's body. You may notice symptoms such as limb lameness, swelling, and obvious signs your dog is in pain. Amputation of the affected limb and concurrent chemotherapy are typical routes of treating bone cancer. About 16 to 28 percent of dogs live for at least two years with this conjunctive cancer treatment plan. 

3. Melanoma

Melanoma is a form of skin cancer, and in dogs, the cancer usually shows up in areas most exposed to the sun. For example, toenail and eye melanomas can be common among some breeds. However, short-haired breeds, such as beagles, can be more prone to melanoma tumors on their skin. Melanoma can also how up in your dog's mouth. Usually, melanoma will be a visible issue, and if left untreated, melanoma can spread to other parts of the dog's body. Cancer treatment may involve surgical removal and chemotherapy drugs. 

4. Mast Cell Tumors (MCTs)

Mast cell tumors are the result of cells that bundle together to create a mass. Even though these tumors are often benign, they can also be malignant. Usually, MCTs will show up on the skin, so visible lumps or masses should be evaluated by your dog's vet. MCTs are more common in older dogs, but younger dogs can have these tumors just the same. Boxers, Labrador Retrievers, and some types of Terriers may be genetically predisposed to this form of canine cancer. Usually, surgical removal is enough to treat the problem, but MCTs that are malignant can also lead to cancer in other parts of the body like the lungs, intestines, and other vital systems. 

5. Hemangiosarcoma (HSA)

HSA is found in canines more than in any other animal. The tumors that develop with HSA can show up around the eyes and abdomen, but also near or on the spleen. Typically, HSA is found due to visible cues, but may also be diagnosed after the accidental discovery of a mass during a typical x-ray or ultrasound. This form of cancer may be more common among male dogs than females. Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, and most large-breed dogs can be genetically predisposed to HSA, but any canine breed can be at risk. Surgical removal is usually recommended as cancer treatment, but chemotherapy may also be necessary. 

6. Anal Sac Cancer

Anal sac cancer can affect either one or both of the anal sacs and is just as common among male and female dogs. Even though anal sac cancer is not as common as other forms of canine cancer, it can be one of the more worrisome because the cancer often spreads to other parts of the body. Symptoms can include straining with bowel movements, visible swelling around the anal area, and thin stools. Spaniel breeds may be most at risk for this form of canine cancer, and the average age at diagnosis is 10 years old. Anal sac removal, chemotherapy, and radiation may be used to treat cancer that has not metastasized to other areas of the dog's body. 

7. Bladder Cancer

Dogs can develop transitional cell carcinoma (TCC) that affects the bladder. Initial signs of a bladder tumor may be mild; you may only notice that your dog needs to urinate more often. In more progressed stages, bladder cancer can cause complete bladder disruption and the dog may not be able to urinate at all. Older female dogs can be more susceptible, and certain breeds are more at risk than others, such as the Scottish Terrier and Shetland Sheepdog. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, chemotherapy, and surgery may be recommended for cancer treatment. 

Other Forms of Canine Cancer 

  • Breast Cancer 
  • Liver Cancer 
  • Testicular Cancer 
  • Soft Tissue Sarcoma 
  • Stomach Cancer 
  • Thyroid Cancer

Supporting Your Dog After a Cancer Diagnosis is the Key to Quality of Life

Dogs, like humans, can live with cancer and some types of cancer come along with manageable symptoms. Talk to your dog's vet about the specific type of cancer your dog has and educate yourself about the treatments available. Additionally, look into lifestyle changes that may improve your dog's quality of life. Your dog’s diet, for example, may help to keep them at a healthy weight, retain muscle mass, and get the proper nutrients to support the best possible outcome. 

At Canine Biologics, we focus on creating integrated nutrition plans for dogs with cancer. Our plans can work alongside cancer treatments or simply offer proper nutrition for a dog with an aggressive form of cancer that is not getting formal treatment. We create a custom nutrition plan that includes food and supplements containing ingredients hand-picked for their profound benefits. If you would like to know more about supporting your dog nutritionally after a cancer diagnosis, reach out to us for more information or get started with the Canine Biologics Nutrition Plan Builder