Oncological diseases have always existed, but in recent decades they have literally become the scourge of our time. Unfortunately, cancer does not spare our smaller brothers — it affects both Pets and wild animals. But if a sick creature is doomed in nature, Pets have a chance to recover or at least extend their life.
Cancer treatment is complex and expensive in both humans and animals. The problem is further complicated by the fact that not all veterinary clinics have the necessary equipment, medicines, and specialists who can diagnose, operate, and treat cancer in dogs.
In saving the life of an animal, care and observation of the owners play a huge role. If they are able to recognize the signs of trouble early, the dog has a chance of recovery.
But cancer diseases are so insidious that their signs in most cases appear already in the late stages, when treatment becomes ineffective and it is no longer about recovery, but at least about prolonging the existence or ending the torment.
Causes of the disease
No one knows the exact causes of cancer yet. It is believed that the factors that “start” the process of formation and development of pathological cells are the following reasons:
- Excessive sun exposure.
- Poor nutrition.
- Poor environmental conditions.
- Toxins that enter the body with water, food, and medicines.
- Bad habits.
- Exposure to heavy metals and much more.
Older and weakened animals are most susceptible to diseases, although cancer does not suffer from selectivity and affects both elderly dogs, and young and strong dogs, and even puppies.
Most often, dogs have the following forms and types of malignant neoplasms:
- Malignant histiocytoma.
- Breast cancer.
- Mast cell tumor.
- Cancer of the prostate.
- Transitional cell cancer.
Each of the types of this disease has its own specifics and requires a special method of treatment, the use of specific medications.
What breeds are susceptible to
Cancer can occur in any purebred dog and in mongrels, too, but it is believed that the following breeds are most susceptible to neoplasms:
- St. Bernards.
- Golden retrievers.
- Boston Terriers.
Belonging to a particular breed does not mean that the dog will certainly get cancer, but it is at risk and requires more attention to its health.
Oncological neoplasms are dangerous because in the first stages of the disease they occur without pronounced symptoms. But an experienced and attentive owner can note the following deviations in the behavior or appearance of the animal:
- Digestive disorders — vomiting after eating, unexplained loss of appetite, strange behavior after eating, allowing you to suspect that the dog is suffering from pain. Constipation, diarrhea can be an indication of the presence of cancer in the gastrointestinal tract.
- Problems with urination and defecation can be caused by a tumor of the prostate or rectum.
- Cough, bleeding from the mouth, the feeling that the dog is choking on food and water most often occur when the lungs and other respiratory organs are affected, laryngeal cancer, tumors of the jaw, tongue, lip, nose.
- Changes in gait, wobbly, unsteady movements, and lameness indicate damage to the bone system.
- Neoplasms under the skin and on the skin, changes in pigmentation can be symptoms of various types of cancer, including skin cancer.
- Pain — the dog can suffer greatly from pain in the affected parts of the body, as well as from General intoxication, which is expressed by severe weakness, exhaustion and apathy.
- An unpleasant smell coming from an animal or from certain areas affected by a tumor. Usually indicates the collapse of the neoplasm, often accompanied by breast cancer, lesions of the mouth, skin.
Depending on the stage of the cancer process, the manifestations may be pronounced or subtle, with inflammation of the lymph nodes in the General process and metastases in the terminal stages of the disease.
Diagnostics in a veterinary clinic
In order to cure cancer, an experienced specialist and a laboratory of the appropriate level are required. After a visual inspection, the veterinarian will send the dog for examination and prescribe laboratory tests.
You will need to analyze blood, feces and urine, depending on the type of disease, to exclude other problems, conduct ultrasound diagnostics, perform radiography if there is a suspicion of a process in the bones or metastases in them.
If it is difficult to identify the cause of the disease, the PSA is sent for computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging. Not all clinics can do this, so the diagnosis of cancer in dogs has its own difficulties, especially in small settlements “in the Outback”.
Treatment method and prognosis
Treatment of cancer patients is almost the same for both humans and animals. It is always complex and consists of the following stages:
- Surgical removal of the tumor. The neoplasm must be extracted with part of the healthy tissue to protect against possible penetration of cancer cells into the surrounding tissues and the spread of the process.
- Irradiation with a special device. This is not possible in all veterinary clinics. The method is not used for all types of cancer and is not applicable for some types of tumor localization.
- Chemotherapy. It is the use of toxic drugs that can kill cancer cells, destroy or reduce tumors and metastases, as well as prevent their formation and further spread.
You can not give the dog medicines intended for people, because, despite the General principles of exposure to tumors, the type of medicine, dosage and intensity of treatment is selected only by a veterinarian. This is due to the fact that the dose is calculated only for a specific dog, taking into account its weight, age, General health and the presence of additional problems.
If the doctor prescribes painkillers, there is also a risk of overdose. Owners should get full advice from a specialist on how they should act in certain situations.
Treatment of any form of cancer is extremely complex, long-term and expensive. However, there are some types of this terrible disease that are easier to treat than others and can be cured completely or give a long remission. These include skin cancer in the initial stages.
If the neoplasm was small, the area of the lesion was insignificant, the stage was early, without the formation of metastases, then the dog has a good chance of recovery.
What to do at home
Care for a sick animal should be especially careful, especially if it is undergoing chemotherapy or radiation. During this period, drafts and dampness are particularly dangerous, as pneumonia can very quickly kill the dog. This is due to the fact that its defenses and immunity are almost killed by the disease and specific medications.
The dog needs to be provided with a warm and quiet, shaded place, constant access to clean drinking water. Since her hair may fall out, you need to often clean her corner. If the doctor has prescribed any medications, then they should be given strictly according to his instructions.
If the animal is treated after surgery, the care is exactly the same as after any other surgical intervention. The joints should be thoroughly treated with special disinfectant compositions, the appearance of redness, blood, pus, or when disturbed the animal should immediately call the vet.
After the operation, the dog needs to eat well to speed up recovery and strengthen its weakened immune system. The doctor will give you the necessary recommendations for feeding, depending on which organs were affected by cancer. There are some subtleties and restrictions in feeding if the dog had cancer of the digestive or excretory organs.
Cancer is terrible because it causes incredible suffering to patients. If it becomes obvious that there is no hope for recovery, and the dog is suffering a lot, it is much more humane to stop its suffering.
In cancer, the most dangerous complication is metastases, which lead to the spread of cancer neoplasms throughout the body of the dog. This leads to generalization of the process, which is expressed by increased intoxication. If organs such as the brain, lungs, liver, and rarely the heart are affected, the dog’s fate is predetermined. The duration of her remaining life is calculated in months, and sometimes weeks.
Bone lesions lead to pathological fractures that do not heal. Problems with the digestive system are extremely exhausting for both the dog and its owners. She literally melts before our eyes, actually dying of exhaustion.
Since cancer is only susceptible to the first two stages, there is no question of recovery if there are terminal stages. You can only provide your pet with a quiet, painless last days of life surrounded by loving and caring owners.
As such, there are no preventive measures against cancer. However, you can track the health of your pet. It is important to provide them with a good, high-quality and balanced diet, a healthy lifestyle, timely treatment and excellent care.
To prevent cancer, you should avoid risk factors, such as not keeping your dog in direct sunlight. It is proved that malignant melanoma is much more likely to occur with regular increased radiation, especially when getting sunburn.
More than others, “naked” and short-haired dogs are susceptible to this, especially with light skin and hair. White dogs and cats often have pink noses, which are very affected by the sun’s rays. With repeated burns, the risk of cancer increases several times.
Although being in the sun is good for the animal’s health, keeping it in direct sunlight is very dangerous. In hot countries, light dogs should wear hats if they go to the beach or take long walks with them. By the way, the local population has long practiced such methods, supplying horses and donkeys with straw hats.
There are a number of studies that claim that fortifying food with vitamins and antioxidants reduces the risk of developing malignant tumors. In any case, before taking any steps, it is imperative to consult with your veterinarian.
Hi, my name is Mike Fletcher. I am 36 years old and I’m a veterinarian at a veterinary clinic in Granby Colorado. And this is my blog about Pets. I hope I can answer your questions here.