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Cancer in Dogs: Knowledge is Power in Protecting Your Furry Friend

Cancer in Dogs: Knowledge is Power in Protecting Your Furry Friend

May 31, 2024

Cancer, a frightening word for any pet owner, is a prevalent health concern for our beloved canine companions. At Bully Sticks Direct, we share your deep love and concern for your dog's well-being. Although we can’t cure disease, we can do our part to offer all-natural dog treats that bring them joy without added preservatives, hormones, flavors, and color. We are committed to keeping our treats simple for the sake of your pup’s health and happiness!

This blog equips you with knowledge about cancer in dogs, including risk factors, signs, types, prevention, and what to do if your dog is diagnosed.

Understanding Risk Factors for Cancer in Dogs

While the exact causes of cancer in dogs remain under investigation, several factors can increase the risk of your furry friend falling victim to such a disease. Factors like age and breed are worth taking into consideration before you decide to adopt.

Age: Just like humans, dogs are more susceptible to cancer as they age. Over 50% of dogs over 10 years old develop some form of the disease.

Breed Predisposition: Certain breeds like Golden Retrievers, Boxers, German Shepherds, and Rottweilers seem to have a higher chance of developing specific cancers. This is likely due to a combination of genetics and larger body size. It is crucial to research the breed you’re interested in before adoption.

Genetics: Hereditary factors can play a large role in contracting disease, particularly in specific breeds. Responsible breeders should screen their breeding stock for known genetic markers linked to cancer and make all adoptive parents aware of red flags in their litter’s genetic history. Don’t hesitate to ask your breeder for details if none are given. Genetic history may be harder to access with mutts, strays, and shelter pups.

Diet and Nutrition: A diet low in essential nutrients and high in processed foods might contribute to risk of cancer and other diseases like high blood pressure and obesity. Providing a well-balanced diet rich in antioxidants and whole foods can help! It is important to be mindful of your pup’s diet, even when you’re treating them to a delicious bully stick. When looking for a healthy dog treat brand, keep an eye out for brands that promise no added preservatives, colors, dyes, flavors, or hormones.

Exposure to Toxins: Environmental toxins like herbicides, pesticides, and secondhand smoke may elevate the risk of cancer. As hard as it can be with a curious nose sniffing around, try to limit your dog's exposure to these harmful substances both indoors and outdoors by keeping toxic plants and household items out of reach.

Weight: Obesity can be a contributing factor in some cancers. Maintaining a healthy weight through proper diet and exercise is crucial for overall health. Adopting a dog is a commitment to their lifelong health and well-being. If you’re looking for fun ways to fit more exercise in, check out our blog!

Early Detection is Key: Signs and Symptoms of Cancer in Dogs

Early detection is critical for the successful treatment of cancer in dogs. No matter their age or breed, be observant of any changes in your dog's behavior or physical condition. If you notice something unusual, keep a close eye on your pup and bring the details to your vet’s attention. Below are a few characteristics to keep an eye out for.

  • Lumps or Bumps: New lumps or bumps under the skin, especially if they grow rapidly, can be a warning sign. Regularly petting your dog and checking for any abnormalities is important.
  • Weight Loss or Gain: Unexplained weight loss or gain can be indicative of underlying issues like cancer. Monitor your dog's weight and consult your vet if you notice any significant changes.
  • Loss of Appetite: A sudden decrease in interest in food, especially their favorite treats, can be concerning.
  • Lethargy and Fatigue: Unusual tiredness or lack of energy could signal a problem. Pay attention to your dog's activity level and sleeping patterns.
  • Difficulty Eating or Swallowing: This could indicate oral tumors or throat issues. Watch for any signs of discomfort while eating or drinking.
  • Bleeding or Discharge: Unusual discharge from the eyes, ears, nose, or genitals warrants a vet visit.
  • Abdominal Distension: Swelling in the abdomen can be a sign of internal tumors. Regularly feel your dog's abdomen for any abnormalities.
  • Changes in Breathing: Difficulty breathing, coughing, or wheezing can be symptoms of cancer affecting the lungs or chest cavity.
  • Bowel or Urinary Issues: Diarrhea, constipation, or difficulty urinating require attention from your veterinarian.
  • Lameness or Pain: Lameness, limping, or signs of discomfort can indicate bone cancer or other issues. Observe your dog's gait and watch for any signs of pain.
  • Open Sores or Wounds: Non-healing wounds or sores should be checked by a veterinarian to rule out cancer.

You know your pup better than anyone. Just because they are young, active, playful, or without previous illness doesn’t mean that they are immune to unfortunate diseases. As always, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Download the free app from American Red Cross for a library of life-saving information at your fingertips.

Common Types of Cancer in Dogs

There are numerous types of cancer affecting dogs. Here's a look at some of the most common ones:

Lymphoma: This cancer affects the lymphatic system, causing enlarged lymph nodes which can be found all throughout the body. Diagnosis includes taking a sample from the lymph node in question and following through with testing. Although there is no cure, lymphoma in dogs can be managed with medications, radiation, and surgery.

Mast Cell Tumors: Mast Cell Tumors are perhaps the most common tumor in dogs. They are skin tumors that can be benign or malignant, an answer found with a simple test. They may appear as red, raised lumps on or just underneath the skin. Mast cell tumors are initially treated with surgery but other options are available.

Melanoma: Melanoma is a skin cancer that affects pigmented areas like the mouth or gums. Early detection is crucial for successful treatment.

Bone Cancer: This aggressive cancer affects the bones and causes pain and lameness. Certain breeds are more prone to this type of cancer.

Hemangiosarcoma: This cancer affects blood vessel cells and can occur anywhere in the body, including the spleen, liver, or heart.

Anal Gland Tumors: These tumors can be benign or malignant and affect the anal glands. Early detection and treatment are essential.

Oral Cavity Tumors: Cancerous tumors in the mouth can cause difficulty eating, bad breath, and bleeding. Regular dental checkups are important for early detection.

Preventative Measures to Avoid Cancer

While there's no guaranteed way to prevent cancer, there are steps to reduce your dog’s risk. Just like humans, proper care of your mental and physical health is crucial to avoiding unfortunate diseases and illnesses. Adopting a pup is a commitment to be their caring guardian. Commit to a life of fun, health, and love with your dog and follow the recommendations below!

Help your pup maintain a healthy weight.

A balanced diet and regular exercise are crucial for weight management. Obesity is a risk factor for various health problems, including cancer. Here at Bully Sticks Direct, we offer a variety of all-natural bully sticks that are a great low-calorie, high-protein treat option to help keep your dog active and engaged.Unlike the other guys, our bully sticks are free of toxic preservatives, colors, and hormones.

Provide your dog with a nutritious diet.

Feed your dog high-quality food rich in antioxidants and essential nutrients. Look for food that includes fruits, vegetables, and whole grains alongside a lean protein source. Even dog treats can be nutritious! Check out Bully Sticks Direct large catalog of all-natural treats that keep your pup satisfied for hours.

Schedule regular vet checkups.

Schedule regular checkups with your veterinarian for early detection. These checkups can include physical examinations, blood tests, and other diagnostics that might reveal signs of cancer in its early stages.

Try limiting exposure to toxins.

Avoid herbicides, pesticides, and secondhand smoke around your dog. Be mindful of your surroundings during walks and avoid areas where these chemicals might be present.

Get your pup spayed or neutered.

Spaying or neutering your dog at the recommended age might lower cancer risks for certain types of reproductive cancers. Consult your veterinarian to discuss the best course of action for your individual dog.

Working Together for Your Dog's Health

Cancer in dogs can be a frightening prospect, but with knowledge and early detection, you can significantly improve your dog's chances of a successful outcome. By understanding the risk factors, signs, and types of cancer, you can be more vigilant about your dog's health. Implementing preventative measures like a healthy diet, regular vet checkups, and weight management can further reduce the risk.

If your dog receives a cancer diagnosis, remember you're not alone. There are numerous treatment options available, and veterinary professionals are dedicated to helping your canine companion through this challenging time. At Bully Sticks Direct, we understand the deep bond between humans and their dogs. We are committed to providing information and resources to help you keep your furry friend healthy and happy throughout their life. Check out our blog page for monthly articles and follow along with us on social media!

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