Thursday, March 12, 2009

Cancer of Dogs

For any dog owner concerned with pet dog health cancer has to be at the top of the list of worries. In older dogs, cancer is a leading cause if not the leading cause of death. What's worse, is that cancer in dogs is as serious as cancer in people, often leading to expensive drawn out treatments that in the end buy a little time but don't stop the inevitable. 

Luckily, there is a silver lining in the clouds when it comes to cancer of dogs. First of all, you can greatly reduce the risk of your dog getting cancer by spaying or neutering your pet. So if you're not planning on breeding your dog, by having him or her "fixed" you are off to a great start. 

The first reason is that breast cancer is a major cause of cancer when it comes to female dogs, and the risk of contracting it is greatly reduced by having the dog "spayed". Breast cancer represents a very large proportion of all canine cancers, and according to some references it accounts for nearly 70% of all cancer among female dogs.

The earlier that the dog is spayed the better the protection. If the dog is spayed before her first heat, she gets a large reduction of risk. The more heats the dog goes through, the less the protective effect. However its  still there and any female dog can benefit from being spayed.

Among male dogs-you might have guessed it-testicular cancer and prostate cancer are two big killers. But get this: dogs are the only non-human species for which prostate cancer occurs in any large numbers. And while prostate cancer can be somewhat controlled in humans, its particularly aggressive in dogs.

Testicular cancer is also a problem, but obviously only in un-neutered pets. This is particularly so if the dog was born with undescended testicles. By neutering the dog, obviously the risk of testicular cancer is eliminated, and the risk of prostate cancer is reduced.

Dogs can get many other types of cancer. Lymphoma is fairly common, as are cancers of the nasal cavity. Dogs can even get lung cancer. The only way to deal with these is by having your dog checked up regularly at the vet.

One particular type of cancer to watch out for is skin cancer. This is something you can do yourself, by periodically checking over your dogs skin and taking her to the vet if you notice something unusual. Breeds like boxers are particularly susceptible to a type of skin cancer called mast cell tumors.

Cancer is scary, and if your favorite pet comes down with it that's going to be a stressful time. But before it happens, do some research and find out if there is anything you can do in order to reduce the risk. 

For more information on pet dog health: click here

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