It's Time We Talked About Dog Cancer

October 30, 2020

According to statistics from the Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI), the reported cases of dog cancer increased to 209 in the year 2016-17 from the 94 cases reported in 2006-07. Common types of cancers that have been noticed in dogs include Mast Cancers, Lipoma, Osteosarcoma in dogs, Oral melanoma, mammary gland carcinoma, Primary lung tumor and thyroid carcinoma. Also read:: 10 Most Common Types of Tumors and Cancers in Dogs.

Signs of Cancer

According to veterinary oncologist and former president of the Veterinary Cancer Society (US), Dave Ruslander, the signs of cancer in dogs are quite similar to those that show up for humans i.e. lumps, bumps, wounds that do not heal easily, unusual bleeding, any sort of lameness or swelling of the bones and enlarged lymph nodes. At times, your pet may not exhibit precisely these signs, so if you spot any indication that all is not well, including a sudden loss of weight, you should bring it to your vet’s notice.

Genetic Component

In his interview with Pet MD, Ruslander goes on to explain that the occurrence of some cancers could have a genetic component. For instance, Golden Retrievers, Boxers and Bernese Mountain Dogs show a strong incidence of cancer, indicating a genetic link. However, the extent of environmental factors vs. genetics has not been determined.

Prevention of Cancer

In order to give pet parents suitable steps to prevent cancer, veterinary professionals need to first be able to correctly identify the causes through accurately designed studies. This has proved to be difficult because it is hard to control the possible risk factors that a pet could be exposed to. A 2015 article by Dr. Joanne Intile puts forward pollution, pesticides and environmental tobacco smoke as three important environmental risk factors for cancer in pets. Other risk factors include your pet’s neuter status and your pet’s response to certain injections. Dr. Intile suggests that regular physical checks at the vet (every 6 -12 months) help early identification of any signs of cancer. Early detection and assessment of any lumps or bumps on your pet’s body contributes to a better prognosis. Also read: The Best Ways to Prevent Cancer in Pets


Cancer in dogs is commonly treated by chemotherapy, surgery or radiation – one or more of these could be recommended in combination or on their own. Treatment really depends on each individual case and a veterinary oncologist will outline the course of treatment. In India, the Advanced Centre in Treatment, Research, Education and Care of Cancer (ACTREC), located in Mumbai and affiliated to the Tata Memorial Hospital is dedicated to helping pets in need. This article is only a brief introduction to the growing issue of cancer in pets - we encourage you to refer to the articles listed below for further reading.

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