Cancer is a tragedy for both pet and owner. Unfortunately, it has become the leading cause of death in dogs over the age of 10. Like humans, dogs are living longer due to advanced medical procedures and our knowledge of medicine. In fact, fifty percent of dogs will develop cancer at some point in their lives. But if you know the warning signs then it can be curable if caught early and lead to your pet living a longer, healthier life.
What is Cancer?
First off, cancer is a disease when cells start to grow uncontrollably and start invading the surrounding area. The cells can grow so rapidly that they take over entire organs or bones.
Cancer can take many forms in dogs and it can be localized or spread throughout the body. If it’s localized, it is found in only one area. However, if it spreads, then the disease is in several places and is much harder to treat.
The most common types of cancer are malignant lymphoma, which is a tumour in the lymph nodes. Another common one is skin cancer and bone cancer.
The warning signs of cancer are very similar to humans. A lump, any kind of swelling, or enlarged lymph nodes are typical signs of cancer.
If your dog is reaching that 10-year mark, you should do regular examinations to feel for any abnormality. Feel around your pets’ limbs, belly, neck, and throat. Monitor their activity, their food intake and any warning signs that they may not be feeling well.
You should also do some research on your pet’s breed because some types of dogs seem more prone to cancer than others.
Not all cancers can be prevented, but you can certainly do a few things that can lower the risk of your dog developing the disease. It’s essential that a dog eats healthy and nutritious food, and is fed regularly. Give your dog enough beta carotene, lycopene, and mineral selenium, as well as vitamins A, C, and E. With plenty of exercise and healthy nutrition, the risk of cancer will be significantly reduced.
If you’ve discovered a lump on your dog, it can be treated with a surgery, as long as it hasn’t spread to other parts of the body. However, the place of the cancer determines whether a surgery will be the best cure or not. Aside from surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy may also be effective in curing canine cancer, just like in humans. Chemotherapy has side effects such as diarrhea, vomiting and a period of reduced appetite. Talk to your veterinarian to see what the best treatment is for your pet.
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