Sadly, nowadays it’s not uncommon to hear about beloved pets that have been diagnosed with or died of cancer. The rate of cancer in dogs is actually similar to that in humans.
In fact, one in four dogs develop cancer, which acts as a timely reminder to check your furry friend for lumps, bumps and other signs.
According to the Vet Cancer Society, almost 50% of dogs over the age of 10 will develop cancer and approximately one in four dogs will, at some stage in their life, develop cancer. Knowing the most common type of cancer in dogs and recognising the signs can go some way towards a better, more positive diagnosis.
Top 5 Types of Cancer in Dogs
Certainly, there are hundreds of different types of cancer but cluing up on the most common can be useful.
Lymphoma is one of the most common cancers in dogs. It affects the white blood cells and is typically found in lymph nodes. There are many types of lymphoma that can be found in dogs. As such, symptoms may vary depending on the location of the cancer.
However, the most noted signs include enlarged (swollen) lymph nodes under the neck, behind knees, under the armpit and on the inner thighs. Other signs include lethargy, weight loss and loss of appetite.
“At the moment, there is no cure for B cell lymphoma. Studies show only 50% of dogs with B cell lymphoma will survive without treatment for around 30 days and the other half will mostly have severe progressive disease,” said veterinarian Dr Kim Agnew.
Currently, the best indicated treatment option for canine lymphoma is chemotherapy, which comes with its own set of logistical challenges regarding access to treatment and adverse events. However, 20% of dogs can be expected to live for 2 years, but unfortunately, relapse can occur within six to 12 months of treatment.”
**New Trial for Canine Lymphoma**
On a mission to find a treatment for canine lymphoma, biotech company PharmAust is recruiting pet dogs in Australia, New Zealand and United States with untreated B cell lymphoma to finalise evaluation of a promising, newly formulated anti-cancer drug, Monepantel (MPL).
“MPL is already approved for veterinary use for a different indication and species, and PharmAust is aiming to repurpose MPL as a safe and effective cancer treatment,” said Dr Agnew.
“We want to provide a canine lymphoma treatment option that can be administered daily by the owner and allow the dog to maintain an excellent quality of life during treatment. Survival expectations are anticipated to align to a range of single active chemotherapy programs in dogs,” he says.
In Australia, participating veterinary trial centres have been set up in New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia. For trial eligibility, participant case studies and veterinary trial centre locations, visit: www.pharmaust.com/petdogtrial
2. Mast cell tumours
The most widespread tumour found in dogs is mast cell tumours. Often presenting as inflamed areas, they are a type of skin cancer usually found on the dogs’ legs and trunk.
Breeds more likely to develop this type of cancer include Boston terriers, Boxers, pugs, golden retrievers and Labrador retrievers.
3. Malignant melanomas
Melanomas typically occur on the mouth. They grow rapidly and can quickly spread to other organs, such as the lungs and liver, which is why early detection is important. They tend to appear as brown or dark spots but can also be pink.
4. Osteosarcoma (bone cancer)
Osteosarcoma is a type of bone tumour, which can be very aggressive. Most commonly, it affects the limbs of large breed or giant dogs. It tends to affect the limbs but can also develop in the skull, ribs, spine and pelvis.
Common signs include swelling, lameness, a loss of appetite, and reduced levels of activity. Osteosarcomas can also cause pain, so watch for signs such as restlessness and behavioural changes.
Hemangiosarcoma is a cancer of the cells. It can appear anywhere, but most often affects the spleen, liver, heart and skin. These types of tumours inside the body tend to cause symptoms such as weakness, lethargy, or pale gums.
When outside the body, hemangiosarcoma may present as a mass in or under the dog’s skin. Light-skinned dogs can also develop this type of cancer through sun exposure.
How to check your dog safely for lumps and bumps
“I’m sorry, it’s cancer” are words no pet parents want to hear from their vet. Therefore, it’s important toc heck your pooch for unusual lumps and bumps on or under the skin.
Here are a few tips on how to check your dog for signs of cancer.
- Always praise your dog for being tolerant of being touched all over and offer rewards (food or praise) throughout the process. Your pooch will be happy to be petted on a regular basis and love the extra attention!
- Best way to check your dog’s body for lumps and bumps is to take a nose to tail approach.
- Using gentle pressure, start with feeling your dog’s head and run your hands around his face, paying particular attention to under the jaw and around the neck.
- Move your hands down the chest, over the arms and feel under the armpits. Then run your hands across the underside of the tummy paying particular attention to the mammary area in female dogs.
- When your dog stands up, look under the tail and check around the back passage, then run your hands down the legs.
If you do find any lumps or bumps on your dog, particularly if they look sore or ulcerated, visit your vet!