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4 Types Of Canine Cancer: Symptoms And Treatment 16 July, 2020   

Researchers have found that humans share more than just companionship and friendship with dogs. Unfortunately, they share the same genetic basis for certain kinds of cancer. According to a study, cancer is the leading cause of death in dogs with about 50% of older dogs developing the disease. It affects our furry friends in the same way it affects us, diminishing the quality of life and years. 

The word 'cancer' instills fear in every pet owner's mind. As a pet parent, you must possess the knowledge of common types of canine cancer and their treatment. 

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A healthy and nutritious diet is imperative for your dog's well being. Make sure to get your hands on the best dog food to lower any chances of canine cancer. Read on to this guide and find out more about the symptoms and treatment of four common types of canine cancer.

  1. Malignant Melanoma:

Are you worried about the grey or pink lumps on your dog's skin? Malignant melanoma, a type of skin cancer in dogs, affects the melanocytes, i.e., the pigmented cells. They are a serious concern because they multiply rapidly and have a high potential to metastasize, i.e. spread to other places in the body such as the lungs and the lymph nodes. 

They most commonly affect the buccal cavity, nail beds and other mucocutaneous junctions, i.e. the regions in the body that are conjunctions of haired and non-haired areas. This includes the areas around the lips, and genitals. Though this cancer can occur in any breed, the prevalence is higher in golden retrievers, cocker spaniels, and chow chows. 

Symptoms: These melanomas occur on the body as pigmented raised lumps. When these lumps grow in size, they often bleed and become ulcerous. In some cases, the tumour can also be amelanotic, and hence appear pinkish. Nail bed melanomas show up as toe swelling or even loss of the toenail itself at times. 

Treatment: The treatment for this cancer focuses on controlling the local tumour and addressing the issue of metastasis. Radiation therapy would be the best choice to treat this. In addition to that, the vet might suggest the canine melanoma vaccine. 

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  1. Malignant Lymphoma:

Its primary cause is the dangerous rapid growth of lymphocytes, the white blood cells that help the immune system fight off infection. While lymphoma can occur anywhere in the body, it usually arises from the lymphoid tissues in the thymus, bone marrow, spleen, or lymph nodes. 

Symptoms: The first sign of lymphoma is the swelling of lymph nodes located in the neck, armpits, chest, and behind the knees. It is easy to identify these lumps because they are evident. There are no other symptoms at first, but gradually, the dog may experience lethargy or weight loss. 

Treatment: The primary treatment for this cancer is chemotherapy. Fortunately, unlike humans, dogs tend to tolerate chemotherapy much better. They rarely even lose any hair. If you still do not want chemotherapy for your dog, Prednisone may be an option. However, it will only temporarily reduce the pain. Surgery and radiation may be suited only for low-grade lymphoma. 

  1. Mast cell tumours:

Mast cells or mastocytomas are mostly found in the connective tissues, especially the nerves and vessels that are close to the external surface of the dog. Hence, they develop mainly on the skin of dogs. Doctors grade these tumours by their location on the skin, and whether there is any inflammation. They can be very invasive and can even regrow after surgical removal.

Symptoms: The primary symptom is red, swollen lumps on the dog's body. The mast cells contain chemicals such as serotonin and histamine. These chemicals are present in abundance in the dog's bloodstream with the tumours. They cause a loss in appetite, diarrhoea, vomiting, etc. in dogs. 

Treatment: Surgery can work for low-grade tumours, but for more aggressive ones, you need to consider the other options. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy are two primary options for high-grade tumours.

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  1. Osteosarcoma:

Have you noticed a swelling in your dog's leg or his reluctance to play? Do not take it lightly and instantly visit your vet for a checkup. Osteosarcoma is one of the most common bone tumours found in dogs. It usually strikes the bones of the limbs in middle-aged or elderly dogs. However, it can then develop in the bone of the skull, spine, or even the ribcage. It develops within the bone and becomes progressively painful as it grows outward. It is more common in larger breeds. 

Symptoms: If your dog has osteosarcoma, a distinct swelling and lameness will be there, usually in the leg. Moreover, in the later stages, you might notice a loss of appetite and lethargy in your dog because of the pain. 

If you notice these symptoms quickly, you can help your dog while it's still possible to do so. The bone becomes weaker with each passing day and it may break with even a minor injury. 

Treatment: The most common treatment for canine osteosarcoma includes amputation of the affected limb. This might be very unsettling for a few dog owners, but it might be the best option. Radiation and chemotherapy are other options, and in some cases, doctors may use a combination of these. Adequate pain control after the treatment is crucial.

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Final thoughts:

Having a furry friend comes with its own set of responsibilities. Vets usually suggest twice-yearly checkups for dogs.More than half of the cancers in dogs are treatable if identified in the early stages. Hence, If you know the symptoms of such common diseases that occur in dogs, you might be able to identify cancer in its early stages. This might increase the chances of a full recovery for your dog. 

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