Cancer is one of the scariest words for a pet owner to hear from their veterinarian, which makes it all the more important that all vets and staff know exactly how to talk to their clients about any such diagnosis. It is true that cancer is the leading cause of death in animals over ten years old, so dog owners are right to be worried, but what should be immediately emphasized is the fact that most common types of cancer are treatable when detected early enough, and many are outright curable. Just being able to talk to a pet owner about the most common cancers found in dogs and their respective treatments can take some of the sting out of an undeniably difficult time.
Types of Cancer
Mammary cancer, mast cell tumors (usually in the skin), and lipomas are three of the most frequently diagnosed cancers, and all can be malignant. Lymphoma is a cancer of the blood cells known as lymphocytes, and can be found everywhere from organs like the spleen and liver to lymph nodes, the GI tract, or even bone marrow. Osteosarcoma, on the other hand, is restricted to the bones themselves, but its tumors can be aggressive. Older dogs also often develop melanoma, which presents in footpads, nail beds, mouth, and skin, as well as bladder or lung cancer, both of which can be malignant and quickly spread to other regions.
Just hearing descriptions of these illnesses is enough to make any dog owner feel faint, which is why it's so important to focus on the high success rate for the treatment of cancer in dogs. Those types of cancer that manifest as tumors can often be surgically removed before they turn malignant or spread. Other kinds of cancer may require chemotherapy or some other sort of radiation therapy, but even in these cases, most dogs tolerate the treatment well, and they will certainly improve and prolong the life of the animal. It's also worth talking to dog owners about what preventative measures they can take to reduce their pet's chances of developing cancer later in life—spaying dogs before they get too old, for example, makes them less likely to be diagnosed with mammary cancer.
Ultimately, every cancer is different, and so is every case of it, but what is universal is the love dog owners have for their pets. Receiving a cancer diagnosis can be devastating, but it should also be pointed out that the reason it has become so common in older dogs is that they are being taken better care of than ever before in history. Simply put, senior animals would rarely live so long, and now that we are expanding their life spans with healthier diets and quality health care, the emergence of certain diseases is actually as natural as it is inevitable.
Whatever the diagnosis, it greatly benefits both the family and the pet to turn to a veterinary cancer treatment center that specializes in the treatment of cancer in dogs. The Veterinary Cancer Center is an acclaimed veterinary referral pet cancer specialist in Connecticut and New York that can offer expertise and advice during a difficult time. Our specialized veterinary practice is dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of cancer in animals, and our staff includes nationally recognized oncologists. Phone (203) 838-6626 for compassionate care, expert advice, and superior medicine.