There is no one specific method of prevention when it comes to cancer. A very healthy dog with the perfect diet, little stress, and regular exercise can suddenly develop a tumor or growth. Many veterinarians do know, however, that the instances in which a healthy dog is afflicted are much rarer than those in which an overweight, sedentary, or emotionally troubled dog develops cancer.
The best methods for prevention are those involved in a healthy lifestyle. Keep your pooch active, feed him appropriately, make sure he drinks enough water on a daily basis, and try to rid his environment of any unnecessary stressors. While it’s tempting to give your wallet a break by opting for clinic vaccinations, try to find and stick with a veterinarian who is compatible with both you and your dog, then have him examine your pup annually. This allows the vet to be familiar with your dog’s normal appearance and personality and can help him detect problematic growths before they get too out of control.
Just as in people, cancerous tumors and growths develop when something has happened to damage the genes in the body. This means that anything from heredity to genetic damage in areas that control viral processes; some breeds actually have cancer-producing genes built into their anatomy. Other contributors are age, sunlight, poor diet, lack of exercise, stress, and more. It’s difficult to pin down exactly what causes cancer in any given dog, but the true cause stems from the fact that cancer cells trick the immune system into believing that the cancer cells are its own normal cells.
The immune system doesn’t destroy them as it does other abnormal cells, which means they’re free to multiply and spread across the body. Benign tumors, those that are not cancerous, grow very slowly, don’t spread, and only cause damage if they begin to block necessary processes in the body. Malignant tumors, growths that are cancerous, can spread via blood or bodily fluid, grow very quickly, and often invade multiple areas of the body if not treated successfully. Can I tell if my dog has cancer?
You can definitely detect any growths or abnormalities from some strains of cancer, but a definite diagnosis should be made by your veterinarian. If you notice lumps, lesions, or unusual patches of skin, tell your vet immediately. He or she can use x-rays, ultrasounds, MRIs, biopsies, or even cell samples to determine the type and extent of the cancer. Also pay close attention to any changes in behavior.
Listed below are some of the most common indicators of cancer - while they may not seem as harmful individually, the presence of one or more should mean an immediate trip to the vet.
Possible Indicators of Cancer
Unusual swelling with no sign of reduction
That depends upon the type and extent of the cancer. Benign tumors usually don’t require any treatment, butyour vet may recommend surgical removal to prevent them from interfering with any bodily systems. Malignant tumors can be treated in a number of ways, many similar in method to the treatment of cancer in humans. Malignant tumors can sometimes be cured, but other times may, unfortunately, leave you and your vet with limited options for treatment. The main treatments for both curable and incurable tumors are surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy. A more detailed explanation of each is listed in the table below and your vet may recommend one or more of these options, but more advanced cases may require the use of either pain control or euthanasia. This is one of a pet owner’s most difficult moments, and while a vet can help your decision by making his or her recommendation, it is ultimately your responsibility to decide what is best for your friend.
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