Cancer In Dogs: A Primer

Cancer is a disease that can affect any living being. Unfortunately, dogs are no exception to this rule. Cancer in dogs is not the same as cancer in humans, but it still has many of the same effects on your dog’s health and quality of life. When caring for your dog, it is essential to know that you should watch out for any unusual lumps or bumps on their skin because these could be signs of cancerous growths that need professional medical attention right away.

This could be a somber article but our aim is to give you information about types of cancers that are common in dogs, how they are diagnosed, what causes them and treatments for them so that you can be informed and take proactive measures to keep your dog healthy.

What Is Cancer in dogs?

Cancer is a type of disease in which cells undergo abnormal growth and reproduction. Several types of canine neoplasia can all arise from different body parts, but they share many similar characteristics, such as developing abnormal growths or masses.

Different Type Of Cancer In Dogs

Several types of cancer can affect dogs, but the main types are:

Mast Cell Tumor

Cancer is a type of disease in which cells undergo abnormal growth and reproduction. Several types of canine neoplasia can all arise from different body parts, but they share many similar characteristics, such as developing abnormal growths or masses.


Despite their breed and age, all dogs are susceptible to hemangiosarcoma, an incurable tumor of cells that line blood vessels. It occurs more commonly in elderly or middle-aged dogs than others because they have a greater chance of developing cancerous growths in some regions of their body with high demand for cells. This type of dog cancer progresses slowly and can often be diagnosed at the last stage when tumors become resistant to treatments. Less than 50% survive more than six months, with many dying from internal bleeding caused by the condition before suitable treatment becomes available.


Lymphoma is the most common type of canine cancer, affecting dogs from all walks of life. The disease can take many forms and appear in various places on a dog’s body, including their neck bones (lymph nodes), chest area, or abdomen. However, it may also show as swollen glands near these same areas, which we call lymphadenopathy. If you notice any unusual changes with your pet, such as not eating for long periods without explanation, don’t brush off those signs. You should consult an experienced vet immediately because this cancer can be treated if diagnosed at an early stage.


Dogs are more prone to developing osteosarcoma than humans; it constitutes up to 85% of primary bone cancers in dogs. It commonly occurs at sites on or near major joints like the shoulder blade (scapula), knee, and wrist due to their proximity and rich blood supply, making them particularly susceptible. Lameness is the primary symptom when walking around uneven terrain or even just after getting up off your couch.

Mammary Carcinoma

If we look at the facts, non-spayed female dogs get more affected by mammary tumors; however, all females remain vulnerable regardless of their reproductive state. Approximately 50% will develop these cancers, and they need surgical removal if they haven’t spread by then.

Testicular Cancer

It’s a good idea to neuter your dog if you want them to live long, happy lives. This is because cancerous tumors can form in un-neutered males, and this type of dog cancer isn’t preventable other than by getting each one castrated at an early enough age. This cancer is difficult to treat; however, surgery will usually eliminate this cancerous growth if caught early on before too many cells have grown.

What Are The Sign And Symptoms Of Cancer In Dogs?

It is difficult to find the sign of cancer at an early stage. Several factors can affect whether or not your pup has any symptoms, including their age and general health status. However, the most common signs that appear in dogs are

  • Non-healing wounds
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Lump and bumps under your dog’s skin
  • Excessive discharge from nose, mouth, eye, and ear
  • Abnormal odor from the mouth, ears, or rectum
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Coughing

How To Diagnose Cancer In Dogs?

The best way to detect and treat cancer in dogs is through regular exams. This includes annual wellness visits with your veterinarian. They can check for signs indicative of canine disease like an abnormal mammogram or blood test results indicating Leukemia. Having these preventative examinations on hand could save lives because early detection means fewer treatments are needed.

You can do one thing on your end that could be helpful. When petting or grooming your dog, if you feel a lump or overgrowth on the dog’s body, immediately consult your vet. Most likely, your vet will aspirate the tumor cells and send them to the lab to diagnose tumors.

How To Treat Cancer In Dogs?

Treatment of cancer in dogs is similar to that of humans:

  • Surgery
  • hemotherapy
  • Radiotherapy
  • Herbal therapy

There are many factors to consider when selecting a therapy for your dog with cancer, like the patient’s overall health status should be one of them. Life expectancy can impact treatment decisions; older dogs who have slow-growing tumors may not tolerate some treatments that would benefit younger animals in better condition than them.

The risk of cancer in dogs is serious, and pet parents need to know what to look out for. This article has discussed some common cancers that affect dogs, along with the symptoms they may show. Now you can be proactive about your dog’s health by keeping an eye out for these signs. If you diagnose cancer early, it will help in treating it quickly.


The purpose behind this blog is to educate you on your pet’s health and is not intended to help you treat the pet on your own. As the causes of what is ailing your pet could vary and your pet could be experiencing severe distress, we strongly recommend you reach out to a vet either through telehealth or by going to a vet clinic to help your pet get back to good health.

Reach out and chat with one of our licensed Vets on PetMyPal’s Vet Chat. It is affordable, easy to use and above all you will have peace of mind that your pet will be taken care of.  Happy pet parenting!

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