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Common Dog Cancer

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Whitney has over 10 years of experience in dog training, rescuing, and healthcare.

Dog Cancer

Because our dogs are pretty important in our lives for one reason or another, it can be scary to find out that our pet may have cancer. I'm in that boat as we speak, with possible bone cysts or possible cancer. This has prompted me to do a little research as to common dog cancer, and surprisingly there are more than I expected to find.

Below you will find the more common types of cancer that you will find in dogs. Some of which are still more commonly diagnosed than others, but overall the more common cancer in dogs do include the following.

Some of the cancer types below are preventable, but at the same time many dogs are just plain prone to the particular type of cancer. Just remember the sooner that you notice the signs and symptoms, the better the odds of your dog's cancer treatment.


Abdominal Cancer

Typically abdominal cancer involves the spleen, liver, kidneys, and the intestines. It is usually pretty hard to recognize any form of abdominal cancer early on because the abdomen pretty much hides the swollen organs for a while. The best way to catch abdominal cancer early is to make sure that you attend regular vet visits because during the typical physical, you vet will be able to notice any swollen organs.

Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer is common in dogs that live with people who smoke. Dogs who are exposed to flea and tick tips or shampoos, can also develop bladder cancer more often than a dog who has never been exposed to these types of products, as the "inert" ingredients- benzene, toluene, and xylen- are typically made from petroleum, which can cause cancer. You'll find that Scottish Terriers are highly prone to bladder cancer.

Bone Cancer or Osteosarcoma

Bone cancer is common in larger dogs, typically in the dog's ribs or legs. You'll find that dogs that weigh over 80 pounds are prone to developing bone cancer in the foreleg next to the wrist joint and in the hind leg above the knee in the femur. Common signs of bone cancer is overall lameness; you may notice a swollen area on the bone. If the bone cancer is in a limb, you can have the limb amputated to relieve pain, but this will not cure the cancer. In many cases, it can spread to the lungs, which can cause coughing and difficulty breathing. Dogs who develop bone cancer typically survive up to one year.

Large breed males are less likely to develop bone cancer if they are not neutered, but there are still many pros to neutering. You will need to weigh your pros and cons.

Dog breeds that are prone to osteosarcoma include: Great Danes, Saint Bernards, Great Pyrenees, Newfoundlands, Bernese Mountain Dogs, and Irish Wolfhounds, as well as Rottweilers, Labradors, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, Dobermans, Weimaraners, and Boxers.


Dogs With Cancer

Breast or Mammary Cancer

Breast cancer is common in female dogs. You will find that the risk of mammary cancer is increased if you spay the female dog early. Generally, half of dogs with breast cancer will only have a small area infected, so to speak, and half will have malignant breast cancer that can spread throughout the body. The breast tumors can be removed, and if you opt for the surgical procedure, you want to make sure that the entire lining of the mammary tissue is removed.

Canine Lymphoma

Canine Lymphoma, also known as lymphosarcoma, is probably the third most common type of cancer in dogs. Lymphoma involves the white blood cells, lymph nodes, spleen, liver, intestines, and the bone marrow. Treatment for Canine lymphoma typically will include the entire body since lymph nodes are throughout the body. Common signs of canine lymphoma include vomiting, weight loss and lack of appetite, shortness of breath, and single or multiple lumps in the skin or mouth.

Mouth Cancer

Mouth cancer is often malignant. You want to watch out for bleeding in the nose, difficulty eating, or massed in the jaw and cheek area.

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Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is a fast growing cancer that is very aggressive and can spread to the lymph nodes, lungs, and the bones. The most common sign of protaste cancer is difficulty defecating because the prostate presses against the lower portion of the colon which makes it so that stool cannot pass. Dogs with prostate cancer may also walk stiffly and/or have blood in the urine.

Skin Cancer

Skin tumors are the easiest to spot, which means that skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer. Dogs that have white fur and pink skin are prone to skin cancer. If you have a dog with thin white fur, you want to apply sunscreen on the dog when he's outside.

Testicular Cancer

Dogs that are exposed to environmental toxins, herbicides, parasites, and various medications that are used to kill pests, are at higher risk to developing testicular cancer. Dogs that have a testicle retained within the abdomen are also prone to testicular cancer. Typically, when the testicles are removed, most dogs recover smoothly.

Canine Cancer


Disclaimer: Please be aware that the advice in this article should in no way replace that of a licensed veterinarian. The methods outlined above may or may not work for your pet. If you have any concerns, you should consult a veterinarian.


CaroleS on October 12, 2010:

Having lost two mini-schnautzers within 10 days in April to cancer one intestinal and the other stomach and then having my third dog diagnosed today with skin cancer, I found your information a comfort and a help. Let's just hope that it hasn't spread !!

cregan from Chicago, IL on November 16, 2008:

Best wishes for you and your dog. This is great information and I can see it took a lot of research. Thank you!

Whitney (author) from Georgia on November 16, 2008:

Good luck. Thank you. Please let me know how the introduction goes.

Barbara from Stepping past clutter on November 15, 2008:

Thanks, Whitney, for your good wishes. We have a puppy coming to meet the family tomorrow, including our sad doggie and two cats. Wish us luck! Your other two hubs are great. Keep up the good writing.

betherickson from Minnesota on November 14, 2008:

I'm really conscious of my dog's health. Thanks for this great hub! Very Informative. At least I'm a little aware now of my pet's condition.

Whitney (author) from Georgia on November 14, 2008:

Em, it is scary. Thank you for your wishes.

Storytellerrus, I'm sorry to hear about your pup. I wish you a well in your recoup over the loss. I think that another dog will benefit the grieving process a great deal. MIA is my grief dog after the loss of my other APBT. Without her, I'll be lost, but I know that there will be a grief dog after her definitely. It really will help your process. Good luck finding another puppy, and thank you for your wishes.

Barbara from Stepping past clutter on November 13, 2008:

I am sorry that you are experiencing this, Whitney.  We lost our ten year old schnauzer to canine lymphoma on Election Day.  I had scheduled a Wednesday appointment with the vet and his needle, but Herschel generously took his last breath on Tuesday which made it easier for us all.

He was diagnosed on October 2 and by then the cancer was in all his lymph nodes.  The vet had checked out his throat months before, but we thought his breathing problems had to do with illegal deer bones he'd discovered in the woods- I didn't give him bones, rawhide or other.  The day before I called the vet, I was scratching his neck and his lymph nodes were hard as a rock. 

He went so fast.  We tried steroids, but they only seemed to make him weak and didn't help as far as I could tell.  He was such a tough little guy that I guess he didn't reveal his weakness until the end.  He continued to go on long walks and chase squirrels until the last weekend.

I've been told that schnauzers are prone to canine lymphoma but this is our third and it was never an issue with the other two, so I'm not convinced.

We buried Herschel deep in a hole by our rose garden and placed a large boulder over his grave, as well as all the heart rocks I'd collected on my walks with him.  I miss him, but we did a couple ceremonies to release him.  The first litter of schnauzer puppies I visited last week nearly made me sick to my stomach.  But I am going to visit a couple more this weekend. I need another dog around the house. 

Thanks for listening and for alerting others to this quick acting disease.  You are very generous of spirit. My prayers are with you as you do the best you can for your pup. 

Em Writes from Upstate NY on November 13, 2008:

Great hub, Whitney! Very informative... and a little scary. Best of luck with your pooch.

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