Series 1: Canine Cancer - A Silent Killer

Health, last updated 17th, Feb 2016, Neha Manchanda

Just like us humans, tumours and cancers are likely to develop in our pooches too. Cancerous tumours can be defined as a lump or a mass that forms in any part of the body or tissue due to the rapid division of the cells in the tissue. Under normal situations, cells are born and die when their life is over. However, if a cell is cancerous, instead of dying it will multiply and affect more cells around itself and gradually spread in the body through the bloodstream. 



For diagnosis of the cancer, early detection is the key. We, at DogSpot, bring to you the list that can be helpful to identify the different types of possible cancers. As a pet parent, you will have to be careful of any lump / bump /swelling that you might notice on your dog’s body. Many a times, a veterinarian will be able to give medication and be able to cure (if diagnosed at an early age) the cancer, however in case the cancer has spread, you may need to refer to a veterinary oncologist.


Types of Cancer


Type of Cancer Age About the Cancer
Lymphoma All age groups

Golden retrievers are more prone to this cancer

This is the most common form of cancer in dogs

The symptoms depend on the location of the cancer

Peripheral Lymphoma All age groups

There is enlargement of the peripheral lymph nodes in the body

The enlarged nodes may be in the jaw / front of the shoulders / behind the knees

The symptoms include decreased appetite / lethargy / enlarged glands  

Internal lymphoma All age groups

It affects the internal lymph nodes / tissues / organs such as liver or spleen

The symptoms include severe vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and even difficulty in breathing

If left untreated, this cancer can prove fatal for the dog

The treatment options include single drug or multiple drug chemotherapy

Hemangiosarcoma Middle Age / Older dogs

It develops from cells that line the blood vessels

Golden retrievers and german shepherds are more prone to developing this cancer

This cancer develops slowly and is not painful

The symptoms include internal bleeding, onset of sudden weakness, pale gums and even laboured breathing

The organs that are most affected are spleen, heart, liver and skin

Complete cure to the cancer is unlikely in case of late detection

The treatment may include surgery / chemotherapy

Osteosarcoma 7 - 10 years

It is the most common type of bone tumour in dogs

It frequently affects long bones but can be found in the skull or ribs

Giant dog breeds such as Great Danes are more prone to developing this cancer

It is an aggressive and rapidly spreading tumour

The recommended treatment is amputation followed by chemotherapy

Mast Cell Tumour All age groups

Most mast cell cancers are found in the skin and may be detected by the onset of swelling or growth on the skin

Boxers and Bulldogs are more prone to this cancer

The treatment depends on the location of the tumour. Many times surgery / chemotherapy may be recommended

The symptoms will include irritated bowel movements

Melanoma All age groups

It consists of pigmented or dark skin cells and can be found in any part of the dogs’ body

Scottish terrier or Doberman Pinschers are more prone to developing this cancer

The diagnosis includes histopathology of the tumour 

The treatment includes surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy

A vaccine has been developed that offers a control strategy

Squamous Cell Carcinoma All age groups

It develops on the skin and inside the mouth of the dogs

Survival is associated with location of the cancer - the skin is easy to cure but cancer inside the mouth is little difficult to cure

Oral squamous cell carcinomas are extremely aggressive in nature

Mammary carcinoma Females above five years of age

It is commonly seen in unspayed female dogs

This cancer is aggressive in nature and tends to spread rapidly

40% of these tumors are malignant in nature

The treatment includes surgery / removal of entire chain of mammary glands on the affected side of lymph nodes. In case the tumor is spread, chemotherapy is advised

Anal sac Carcinoma All age groups

It can be diagnosed during a routine rectal examination

The symptoms include high levels of calcium in the blood 

It is locally invasive in nature and complete removal is difficult

The treatment may include radiation therapy or chemotherapy

Transitional cell carcinoma

All age groups

It is the most common type of lower urinary system tumour in dogs

It is locally invasive but highly likely to metastasize to other organs

The treatment may include chemotherapy or anti inflammatory drugs 

The symptoms include blood in the urine / problems in passing urine

Soft tissue carcinoma All age groups

It is a group of several different types of tumours that share similar characteristics

The tumour is made of connective tissues that are located within the skin or in the tissues below the skin

It includes fibrosarcomas / hemangiopericytomas / liposarcomas / lieomyosarcomas / nerve sheath tumours

It is locally invasive in nature and can spread to adjacent normal tissues

The diagnosis includes histopathology of the blood and tissue sample

This cancer has 10% - 40% chances of spreading to other areas of the body

The treatment includes surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy

In our next series, we will discuss more about the symptoms, treatment and living management of canine cancer. 

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