Cancer in Dogs

These are among the words you least want to hear, and more than likely, you or a friend has heard this. One in four dogs gets cancer; half of the dogs over 10 years of age die from some form of cancer or complications of the disease.

This is a huge increase over the past 20 years.

Much of what is known about canine cancer parallels what is known about cancer in humans. Treating canine cancer depends on the variables found in human cancer treatment: the type of cancer and the wisdom of the attending doctor in choosing the most effective course. And the willingness of the patient and their caregiver to follow through.

Cancer is a disease of middle and old age. Certain cancers are preventable with prudent lifestyle choices. Early detection is almost always a critical factor.

Cancer is hereditary, sometimes running in canine families. Variables like nutrition and toxic exposure play a prominent role.

And always there is a highly individual response to disease. The immune system rallies for some dogs, and the treatments seem magically precise. For many, treatment becomes a holding pattern, an evolving equation of modulated therapy versus quality of life.

Our pets don’t know they have cancer. They still want to be loved and cared for. Sometimes, it’s a tough choice between aggressive therapies and letting your pet enjoy his time with you without the stress, fear, and pain of being handled, testing, diagnostics, surgery, etc.

Early Detection is Key

Early detection offers the most realistic hope for your dog’s survival, particularly for those cancers that aggressively metastasize.

Make it a regular practice to examine your dog’s body for unexplained swelling or lumps. Tumors developing in the upper layers of the skin are the most common types of cancer in dogs.

Many early warning signs of cancer, however, are more subtle. While many of these signs – behavioral changes, loss of appetite, increased water consumption, persistent wheezing or coughing – are universal and require only basic observational skills on the owner’s part, other signs require a more sophisticated knowledge of your pet.

Cancers are often traced to the site of earlier injuries, traumas, wounds, or fractures, so knowledge and examination of these injury sites can be helpful.

Dogs with long snouts and those who live on commercial farms are exposed to herbicides and pesticides and are more prone to nasal, kidney, and stomach cancers as they ingest the chemicals by licking their paws and sniffing around.

Also, if you live in gated areas or around golf courses, be wary of the pesticide load that goes into ground keeping. We also noticed dogs living in sprayed and gated areas are more prone to cancers because they walk, sniff, and hang out in the gardens, then lick their paws and coats, ingesting pesticides, herbicides, and whatever is put on the grounds.

The gated Four Seasons in Punta Mita is a totally toxic region for pets.

Clean your dog’s feet if you walk them there, or better still, avoid taking your fur baby into those places.

Oral melanoma, the fourth most common type of canine cancer, is much more common in dogs with dark pigmentation in their mouths. If you own such a dog, you must be especially alert to unexplained oral swellings, a bad odor, or signs of dental disease.

Mast cell tumors are common but far more common in short-nosed breeds like boxers and Boston Terriers. Large and giant breeds are at much higher risk of developing bone cancer, particularly in the long bones of the legs.

Cocker spaniels are prone to an otherwise rare type of ear cancer. Skin cancer is prevalent where ultraviolet light is strong, particularly for short-haired, fair-skinned breeds like Boxers.

As your dog ages, the likelihood increases that your dog will get cancer in any of one hundred different forms. Simple awareness, clearly, can go a long way toward providing a happy outcome.

Be a label reader when it comes to feeding your Friend. The least is best.

Having said that…

We suggest a holistic approach to prevention, such as offering your pet (from puppy stage) a raw, organ-based diet with some greens.

Dogs digestive and enzyme patterns are not able to handle grains of any kind, soy, corn, wheat, sugars, peanut butter, cheese, chocolate, bacon, and all those things dogs learn to love (our dog used to love pancakes with bacon and would shamefully beg for it. Then developed diabetes).

The residues of undigested grains are left in the bloodstream, accumulate in weakened (trauma) areas and form tumors. Sugars, fried foods, chocolate, and cheese are all unnatural foods for dogs or cats and will affect kidney functions, leading to diabetes and heart problems.

On the esoteric side.

Our pets protect us from many unseen energies. They will sicken as they absorb negative energy or illness. They will happily die for you.

Once, I lost all my pets in a month. We lived in a little house near the Marina when our dog died suddenly, our cat disappeared, our bird woke up dead, and even the fish floated belly up. Our little family was distraught because our pets usually stay healthy and close to home.

I mentioned this to one of my Mexican friends, who suggested I needed to go see the local witch doctor to clear the air around us and the house.

We did, and the cat showed back up. The little female cockatoo fell in love with another male, and we traded in the fish tank.

My point is that diet and environment have much to do with your pet’s health. Keep in mind our pets also choose us and act as our protectors.


  • Krystal Frost

    Krystal earned a degree in Asian Medicine from the University of Guadalajara, then Bastyr University for an acupuncture specialty, and has served our community since 2004. She has written a health column for the Mirror for over 20 years. Many thanks to my readers over two decades!

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