Preventing Cancer in Dogs

No dog owner ever wants to hear this, but cancer diagnoses in dogs do happen.

When it comes to diseases like this, prevention is always preferable to the cure. So to avoid a sad situation with your furry friends, and to keep them happy and healthy, here are a few considerations you should take into account:

1. Breed

Some breeds are more prone to cancers, such as Boxers, Cocker Spaniels, and Border Collies. Larger breeds of dogs are more prone to bone cancers, and lighter skinned dogs are more prone to skin cancers, as are many of the short-coated dog breeds.

2. Genetics

If you are buying a dog from a breeder, certain breeds are more prone to problems. You would have to do breed research on your own to determine this – A breeder and breed book could help.

Most reputable breeders would not breed dogs of lines where cancer has been a problem, but their are plenty of greedy and unethical breeders. To be safe, ask to see the health documentation done on the parent dogs. 

3. Spaying and Neutering

Either procedure, based on the gender of your dog, will eliminate several causes of cancer.  A neutered male dog has no testicles, therefore cannot get testicular cancer. There are in fact several cancer risks eliminated or lowered with these procedures.

4. Food

You probably didn’t realize this, but many ingredients in dog food have been linked or suspect to causing cancers in pets.

Two examples are the commonly used preservatives BHT and BHA. Higher quality dog foods do not use these.

The other huge contributor is “byproducts”, which generally consists of beaks, feet, feathers, and can even contain cancerous tumors from other animals. 

What makes byproducts so bad is they are preserved with a nasty chemical pesticide known as “ethoxyquin”. This pesticide has been banned from use in some counties, but is often still used in pet food. 

The worst part? It may not even appear on your ingredient list because it is considered part of the byproduct. There are several dog foods that explicitly avoid byproducts, but you may have to search them out at independent pet food supply stores, groomers, or livestock feedstores.

5. Household Chemicals

If you use chemicals on your lawn, or on floors, they may enter into your dog’s body. Dogs lick their paws throughout the day, and thus may ingest chemicals. Air freshening sprays may also coat a dog’s delicate lungs and can contribute to cancer by putting the lungs under stress. 

6. Age

This is a fact of life, and there is nothing you can do here. It is important to be aware that as dogs get older they are more prone to problems, so as dog owners, we need to stay on top of any changes.

The last thing you want to do is to allow a problem to get too bad before seeking veterinary help, at which point there might not be anything we can do for the dog.