How to Prevent Cancer in Dogs

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Dogs can get both benign and malignant cancers, but it's important to have dogs thoroughly examined by veterinarians in order to keep the dog as healthy as possible. Find out how getting a dog spayed or neutered can help prevent cancer with help from a veterinarian in this free video on dog health and cancer prevention.

Part of the Video Series: Dog Health
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Dr. Greg McDonald. I'm a veterinarian in Southern California. My practice is in Santa Barbara. I wanted to talk a little bit about dog care today, and one of the things that people are always worried about is cancer. Cancer in the dog is not unlike cancer in humans. We can get all different types of cancer. We like to divide them into, basically, two types of cancer. One is benign. A benign cancer is a tumor that starts to grow in your dog that is not going to really harm him. It may look ugly. It may cause little problems in your dog, but it's not going to cause your animal’s demise. The other type of cancer is a true cancer that actually is growing very rapidly. It may be growing internally. It could get to be a large tumor. It could actually cause your dog to bleed. It could be in a bone of your dog and become painful and even cause a bone fracture. So, people are often worried about cancer in dogs, and the same is true with people and dogs. We get cancer, usually, as the animal ages. It doesn't mean that a young dog doesn't have cancer, but we have it more predominantly in the older animals. Dogs that are getting cancer; usually the owners are noticing something's going wrong. And once again, it's very important to call your veterinarian and have a thorough physical exam. Some cancers can be seen externally. Some, you need to do x-rays and ultrasound. Others may cause bleeding, and so your dog becomes anemic or some other mode of diagnosis might be necessary. In order to prevent cancer in the dog there's several things that the owner can do. First of all, if you have your dog or cat spayed or neutered early in their lifetime it will prevent them from getting cancer later on. Early neutering means between four and six months of age. Spaying is the same thing, between four and six months of age. Especially in the female dog, you know that if an animal has been spayed before or after their first heat cycle they don't get mammary gland cancer, literally ever. Male dogs don't get prostate cancer and other forms of cancer if they are, again, neutered early. Cancer seems to be hormonally related in some animals, so we can cut down the amount of cancer that your dog gets simply by early spays and neuters. The other thing that's incredibly important is to keep your animal out of the sun. You shouldn't let your dog just sunbathe all day long, especially if they're a white breed. And also, feeding them a really good quality dog food is very, very important. There are a lot of rumors on the Internet, and a lot of rumors that some of these in the dog food manufacturers are talking about. Natural this and natural that doesn't necessarily mean that it's good quality. I think you should check in with your veterinarian and get a recommendation for diet. Once again, some of the same things that are true for us, if you're not eating things that are overcooked. Too much fat in the diet is not good for dogs either. This is a dog that we took a tumor out of last week. The tumor actually weighed eight pounds. It was up in the abdomen, and we shaved the area here, and you can actually see the incision line down here. We also put an Elizabethan collar on this dog so that the dog will not chew on the sutures. Some dogs will chew on their sutures after they've had an operation, so that's why we have this on here. So once again, be aware of what's happening with your dog. If you actually see any signs of cancer contact your veterinarian. They may want to do blood work, x-rays, and other things to diagnose it, and they'll also give you some ideas on how to treat it.


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