Many of us share an extremely intense love and bond with our pet dogs. For us, they are not “just dogs”, but a part of our family. They are our companions who bring fun and joy to our lives. This companionship sometimes lasts for more than a decade and turns into true love. However, they can get sick, and when they do, things get complicated. Whether you are deciding what diagnostic tests to run on your dog, what type of treatments to use or how to fit long term expenses in your budget, it’s extremely easy to become overwhelmed. And what if that disease is cancer?
Dogs and Cancer
Cancer is the leading cause of death in dogs, believe it or not. It is estimated that every third domestic dog develops some kind of cancer, which is the same incidence of cancer among humans.
Dogs can develop several different types of cancer and most are very similar to those we can find in humans. We also describe those canine cancers with the same terminology and use the same classification system as we do with human cancers.
- Brain cancer;
- Prostate cancer;
- Mast cell tumors (skin cancer);
In veterinary medicine, the goal of the treatment of cancer is entering remission. You can’t cure it. That being said, there are three common treatment options for animal cancers. Those are surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. The specific treatment will be recommended depending on your pet’s condition. The veterinarian will consider factors like the location of cancer, the type of cancer, and the speed it grows and spreads.
The Cost and the Heartbreak
When a dog is diagnosed with cancer, one of the biggest concerns is the cost. And it is hard to determine the real cost for treatment. There are all kinds of different options and dosages depending on cancer itself.
- Specialist visit to confirm cancer – $1,500;
- Chemotherapy – $200 – $5,000;
- Radiation therapy – $2,000 – $6,000;
Apart from this, you will also need to factor in additional medications like pain relievers or antibiotics. That could cost another $50 per month indefinitely.
The thing that could help you in this situation is insurance for dogs. Maybe you should start thinking about it. I mean, most insurance providers offer coverage for veterinary oncology care as well as other forms of cancer treatments such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy. If your dog is covered by dog insurance (or pet insurance) before a cancer diagnosis is made, you won’t have to pay a dime from your pocket. But, if your pet has already been diagnosed, the cancer is considered as a pre-existing condition and as such can’t be covered by any pet insurance.
Breeds of Dogs that are Most Prone to Cancer
The chances of developing some kind of cancer in dogs increase with age and certain breeds are more susceptible to specific kinds of cancers.
1. Golden Retrievers
The Golden Retriever has been used as the main representative for family pets. This kind of dog is extremely obedient, friendly, devoted, and very intelligent. They are good workers at hunting and fieldwork, as guides for the blind, in search-and-rescue missions, etc. This is why you don’t normally think of cancer when you see them. However, approximately 60% of all Golden Retrievers develop some kind of cancer.
Lymphoma or lymphosarcoma is a type of cancer that afflicts Golden Retrievers more than other breeds.
The Golden Retriever was first developed near Glen Affric in Scotland. The breed is thought to have originated from the now-extinct Russian tracker dog.
2. German Shepherd
We love this dog because of its character. They are loyal, courageous, confident, and willing to put their life on the line in defense of loved ones.
This breed of dogs is very popular, and despite that popularity, German Shepherds are second in line when it comes to high rates of cancer. The most prevalent type of cancer that usually hits this breed is hemangiosarcoma. This disease can often be fatal. It is a form of cancer that arises from the cells that line blood vessels of various tissues of the body.
This is a breed of small hound dogs was developed primarily for hunting hare. But not only they are good for hunting but as friends too – the best kind of friends. They are cheerful dogs that like affection. They hunt in packs so they like the company. This is why if you leave them alone you may find them howling and destroying random objects.
Beagles are especially prone to a certain kind of cancer called lymphoma.
This breed was bred for hunting. They’ve been used for everything from tunneling small animals to tailing wild boars. However, lately, people started looking at Dachshunds as excellent family companions (they are friendly to other dogs, people, kids, etc.), and show dogs. They are, unfortunately, particularly prone to contracting cancer or developing tumors. The most common types of cancer they are prone to are mast cell tumors or Squamous Cell Carcinoma.
5. Yorkshire Terriers
Yorkshire Terrier is a very small dog breed of terriers. It was developed in the 19th century in England (you might be able to guess where). This is a very popular breed which, beneath that glossy, floor-length coat hides the heart of a feisty, old-time terrier. You might see that now as a classic lapdog of Victorian ladies but that was not originally the case. This breed was created to work in mines and mills long before they became a part of “royalty”.
Sadly, around 11.2% of Yorkies succumb to cancer. The number one cause of death for adult Yorkshire Terriers is a respiratory disease. Apart from that, they are prone to arthritis, spinal cord injuries, heart disease, and several other problems.
If you spot any changes in behavior or on the skin of your dog, the best course of action would be to seek medical advice from a veterinarian sooner than later.