Authored by Douglas Mefford in Dogs
Published on 12-02-2009
Cancer is an insidious and deadly disease that causes the very cells of the body to mutate and grow deadly to the individual it grows within. This great blight is not just a human disease and can as easily develop in dogs as any other creature. While there is no cure, there are, just as with humans, several treatments for cancer in dogs.
The most conventional treatments of cancer in dogs include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. It is necessary for your veterinarian to identify the specific type of cancer that is affecting your dog and develop the best possible method of treatment. Quality of life is also a consideration in treatment and if the best cure still leaves your four legged friend in pain and misery then euthanasia should not be ruled out as the most humane solution.
Surgical procedures involve the cutting away of the cancerous cells or tumors. This may involve either removing part of an organ or even an entire limb if it is badly infected. This removal of the diseased tissue can be a cure in itself if all the damaged cells are removed. It does not, however, guarantee that new cancer cells will not return.
Radiation therapy is available from some of the larger veterinarian institutions. In radiology, beam of radioactive energy is used to target and either damage or destroy the malignant cells in a localized area. Radiation therapy is not a cure but does offer fairly good remission intervals even though dogs are surprisingly tolerant of this therapy.
Chemotherapy involves the use of drugs to attack and control the growth of cancer cells. The drugs used in veterinary work on dogs are the same ones used for humans. It is fortunate that many of the negative effects these drugs have on the human system do not affect the dogs they are given to. While chemotherapy can work alone, it is usually performed in tandem with surgical procedures. Some types of cancer can be controlled with just a few sessions, some of the more invasive types will require ongoing treatment to maintain a remission of the cancerous growth.
Only recently approved and begun to be used for recurrent cutaneous mast cell tumors is the prescription drug Palladia. This is an oral therapy developed by Pfizer Animal health and is available only through veterinarians. A study by the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine has shown that Palladia treatment decreased or entirely removed about 60% of all the skin tumors on the test animals. Being less invasive, the dogs all experienced a much greater quality of life than those who undergo more traditional treatments for cancer.
The best treatment against cancer in your dog is to maintain preventative methods to minimize the chance of the disease developing. One of the first, best ways to do this is through the food you give your dog. It has been demonstrated many times over that most commercial dog foods are less than nutritionally complete and often contain carcinogenic compounds in the preservatives. Preparing your dog’s food yourself is the most healthy option. Antioxidants, which are the best nutrients for preventing the formation of cancer cells, are readily found in fish and flaxseed oils. Low fat, highly digestible proteins such as are found in chicken will also help prevent the conditions most likely to induce cancer in your dog.