Identifying Different Types of Dog Cancers
We're all concerned about the possibility of our dog developing cancer, but understanding the different types of dog cancer can help us better protect our pet. You see, there are so many different kinds of cancer that looking for the most common symptoms and thinking of certain preventative measures may not be enough. Certain dog breeds are particularly prone to individual cancers too, so you need to be aware of the risks associated with those cancers.
Different Types of Dog Cancer
Dog cancer is more than a lump. Cancer can be in an internal organ, on the skin, traveling through their lymphatic system, in their blood vessels, in their mouth, or in the bone. It can cause a lump, swelling, sores, rashes, odors, discharge, bleeding, and changes in behavior.
Without understanding different types of dog cancer, you may not realize there is something serious wrong with your dog or you may assume their symptoms are a sign of something else you are more familiar with.
We'll go over many dog cancer types you need to know about so you can more readily know how to identify dog cancer.
In dogs, melanoma is found more often in places we wouldn't think to look for it than not. We're used to thinking of the skin on the face and body, but dog melanoma occurs frequently on nail beds, pads of the feet, eyes, and mouth. Symptoms may include a lump, swelling, drainage, and sores.
Melanomas that drain on the feet can easily be confused with a benign, infected sore. Be careful not to assume this yourself or to let the vet jump to that conclusion too readily either. Should they seem to be doing the latter, ask more questions and consider a second opinion.
There are many lymphomas, and they can cause a wide range of symptoms. The most common symptom of the most common lymphoma is a swollen lymph node in the neck or leg, but these nodes can also be swollen in the chest or other areas.
You can familiarize yourself with the location of a dog's lymph nodes so you can recognize if any of them are swollen.
Lymphoma in the intestines causes digestive symptoms, and lymphoma in the lungs causes breathing problems. There are also lymphoma in dogs that cause lesions, ulcers, or nodules on the skin.
Hemangiosarcoma attacks the blood vessels, and it has no discernible early symptoms. This makes it very dangerous as dogs are usually not diagnosed with it until it is quite advanced and very hard or impossible to treat. With cancers like this, you can't wait for any symptoms to appear, you have to be proactive about routine checkups and know if your dog breed has a tendency to develop it. German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Labradors, and other large dogs are most prone. The risk increases with age. There is no known cause except for genetics.
When a dog does develop symptoms from advancing Hemangiosarcoma, these symptoms can be (depending on the location of the cancer):
- red or black growths in hairless or less hairy portions of the body
- the mucosal areas of the dog becoming pale
- abdominal swelling
- loss of appetite
- weight loss
- nose bleeds
- faster breathing
- shortness of breath
Mast Cell Tumors
Mast Cell Tumors are usually skin cancers, though they can appear in other places inside the dog. They are nodular and may be red, or not red, irritated, ulcerated, or smooth. The rate of growth can vary a great deal, and they may even sometimes appear to have become smaller for a brief time. People often confuse them with other benign bumps like insect bites or warts. Most dogs will only get one mast cell tumor. The causes are unclear, though genetics and breed are factors. Boston Terriers, Boxers, Bull Terriers, and Labrador Retrievers are most likely to be affected.
If the mast cell tumor forms internally, it can cause:
- loss of appetite
- black and tarry stools
- swollen abdomen
Osteosarcoma grows in the bones and impacts larger dogs more frequently than smaller ones. The most common symptoms will be swelling, lameness, and pain.
Female and male dogs can get mammary cancer. It is often overlooked because it looks like an insignificant bump around their nipples. It is more likely to develop in unspayed females, but any dog can get it and it is particularly dangerous in male dogs.
Testicular cancer in dogs can present some very unexpected symptoms, including swelling or a mass in the abdomen, symmetrical hair loss, enlarged mammary glands, and attracting male dogs. It is nearly impossible for neutered dogs to get it. A cryptocid dog (one with only one or no testicles descended) are very likely to get testicular cancer especially on the testicles left inside.
This is brain cancer and, as you might imagine, its symptoms involve the brain. The dog may have seizures, strokes, behavioral symptoms, depression, stress, and nosebleeds, as well as encephalitis that can cause walking in circles, balance issues, stumbling, and more.
Odd Symptoms of Cancer in Dogs
These symptoms may seem odd, but they are unfortunately pretty common.
Unusually bad breath
If your dog suddenly gets sudden bad dog breath or breath that has a different type of smell, this might be coming from an oral cancer.
Trouble Swallowing or Pain When Eating
Oral cancer can also make it difficult for your dog to eat and swallow. Any odd behavior while eating should be evaluated by a vet.
Trouble Peeing or Pooping
If your dog develops difficulty trying or a reluctance to pee or poop, this could be a sign of several kinds of cancers involving the obviously related parts of their anatomy. They may struggle to get in the right position, hesitate to go, act like it's uncomfortable, and more.
Increased Peeing or Drinking
Cancer of the hypothalamus or adrenal gland can cause the dog to drink more and pee more.
Weight Loss or Gain, Explained or Unexplained
Unexplained weight loss or weight gain is a well-known sign of cancers, but a noticeable increase or decrease in appetite that leads to weight loss or gain can also be a sign of cancer. If this condition persists, the cause should be ascertained.
CBD Oil can Help with the Many Types of Dog Cancers
This is a scientifically-backed claim. It has been discovered that both human and dog bodies have an endocannabinoid system, a group of receptors all over the body that produce and use cannabinoids. Yes, our bodies create their own cannabinoids. And they need them to function properly. Should the body not produce the right amount, or need a little more than they naturally produce, external cannabinoids like those found in hemp can help the body do what it is already supposed to do but more effectively.
CBD offers a staggering amount of health benefits that can help your dog should they be diagnosed with any of the many types of dog cancer.
Health benefits of CBD oil:
- decreases inflammation
- manages pain
- maintains a healthy appetite
- improves depression and stress
- fosters healthy energy levels
- improves nausea and vomiting
- reduces bacteria, viruses, and fungi
- reduces the number and severity of seizures
- potentially kills cancer cells
CBD is a natural substance with virtually no side effects or risks. For this reason, people are becoming more and more convinced to use it as a secondary or even primary treatment for many ailments. It can be a safe and natural replacement for a traditional medication your dog can't take or one you don't feel comfortable giving it. It can also relieve side effects of traditional medications so your dog can continue to take them if they are treating the cancer.
Using CBD Oil
There are many kinds of CBD oil products to choose from:
- oil tinctures
- extract concentrates
They all offer different benefits, perfect for meeting the needs of all dogs and all types of dog cancer.
Oil tinctures are CBD oil mixed with a carrier oil, and often flavors, so it can be given easily. Hemp has a distinctive taste that many dogs don't like, so the flavoring can make it much more enjoyable for them. Tinctures come with either a dropper or sprayer so they can be applied directly to the dog's mouth or their food, whichever works best for you both. It is easy to get very specific with dosing an oil tincture as you simply measure out how much you're giving them by the number of drops or sprays. Drops offer the most control.
Extract concentrates are similar in that you can control them a great deal. They are the purest form of CBD oil as there is nothing in the container but CBD oil. That also means there is nothing to mask the taste, so you may have to add it to something to get the dog to take it. You can also give this directly in their mouth or food, depending on their taste tolerance and preference.
Capsules contain nothing but CBD and the necessary ingredients to turn it into a capsule. These make taste no concern and are easy for dogs who are okay with taking the powder from the pills. It will seem like something they are already used to.
Treats come in crunchy and soft forms to suit the tastes of any dog. These are the easiest form of CBD oil to give your dog as they seem to enjoy it just like any other treat.
CBD Topicals are great for external or localized issues. For instance, topical CBD oil can heal or relieve pain and inflammation in a skin cancer or sore and it can bring localized relief to a limb.
Dosing CBD Oil
Dosing CBD oil is not an exact science, it's a bit of a trial and error thing. You start with the lowest possible dose for the ailment your dog has and work up to what works for them.
To get the best starting dose, talk to your licensed vet, checkout our comprehensive dosing guide, or research information online for the dog's cancer and troubling symptoms to see what people are saying works.
You'll want to give the dose a minimum of a couple of days to ideally four weeks before changing the dosage of CBD. This will allow plenty of time to ensure the current one isn't going to work. Some results should be nearly immediate, but the full effects of a correct dosage can take weeks to become apparent. If you change the dose too often, you may not be able to tell which one is helping your dog, and you'll both be needlessly confused and stressed out.
Also be aware that very young, very old, and very sick dogs need smaller doses than the average dog. Give them a smaller dose than normally recommended, and consider giving a very large dog a larger dose. You can also ask your vet for CBD dosing individual advice.
It is virtually impossible to overdose your dog on CBD oil. If they get too much of it, they can become sedated or have loss of appetite and diarrhea. Dose concern is more about not wasting it or causing one of those symptoms, than doing harm to the dog.
Some conditions actually respond better to smaller amounts of CBD oil. This is another important reason not to start with too high a dose.
Risks Associated with CBD Oil
There are only two risks.
The first is that CBD oil can have an impact on how the liver handles medications. This means dosages for traditional medications may not work as expected. You should tell the vet that you're giving your dog CBD oil so they can adjust dosages accordingly.
The second is that since CBD oil has not undergone the rigorous trials and experience that traditional medications have, few guarantees can be made. If it doesn't provide the results needed, be prepared to look for another more aggressive or guaranteed treatment.
CBD is best for dogs who have had traditional medications ruled out for them because they are either ineffective or unable to be taken because of side effects and risks or who need to use it as a way to ease side effects of a traditional medication. Consult the vet when using CBD oil as a primary medication to ensure it is producing the intended results and that another option doesn't need to be tried.
Science backs up claims that CBD oil helps with everything we listed, but that science is still new. Traditional medications can be legitimately scary and dangerous, but vets also have a much greater understanding of the benefits and risks of these treatments as they've been in such wide use for years. CBD is a natural and safer, but less well-known alternative. Choose for your dog based on those criteria. Many vets are familiar enough with CBD oil to be knowledgeable and accepting of CBD treatments, but if yours is not, you could try to find a holistic vet in your area.
Purchasing CBD Oil
There are some things to know before you buy CBD oil for dogs.
Full-spectrum vs. CBD isolate
CBD isolate is just cannabidiol as opposed to full-spectrum CBD oil which also contains other cannabinoids, terpenes, and nutrients found in the hemp plant. Most people prefer full-spectrum, but some say CBD isolate works best for them. For cancer, particularly cancer that is causing appetite or nutrient problems, full-spectrum is probably the best one to start with so the dog can get the added nutrition from the entourage effect.
Sadly, not all CBD oil manufacturers are honest. This means you have to check the website for a CBD oil product you want to buy to ensure the manufacturer provides third-party test results. An outside lab should always guarantee the presence and amount of cannabinoids, terpenes, and nutrients in your CBD oil product. They should also be making sure there aren't other things in there you don't want. Always check the lab results to make sure what's in the bottle is the same as what's advertised on the label.
CBD oil can be extracted in several different ways, but you want to select a product by a manufacturer who says they use the CO2 extraction method as it is the safest and purest.
A reputable CBD oil manufacturer should also tell you where they got their hemp or CBD oil. Some companies get CBD oil from someone else, and they should tell you where those people grew the hemp. Some companies grow the hemp themselves. Others use a combination of the two. Either way, it is important that the hemp was grown in a country with safe agricultural regulations.
Choose a CBD oil product with as few ingredients as possible and only ingredients that are necessary and safe. Most will say they are natural, because the target market likes natural products. Some will even say they are organic.
Innovations from Innovet
Innovet creates scientifically-backed natural and eco-friendly products to address dogs' hard-to-treat ailments and hard-to-address needs. If your dog has needs that aren't solved by current CBD oil products on the market, contact us to see if we can't create a product for your dog, no matter which of the many types of dog cancer they have.
Please do not ask for emergency or specific medical questions about your pets in the comments. Innovet Pet Products is unable to provide you with specific medical advice or counseling. A detailed physical exam, patient history, and an established veterinarian are required to provide specific medical advice. If you are worried that your pet requires emergency attention or if you have specific medical questions related to your pet’s current or chronic health conditions, please contact or visit your local/preferred veterinarian, an animal-specific poison control hotline, or your local emergency veterinary care center.
Please share your experiences and stories, your opinions and feedback about this blog, or what you've learned that you'd like to share with others.
Sara Redding Ochoa, DVM was raised in north Louisiana. She graduated from LA Tech in 2011 with a degree in animal science. She then moved to Grenada West Indies for veterinary school. She completed her clinical year at Louisiana State University and graduated in 2015 from St. George’s University. Since veterinary school she has been working at a small animal and exotic veterinary clinic in east Texas, where she has experience treating all species that walk in the hospital. In her free time, she likes to travel with her husband Greg, bake yummy desserts and spend time with her 4-legged fur kids, a dog Ruby, a cat Oliver James “OJ”, a rabbit BamBam and a tortoise MonkeyMan.
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The Innovet Team