Curbing cancer with awareness

Not all growths are cancer, but as responsible pet parents you need to be extra cautious to ensure your pet is healthy, happy, and safe.

–by Dr Arkaprabha Gupta & Dr Debotri Mondal


Tumor or neoplasia can be described as an uncontrolled growth of cells in the body under some influences that can be natural, artificial or both. It can be life threatening condition if not diagnosed at an early stage. Several factors like breeds and genetic factors are responsible for development of neoplasia. As per American Veterinary Medical Association research approximately 1 in 4 dogs will develop neoplasia at some stages of their life and almost half of the dogs over the age of 10 will develop cancer.

Vouching for vigilance

Generally it develops as a small growth in any part of the body but majority of the tumors are observed on the skin, gums, nose, head, base of the tail, and in the lymph nodes. Swelling can be single or multiple. Some tumors develop as a hairless round, red raised area whereas some becomes ulcerated containing blood and pus oozing out. The swelling are at first very soft in nature but with time it becomes hard.

There are two types of tumors – benign and malignant. Benign tumor remains locally but under some influence it can be converted to malignant one and spread distally.

Dangerous fate and basic science

As tumor development occurs through uncontrolled multiplication of cells by some mechanisms, so when pet parent first observe any nodular growth that means its brutality has already started some times before. Moreover the most dreadful thing about tumor cells is it can be very easily detached from its point of origin and can travel within the body through blood circulation and lymphatic system to other parts. If any negligence occurs in diagnosing or taking any necessary steps it might be possible by that time the tumors cells may have travelled in any body parts.

Early diagnosis is a savior

Even before formal diagnosis the pet parents should be aware. If they observe any swelling of recognizable size in any part they should consult with the vet. You can also consult a specialist veterinary pathologist as soon as possible. Fine needle aspiration cytology, impression smear cytology techniques are very rapid and almost confirmatory diagnosis for typing and characterizing of cancers. Atlast the biopsy of the tumor sample provides conclusive diagnosis.

All swellings are not cancer. Some cystic growth, herniation and abscess formation is also there where swelling occurs but they are not tumor. For this differential diagnosis vet consultation is necessary. In cases of blood cancer, it can only be diagnosed by complete blood count method and by microscopic observation of slides.

Most susceptible breeds

According to research some breeds are genetically predisposed to cancer. Rottweilers are predisposed to bone cancer whereas German Shepherds are susceptible to both bone and blood originated tumor. Labrador Retrievers are very much predisposed to lymph node tumors. Almost all female non neutered dogs are at a higher risk to mammary adenocarcinoma if mating is not performed properly. Transmissible venereal tumor is another problem that occurs in both male and females of sexually matured age.

Trust the treatment

After diagnosing the specific tumor types, anti-cancer drugs can be used accordingly. But it does not completely assure that the malignant tumors will not recur in his/her lifetime. Apart from this radiotherapy can also be used alone or with conjunction of chemotherapeutic drugs.

Management is the key

After diagnosing cancer a lot of clinical signs can be observed including severe immunosuppresion that leads to diminishing the quality of life of a pet. Along with medication, proper food and provision of nutritional support is of utmost importance. A nutritious diet with right balance of macros and essential nutrients including vitamins and minerals is important. You can also consult your vet to know the best supplements to maintain your pet’s health and wellness.

(Dr. Arkaprabha Gupta – B.V.Sc & A.H; M.V.Sc (Veterinary Pathology)Vetassure Pet Clinic, Dunlop, &Dr. Debotri Mondal B.V.Sc & A.H., M.V.Sc (Veterinary Pathology) Vetassure Pet Clinic, Sodepur-West Bengal).