Canine cancer: A leading cause of death for dogs and a message of hope

It is devastating when a beloved companion is injured or stricken with an illness, and this is certainly true for canine cancer. Photo: (AP Photo/Colorado State University, Josh Mesinger)

SAN DIEGO, July 23, 2013 — If you are a dog lover, you are almost certainly willing to provide love, protection, and care for your four-legged companion.

According to statistics provided by the American Humane Association in 2011, there are 46.3 million U.S. households which own a dog.

With 70 million pet dogs in the U.S. according to the 2012 U.S. Pet Ownership Demographics Sourcebook as published in AVMA, it is easy to understand that six out of ten pet owners in general consider their pets to be family members.

If you are fortunate enough to experience the true bond between a canine and a human being, it is easy to understand how a four-legged companion, and oftentimes best-friend, becomes a part of the fabric of daily life.

It is devastating when a beloved companion is either injured or stricken with an illness or disease, and this is certainly true for canine cancer.

Canine cancer can be a frightening experience for the caring dog owner, oftentimes leading to feelings of helplessness and fear. Unfortunately, dogs cannot speak, and so non-verbal displays of pain, discomfort, and other symptoms to convey any lack of well-being, must be relied on as the primary means of communication. Changes in a dog’s behavior can provide insight which enables dog owners to provide the best-possible solutions.

Photo courtesy of Laurie Edwards-Tate offers a list of Canine Cancer health risks and symptoms which are helpful to be aware of:

Risk Factors:

-Age. Longevity increases cancer risk.

-Breed. Certain breeds are at greater risk for cancer.

-Gender. Some cancers are sex-based.

-Environmental Exposures. Chemicals, pesticides, and herbicides may contribute to cancer.

Common Symptoms:

-Abnormal swelling.

-Rapid or extreme weight loss.

-Persistent, ongoing sores.

-Changes in appetite.

-Bleeding or discharges from majors openings.

-Offensive odor.

-Difficulty eating.

-Loss of interest in daily activities.

Consult your veterinarian immediately if you suspect any unusual symptoms or behavioral changes.

Your veterinarian can help you determine your dog’s health status. Testing, information, and recommendations for possible next steps may be offered, which could include an appointment with a neurologist, oncologist, surgeon, or a variety of other veterinary specialists. Special MRIs, CT scans, and other forms of investigative testing may be required to determine which treatment options could help provide a cure or slow down the disease process.

As with humans, there are a variety of cancer treatments available. Medication therapy, surgery, chemotherapy, irradiation, cyber knife, or a combination of more than one modality, may be possible. Your veterinary specialist will help provide you with the most comprehensive information and explanation to help you and your family establish the best possible outcomes.

”Fifty percent of dogs over the age of 10 develop cancer at some point,” says Dr. Dave Ruslander, a veterinary oncologist quoted in “Dogs and Cancer:  Get the Facts.” Therefore, if you have a dog age seven or older, it is recommended by many veterinarians to have regular physical exams, and comprehensive blood and other tests to detect any potential health risks.

The cost for cancer treatment is high, and prohibitive for some families. If you do not have pet insurance for your dog, there may be payment options available. Be certain to talk with your veterinarian about financing options.

The FACE Foundation, located in San Diego, Californian, helps local San Diegans with special circumstances assess their financial situation and the treatment needs of their dog. They also provide assistance for pet companions other than dogs. The mission of the FACE Foundation is to “provide ongoing education to pet owners and their community-at-large about proper preventive pet care, as well as advancements in veterinary medicine and research.” Tips on keeping your pet healthy, and informative articles provided by veterinarians, can be accessed by visiting their website at:

It may be beneficial to check for similar resources located close to where you live.

You may also benefit from the resources, education, support, and information offered by the National K9 Foundation. Visit them at:

In the poignant words of a true dog lover:

“The passion that moves us

  forward is from experiencing

  what Cancer really does to the

  one we love,


  We are driven because there

  is a hole in our soul  where

  once was the love of our dog.”

-Gary D. Nice


Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!

Laurie Edwards-Tate, MS, is a health care provider of over 30 years. As a featured “Communities” columnist since 2011, LifeCycles with Laurie Edwards-Tate emphasizes healthy aging and maintaining independence, while delighting and informing its readers. Laurie is a recognized expert in home and community-based, long-term care services, and is also an educator.

In addition to writing for “Communities,” Laurie is the President and CEO of her firm, At Your Home Familycare, which serves persons of all ages who are disabled and infirm with a variety of non-medical, in-home care and concierge services.

Copyright © 2013 by At Your Home Familycare

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Laurie Edwards-Tate

Laurie Edwards-Tate, MS, President and Founder of At Your Home Familycare in San Diego, California, was among the first to recognize the growing need for services allowing individuals to remain independent created by the aging of America including the Baby Boomer generation, now being called the “Silver Tsunami.” It is the Baby Boomers who are rapidly redefining what aging and growing older means and looks like in America today.

Now celebrating its 28th year in business, AYHF is among San Diego County’s Top  Women-Owned Businesses and Fastest Growing Businesses, and enjoys a reputation for upholding the highest possible standards among its employees and its emphasis on customer service.  Edwards-Tate is a valued contributor to the public dialogue on current issues and challenges in the home care industry, and serves in leadership roles on the Home Care Aide Association of America Advisory Board and Private Duty Home Care Association Advisory Board, as well as the Home Care Aide Steering Committee of the California Association for Health Services at Home.

Edwards-Tate is frequently interviewed in the media on healthy aging, caregiving, and health care topics. 

 Follow Laurie and AYHF  at; on Facebook at, and Twitter at @AYHFamilycare

Contact Laurie Edwards-Tate


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