Simple Habits to Lower Your Dog’s Cancer Risk Every Day

According to the National Cancer Institute, approximately six million new cancer diagnoses are made in dogs each year. It’s estimated that one in four dogs will develop cancer in their lifetime, with cancer being the leading cause of death in dogs past middle age.

“While some risk factors for cancer in dogs are beyond our control, such as genetic predispositions or weakened immune systems in older dogs, there are steps dog owners can take to reduce the likelihood of their canine companions developing certain types of cancer,” says Dr. Jerry Klein, Chief Veterinary Officer for the AKC.

Fighting Canine Cancer Through Fitness

Ensuring your dog is fit and healthy is key to minimizing cancer risks in dogs.

Importance of Good Nutrition for Dogs

While there is no magic formula to prevent cancer, a well-balanced diet provides your dog with essential nutrients and helps them combat cancer and other diseases. Consult your veterinarian for a diet that meets your dog’s nutritional needs.

Exercise and Weight Management

Maintaining a healthy weight through proper diet and exercise is crucial in preventing various health issues, including cancer. Overweight dogs are at a higher risk of developing bladder and mammary cancer. Additionally, benign tumors like lipomas are more common in overweight dogs, with a rare chance of these tumors becoming malignant (liposarcoma).

Lagotto Romagnolos walking through the forest with a senior woman.
Marcus Lindstrom via Getty Images

Regular Veterinary Checkups

According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, regular and thorough physical examinations by a veterinarian are recommended. Early detection and treatment offer the best chance for dogs to survive cancer and resume a normal quality of life. Yearly checkups are advised, with older dogs possibly needing more frequent visits.

Dental Examinations

Dental checkups can help in detecting tumors in a dog’s mouth. Early identification of oral cancer types like melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and fibrosarcoma enables timely surgical intervention for a chance at complete recovery.

Sterilization Benefits

Mammary cancer in female dogs and testicular cancer in males are among the common types of canine cancer. Sterilization has shown to reduce the risk in some cases, although there are conflicting studies on its association with increased cancer death risk. Early spaying or neutering may also impact cancer development, with studies indicating potential risks like lymphosarcoma and hemangiosarcoma.

Consult with your vet when considering spaying or neutering your dog, taking into account breed predispositions and individual health factors.

Understanding Breed-Specific Risks

Certain dog breeds may have higher risks of specific cancers. Researching health issues associated with your dog’s breed, staying alert to symptoms, and informing your veterinarian of breed-related risks are crucial steps. Choosing a reputable breeder can also influence your dog’s long-term health.

Being Attentive to Your Dog

As a dog owner, you are in the best position to notice any behavioral changes in your pet. Pay attention to their appetite, elimination habits, body changes, personality shifts, and activity levels. Any deviations should prompt consultation with a vet for early intervention.

Reducing Canine Cancer Risks in Your Environment

In addition to keeping your dog healthy, lifestyle and environmental changes can help minimize cancer risks. Studies show a correlation between certain chemicals or environmental factors and cancer in dogs and humans.

Household Chemicals and Paints

Research has linked canine bladder cancer and lymphoma to household insecticides and herbicides. Living in industrial areas and chemical use have also been associated with lymphoma in dogs. Proper storage of chemicals and household products is essential to prevent exposure to these risks.

Asbestos Exposure

Both dogs and people face cancer risks due to asbestos exposure. When handling asbestos, keep your dog away from the area to avoid potential health hazards.

Lawn Care Chemicals

Some lawn chemicals like pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides can increase cancer risks in dogs. Specific lawn care products have been linked to lymphoma in animals. Opting for pet-safe lawn care alternatives and avoiding chemical exposure can lower the risk for your dog.

UV Radiation

Excessive sun exposure can lead to skin cancers in dogs, especially those with light coats and areas with less hair. Providing shaded areas and using dog-safe sunscreen during peak sunlight hours can reduce the risk of skin cancers.

Irish Wolfhound head portrait on leash outdoors.Irish Wolfhound head portrait on leash outdoors.
Bigandt_Photography via Getty Images

Secondhand Smoke Exposure

Secondhand smoke exposure can increase the risk of nasal and lung cancers in dogs. Removing cigarette smoke from your home is vital in reducing these cancer risks for your pet.

Preventing Canine Cancer Is a Responsibility for Dog Owners

Responsible dog owners strive to protect their beloved pets from cancer by taking proactive steps to minimize risks and ensure a healthy lifestyle for their canine companions.

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Simple Habits to Lower Your Dog’s Cancer Risk Every Day