Most people consider cancer a human disease, but did you know that dogs can also be diagnosed? Unfortunately, cancer in dogs is “very common”, with more than half of all canines receiving a diagnosis after the age of 10. One type of cancer that frequently affects dogs is stomach (or gastric) cancer. And, we’re going to talk about it.
In this article, we’re sharing everything you need to know about stomach cancer in dogs. We’ll start by discussing what stomach cancer is and whether or not it can be treated. Then, we’re talking about information regarding dog breeds and cancer and ways you can prevent it in your dog. Finally, we’re giving you the best advice on early detection and the importance of regular wellness checks.
What is Stomach Cancer in Dogs?
Two different types of stomach tumors can affect dogs: benign and malignant. Malignant, or cancerous, stomach tumors can quickly spread to other areas of a dog’s body, including the liver, lymph nodes, and lungs. Because the stomach is surrounded by other organs, gastric cancer can be especially cruel. The main types of stomach cancer are:
Mast Cell Tumors
Can Stomach Cancer in Dogs be Treated?
A cancer diagnosis for your beloved pup can be terrifying. However, there is hope! Medical and technological advancements for treating stomach cancer in dogs have come quite far, especially in recent years. The most common forms of treatment for this type of cancer are:
Surgery is the first approach for solid tumors in the stomach of dogs. The tumor, along with affected areas of the stomach, is often removed during this initial surgery.
Chemotherapy is often recommended after the surgical removal of tumors, and is necessary for the treatment of blood cancers, like lymphoma. Unlike humans, dogs do not lose their hair during chemotherapy treatment.
Radiation is recommended for stomach tumors that cannot be removed through surgery. Radiation therapy is typically conducted under anesthesia to keep your dog still.
Are Certain Breeds Prone to Stomach Cancer?
Many dog breeds have a genetic predisposition to different types of cancers. But, stomach cancer, specifically, has also been known to affect certain breeds. According to research, the dog breeds most likely to be diagnosed with stomach cancer are:
Preventing Stomach Cancer in Dogs
Preventing stomach cancer in dogs is a complicated topic. That’s because the exact cause of most types of cancer in dogs is unknown. However, as pointed out above, certain factors can contribute to your dog’s overall risk, including age and breed.
The Merck Veterinary Manual also outlines key lifestyle steps you can take to help decrease a dog’s risk of developing stomach cancer. The most helpful of these steps are to:
Feeding your dog a well-balanced diet
Limiting known risk factors for cancer
Controlling your dog’s exposure to certain substances
Taking your dog for regular wellness checks
Recognizing Symptoms of Stomach Cancer in Your Dog
For many dogs, stomach (gastric) cancer is a “silent killer.” There are very few signs and symptoms of the disease before it’s in the advanced stage, which makes it more difficult to treat successfully. It’s for this reason that regular wellness checks are so important for dogs. They can help detect stomach cancer in dogs before it spreads throughout the body and begins causing widespread symptoms.
Warning signs to be aware of that could indicate stomach cancer in your dog include:
Loss of Appetite
Changes in Bowel Movements
Detecting Stomach Cancer in Dogs Through Wellness Checks
As we mentioned above, early detection of stomach cancer in dogs can be quite difficult. This is because symptoms don’t typically become apparent until it’s far too late. This makes regular wellness checks for your pup even more important. They make early detection possible. Regular wellness checks for your dog also allow you to ask questions about your pet’s health and raise any possible concerns.
To help your dog’s vet detect any cancer growth as early as possible, you should:
Have any growths tested
Plan for routine blood work at each visit
Approve any preventative imaging your vet recommends
Research potential cancer screening tests that might be available
How Often Should Dogs Have a Wellness Check?
There is no set schedule for bringing your dog in for a routine wellness check. The timing is heavily dependent on multiple elements, including their breed and overall health. For the most part though, regular veterinary visits are recommended based on a dog’s age.
Wellness Checks for Puppies
In the first six months of life, many puppies see their vet almost monthly. This is to receive regular preventative medicine, like vaccines, deworming, and tick prevention. A few months after that, most puppies are ready for their spay/neuter.
Wellness Checks for Adult Dogs
Between 1-8 years old, most dogs do well with a visit to their vet once per year. At these visits, vaccine boosters can be administered and your dog’s health can receive an assessment. These are the best opportunities for you to raise minor concerns, and to talk to your pet’s vet about cancer prevention.
Wellness Checks for Senior Dogs
Once a dog is approximately 8-10 years old, depending on the breed, they are considered a senior pet. Senior dogs are typically seen twice per year to stay on top of the development of disease and allow pet owners to take advantage of preventive medicine.
Tips for Affording Vet Care for Your Dog
Your dog is a part of your family, and they deserve health care too. But, shopping for pet insurance can be confusing and overwhelming.
Fursure helps simplify the process. We gather all the necessary info about your pet, including their age, breed, and gender to begin analyzing the best insurance policies for you.
Then, we help match you to the best insurance plan for you and your furry friend, getting your pup covered and your wallet protected.
The best part about this process is that it’s entirely free!