Our Toledo vets sometimes have the sad task of diagnosing cancer in a dog. An owner's first question is usually, 'How long can my dog live with cancer?'. Today, we explain why this is such a difficult question to answer, even with today's advanced diagnostics and treatments.
Cancer in Dogs
Similar to humans, several cancers can develop in dogs. Dog cancers can vary widely in the speed at which they grow and spread, how easily they're treated, and the estimated life expectancy for dogs diagnosed with that specific cancer.
Factors including your dogs breed, age and general health may also influence how long your dog survives after receiving a cancer diagnosis.
Types of Cancers Commonly Seen in Dogs
Though cancer can develop in dogs of any size or breed, some cancers appear to plague certain breeds more often - such as the high rates of bladder cancer in Scottish Terriers.
Some of the most common cancers we see in dogs include:
- Bladder cancer
- Lung cancer
- Liver cancer
- Mast cell tumors
- Skin cancers
- Pancreatic cancer
- Mammary cancer
- Adrenal cancer
Predicting Life Expectancy For Dogs With Cancer
Trying to predict the life expectancy for a dog with cancer is extremely difficult for vets, particularly considering that few pets with cancer will die naturally. When symptoms become severe many pet parents opt to euthanize their dog as a way to prevent suffering. Meaning that, for many dogs with cancer it is the pet owner that ultimately decides how long their dog lives following a cancer diagnosis.
With that in mind, if we look at an example of two dogs diagnosed with the same cancer. One dog may receive the very best treatment available for that particular cancer and go on to live a good quality of life for a year or more, whereas the other may belong to a family unable to pay for such treatment and may need to be euthanized soon after diagnosis.
It is also the case that some cancers are relatively easy to remove surgically if diagnosed early, whereas for other cancers surgery is not an option. For some chemotherapy may be effective, whereas other cancers may not respond to chemo at all.
What Your Vet Can Tell You
While your vet will be able to give you information regarding the average lifespan of dogs with a particular cancer this number may not be accurate in terms of how long your beloved pet might live.
Nonetheless, your vet should be able to provide you with information regarding how your dog's disease is likely to progress and whether effective treatments are available.
Your vet understands that finding out that your dog has cancer is very upsetting and that you will be eager to get the most accurate information possible in order to decide the best way forward for your canine companion.
Trust that your vet has your dog's best interests at heart - and yours.
Veterinary Oncology at Shoreland Animal Hospital
Veterinary oncology is a subspecialty of veterinary medicine that deals with cancer diagnosis and treatment in pets.
When detected early, many types of cancer can be successfully treated and your pet's longevity and quality of life can be extended for months or years to come. Our veterinarian, Dr. Kim Riker-Brown, offers pet oncology services at Shoreland Animal Hospital and is committed to providing the highest standard of care and treatment for pets with cancer.
When you bring your dog or cat into our oncology unit, their medical history and diagnosis will be reviewed before our veterinarian sits down with you and your pet to discuss the disease, staging, treatment options and prognosis.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.