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4 min read

How to Prevent Your Dog from Getting Cancer


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You don't have to choose between your pet and your wallet when it comes to expensive vet visits. Prepare ahead of time for unexpected vet bills by finding the pawfect pet insurance.


What you may not know is that cancer is considered to be the leading cause of death in dogs over the age of two. According to the latest research, approximately 50 percent of all adult dogs are likely to die of cancer. It's hard to believe that this many of our four-legged friends are likely to die from cancer, but armed with a little knowledge, you can bend the odds in your favor to help keep your dog from suffering from this deadly disease.

Cancer gets its start when carcinogens enter your dog's body and wreak havoc on his DNA. The damaged DNA then lies in wait for the perfect time to create the cancer cells responsible for the disease. What you might not know, and it's good news, is that your dog's body comes with its own built-in cancer-killing mechanism. This is a gene called p53, but the problem is that in today's world your dog is exposed to so many viruses and toxins that they can overwhelm the gene, limiting its ability to stop the spread of cancerous cells within your dog's body.

We also know that the vast majority of cancer treatments have limited success rates. With this in mind, the best cure for cancer in dogs lies in prevention. Thankfully, there are several things you can do prevent cancer in your furry pal.

Reduce your dog's exposure

Today, your four-legged family member is exposed to an amazing array of toxins that are known to cause cancer. This includes things like flea and tick medicines, weed killers, fertilizers, flame retardants, tobacco smoke, and almost every form of common household cleaner. According to a 6-year study conducted by the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, exposure to lawn pesticides applied by a professional lawn care service can increase the risk of canine malignant lymphoma by up to 70%.

We live in a world besieged by toxic chemicals, and it is impossible for you and your dog to completely avoid coming into contact with them. Because of this, you should consider working with your vet to create a detox program for your dog that will help to flush his system of these toxins.

Choose the right time to spay or neuter

Spaying and neutering are important prevention steps, as they can reduce or eliminate the risk of certain reproductive cancers in both male and female dogs. However, the timing of the procedure is significant; there have been many studies into the relationship between early spaying or neutering and canine cancer. 

In 2002, a study released pointed to a significantly increased rate of canine cancer in dogs who were spayed or neutered before one year of age. Another study conducted at the University of California, Davis found that spayed female golden retrievers had 3 to 4 times the rate of cancer overall, compared to those who were not spayed. Today, many vets agree that you should wait until your dog is at least 2 years of age before you have them spayed or neutered.

Feed your dog a healthy diet

In as much as human beings' rate of cancer can be seriously affected by the foods we eat, so too can your dog be affected in the same way. Many people believe that the advent of commercial dog food has led to a significant increase in the rate of cancer among dogs. Be sure you are feeding your dog a breed-appropriate diet and that you always buy premium quality dog food. Look for foods that are made locally or in facilities where you know the quality control regulations are strictly adhered to. Another option is to make your own dog food from scratch, so you can know exactly what is going into it.

Avoid unnecessary vaccinations

Despite the high risk of cancer associated with vaccinations, many vets are still keen on giving the pets in their care an incredible regimen of vaccinations. To be sure, there are several your dog needs in order to prevent a variety of diseases. But, the reality is there are many that are either not necessary or should only be given under advisement. Talk to your vet about the various vaccinations and work with him to create a regimen that will reduce your dog's risk of cancer while still protecting him from disease.

The regimen you agree to should take into account your dog's breed, weight, overall health, his family history, his nutritional status, and his vitality. Once the initial vaccinations have been given, there is not always a need for a follow-up dosage. Be sure to ask your vet to titer your dog's blood using the IFA method approximately two weeks after he has been given his last set of shots. If the titer shows he has been successfully immunized, he should be good for the rest of his life without extra and unnecessary vaccinations.

The importance of prevention

While these tips have been proven effective in helping to prevent canine cancer, they will also help to improve your pet's overall health. Most of these methods of prevention have received the approval of numerous well-respected vets and veterinary colleges or universities. The medical community is still working on determining the exact causes of canine cancer. With this in mind, the best possible cure is early detection and treatment.

Be sure your dog gets in to see his vet for an annual checkup that includes a full series of bloodwork as these tests are an essential part of detecting cancer early and ensuring your dog gets the right treatment.

Finally, when you set out to make your dog's environment healthier, you may find it has the same effect on your world. For example, keeping tobacco smoke away from your dog may encourage you to take the plunge and quit smoking yourself. Since lawn care chemicals are toxic to your dog, it only stands to reason they are bad for you and your family. Instead of using toxic chemicals to kill weeds and pests, consider using natural products to do the same thing (there are many natural/organic products that are equally effective and completely non-toxic).

Keeping your dog as healthy as possible is the best possible cure for cancer as, in most cases, it can prevent the formation of cancerous cells that lead to a wide variety of different types of cancer. Prevention is always going to be the best cure and the least expensive form of treatment.

Be prepared for the unexpected by checking out our pet insurance comparison tool. See how insurance plans from leading companies like Figo and Healthy Paws compare so you can choose the right policy for your pet!

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