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How Long Can A Dog Live With Cancer? [2024 Guide]

Can Canine and Dog Live With Cancer? Well, Cancer does not affect humans alone. Sometimes, dogs are also affected, especially the older ones. The most common parts affected are the digestive system and skin. Female canines can also contract breast cancer.

So, how long does a dog live with cancer? Cancer is a widespread disease among animals. The disease affects reptiles, fish, birds, mammals, and mollusks. So, dogs are not left out. Typically, once cancer sets in, a dog may not live beyond two months. Read on and find out more about cancer in dogs.

Canine Cancer

Cancer means “crab” in Latin. The disease got its name due to the similarities it shares with the crab. This ailment has a crab-like tenacity. Also, it mostly grasps the tissues it affects. Cancer could be called a malignant tumor. Besides, it is known as malignancy or a neoplasm.

Cancer refers to abnormal cell growth. The disease usually escalates uncontrollably. In most cases, it spreads from one part of the body to another. Cancer is a disease comprising a group of more than a hundred different conditions.

Most cancers get named based on the organ or cell they affect first.

It is capable of affecting any bodily tissue. Also, it can have diverse forms in each part of the body it affects.

Cancer In Animals

Some animal species develop cancers that are similar to humans. Others become affected by a rare, contagious form of cancer. However, certain animal species rarely get affected by cancer.

Examples of animals that rarely contract cancer are naked mole rats, elephants, and bowhead whales.

Cockles and clams are susceptible to cancer attacks. Also, Tasmanian devils and dogs can contract cancer. Dogs get a deadly form of cancer.

This form tends to affect more of the stray dog populations. Dogs typically contract canine transmissible venereal tumors (CTVT).

Canine Transmissible Venereal Tumors are transmissible sexually. This transmissible cancer behaves like parasites. It functions as life- forms, which spread from one host to another.

Dog Cancer

Sometimes, the words used to explain cancer can confuse people. Tumors or growths are mostly cancerous. Sometimes, they are not, based on their activities in the body. Cancer is an uncontrollable growth of body cells.

The uncontrollable growth leads to diseases. It causes the formation of lumps in the organs it affects. Also, it tends to disrupt the activities of the organ. The disruptions in the body’s operations cause malfunctions of such organs.

Some growths remain in the tissue from where they begin. These sets of tumors are benign. Benign tumors are not cancers. Other lumps that encroach on different parts of the body are termed ‘”malignant.” Malignant tumors are cancerous.

Causes Of Cancer In Dogs

The most vital factors responsible for cancer in dogs are hereditary and genetic. Besides, the environment plays a massive role in the appearance of tumors in dogs.

Excessive exposure to the sun, tobacco smoke, and air pollution are some of the factors involved. According to statistics, certain dog breeds are more prone to cancer.

Another factor to consider is the weakening of the immune system. Weakening occurs mostly in older dogs. The older a dog is, the more exposed it is to the environment.

Some cancers are caused by certain viruses as well. The virus is transmissible during sexual intercourse.

The most effective way to detect early infection is by carrying out daily tests. Also, you need to pay attention when your pet starts acting abnormally. Unusual behaviors may be a sign. When this occurs, visit the veterinarian with your dog.

Spaying a bitch before the age of two tends to reduce the risk of breast tumors. However, there is no serious proof of the relation of cancer growth to dogs’ feeding and lifestyle.

Symptoms Of Cancer In Dogs

Though CBD oil for dogs with cancer is becoming popular, understanding and tackling cancers in dogs on time is a reasonable step to take.

Since cancer affects different parts of the body, its symptoms vary. Besides, most of its symptoms are commonplace to a vast range of diseases. As a result, one cannot base the diagnosis of cancer on symptoms only.

It is best to visit the veterinarian with your dog once you notice a lump. However, surface lumps are not always cancerous.

Also, early reports of sores that refuse to heal are necessary. Some other symptoms of tumors are weight loss, limping, and loss of appetite.

Others are difficulty in breathing, recurring digestive issues, lethargy, and weakness. All the mentioned symptoms do not necessarily amount to cancer. Sometimes, they may be signs of other ailments.

However, it is best to take your dog for a checkup. Cancers usually take a while to grow. Nonetheless, they can lead to sudden symptoms of sickness.

Veterinarians do not easily detect cases of cancer by merely looking at animals. Some tests will help ascertain the presence of cancer cells. If the tumor is still in its infancy, blood tests and screening come in handy. Also, the use of X-rays is involved.

The veterinarian may suggest an MRI or ultrasound scan. These scans help to discover if cancer has moved to other parts of the body.

The vets refer to this process as “staging.” Besides, the animal doctor may indicate the pet’s general health conditions. The dog’s health status will affect its ability to cope with treatment.

Another process involved is a biopsy. A biopsy involves taking a little sample for examination. Biopsies help the vet to identify the kind of tumor. Also, the vet can ascertain whether the tumor is cancerous or not.

It can be quite challenging to arrive at a specific diagnosis. A biopsy does not consistently provide adequate material when observed using a microscope.

Some Types Of Tumors And Cancers

Skin tumors

A lot of skin lumps are benign. Surgery helps to remove the growths. Sometimes, if the lump is enormous, there may be barriers. Also, difficulty may arise within a body.

The issue may affect wound repair. If such a case comes up, the vet will discuss it with the pet owner.

Unfortunately, some cancers recur in a place while some spread to new areas. Biopsies may help in identifying an aggressive lump.

On identification of such tumors, the vet may cut off a significant part of the skin. Doing this reduces the chances of spread or recurrence.

Lymphoma or Leukemia

Leukemia affects white blood cells. A lymphocyte, a white blood cell, is usually involved in this case. Lymphocytes uncontrollably increase in number when cancerous. Their activities typically lead to lumps in the throat and other internal organs like the bowel and liver.

Due to its rate of spread, surgery alone is not enough. If untreated, the survival period from diagnosis is usually about two months. However, with chemotherapy, survival can be prolonged to about twelve months. Owners can discuss expectations of survival with the vet.

Breast tumors

Dogs possess five breasts on each side of the stomach. The breasts form two rows of nipples. Mostly, breast tumors are benign. However, others are malignant. The best option is to remove only the lump or part of the breast tissue.

In some instances, it is advisable to cut off the remaining breast tissues. Often, removing tissues does not prevent internal spread. Lumps in the breast may eventually spread to the lungs.

So, carrying out a chest x-ray before surgery is advisable. However, the spread may not easily show. A bitch may be spayed during or after surgery to reduce the risk of recurrence.


A lot of tumors are in existence. Also, there is a treatment for both cancerous and non-cancerous cancers.

Surgery may cure an isolated lump that has not spread in the body. However, the success of the operation is dependent on the body part in question.

If the tumor occurs in the brain, it will be quite hard to remove. In a case where the cancer is branching inwards, treatment depends on the type of cancer. Also, treatment relies on the amount of area it encompasses.

In some instances, the veterinarian may suggest euthanasia. Mercy killing is advisable when the pet is in constant pain.

Three basic kinds of treatment are available for cancer in dogs. Treatment includes surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy.

The new therapies are immunotherapy and photodynamic. Also, some treatment methods require regular visits to your vet or specialists. Schedules for treatment may be at specific time intervals too.

For skin growths, surgery is more appropriate. Surgery can also treat internal tumors that are not distinctive. Before surgery, certain checks are necessary. There is a need to find out whether a removed lump will spread later.

At times, an operation may serve as a means of relieving the signs of cancer. However, the risk of re-emergence of the lump lingers.

Chemotherapy is quite useful for diverse types of cancer. Very few side effects usually come with veterinary chemotherapy. Sometimes, the pet does not experience any side effects.

It is because of the smaller doses administered as compared to the treatment of humans.

Sadly, chemotherapy is not a cure for cancer. The process slows cancer down and minimizes symptoms. Typically, chemotherapy follows surgery.

It usually happens when it is impossible to remove cancer entirely. So, in such cases, chemotherapy slows down the rate of recurrence.

Also, it helps to curb the spread of cancers that are impossible to remove through surgery. Examples of such cases involve white blood cells.

Your vet may help carry out the process of chemotherapy. However, you might need to consult specialists.

While treatment is ongoing, regular visits to the vet may be necessary. Also, your pet undergoes sedation during treatment. You may need to lay your hands on certain tablets too.

Some of the side effects of chemotherapy include diarrhea, vomiting, and loss of appetite.

Besides, the drugs used may necessitate a drop in the level of white blood cells. It, in turn, makes your pet susceptible to other infections. So, blood tests are necessary from the onset to curb this.

Specialist centers that offer radiotherapy are quite a few. However, the process of radiotherapy does not cure cancer. With radiotherapy, regular visits to the vet are as well necessary.

During each treatment, the vet administers an anesthetic on the pet. The anesthetic keeps the animal calm and still during the treatment.

Is Cancer Treatment Good For Dogs?

Veterinarians know the significance of keeping animals free of pain. So, they make use of effective painkillers during the treatment of dogs. However, not all dogs go through treatment without undergoing pain.

Once they begin to experience pain, the quality of life is lost. At this point, the owner and the vet must work as one to opt for euthanasia. Nonetheless, many a vet would never like to euthanize a healthy dog.

Signals Of Pain Due To Cancer In Dogs

Some of the symptoms which show that your dog is going through pain are:

  • Appetite loss
  • Restlessness
  • Being withdrawn
  • Behavioral change
  • Wagging tail occasionally
  • Improved behaviors with the administration of painkillers

How Long Does A Dog With Cancer Live?

The lifespan of a dog with malignant cancer is not predictable. An idea is obtainable only from the type of cancer and its level of advancement. Specific tests will help determine how long the dog will live.

Cancers, like all ailments, do not follow a particular course. Deteriorations in the pet may occur suddenly.

If untreated, a dog with cancer can live for about two months. With treatment, such a dog may be lucky to live for about twelve months.

A dog diagnosed with benign cancer can live for a long time. Dog with benign cancer can live an average life span, with or without treatment.

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Dogs, like human beings, are susceptible to cancer. However, their life expectancy from the period of diagnosis depends on some factors.

One of these is the type of cancer involved. Benign cancers may allow the dog to live a full life. If left untreated, a dog may live for two months or less in the case of malignant cancers.

In preventing the onslaught of cancer in your dog, daily checks are advisable. Also, once you notice some unusual behaviors or growths, take your pet to the vet.