Cancer Prevention in Dogs

Cancer Prevention in Dogs

Cancer Prevention in Dogs

By Jessica Pace

It is coming up to November again, and that means pet cancer awareness month is around the corner. Cancer will affect 1 in 3 dogs in their lifetime, and it is the leading cause of death for dogs. As pet owners we know it is better to prevent cancer rather than having to treat it. So, what can we do?

Breed of dog

Some breeds of dogs have much higher cancer prevalence than others. Listed below are examples.

  • Bermese mount dogs are at a higher risk of developing histiocytic sarcoma
  • Boxers and Staffordshire Bull Terriers are at a higher risk of developing mast cell tumours
  • Golden Retrievers are at a higher risk of developing lymphoma

This is not to say to choose against certain breeds for this reason, however, as an owner you need to take responsibility and learn what signs to look out for in the breeds that are more susceptible to cancer development.


Giving your dog a healthy and well-balanced diet is the best way to maintain their weight. If providing commercial food, provide the best quality to your dog. They need a good range of vegetables and some meats. We published an article about superfoods for your dog last month, so check it out here: Superfoods, Cancer & Immunity

It discusses the importance of foods like broccoli, berries, and garlic for a healthy, balanced diet. 


As with providing a balanced diet for your dog, exercise is also important in maintaining a healthy weight. There isn’t much research on the benefits of exercise for cancer prevention, but it is always important to ensure they are in a healthy condition to prevent illness and disease.

Sterilising your dog

Sterilisation for cancer prevention is something that is bone of contention for many. We know it is important in preventing certain cancers, such as those of the reproductive tract in both male and female dogs. However, sterilisation also potentially increases the risks of certain types of cancer. In females for example, sterilisation might increase the risk of skin tumours, lymphoma, and blood vessel cancers. Whilst in males, sterilisation might increase the risk of prostate cancer.

It is important to understand the cancer risks associated with your breed of dog, and the potential risks of sterilisation. Always discuss options with your Vet before making a decision for your furry friend.

Regular checks 

Regularly checking your dog over for any abnormalities is important for cancer prevention. It is also a good opportunity to bond with your dog and to better understand them when you need to discuss their health at future vet visits. Ensure to set aside ample time to do checks and avoid distractions for your dog. Be thorough with your checks, starting at the nose and going all the way to the tail. Keep a journal, even note when everything is normal, so when something may arise you will notice the difference.

Some things to look out for:

  • Nose: check for lesions, debris, and excessive drainage. Check for symmetry and whether it is wet or dry.
  • Eyes: look for any abnormal discharge, symmetry, shape, colour, and movement
  • Mouth: check for lesions, swelling, bad breath
  • Jawline: there should be a consistent texture and no sensitivity to touch
  • Ears: check for abnormal swelling, debris, or foul odour
  • Skin: check for excessive flakiness, lumps, or bumps especially around the spinal cord. Note any changes in skin colour or spots.
  • Torso: you are looking out for healthy muscle tone and weight
  • Legs: check for heat, bumps and swelling and ensure they have a full range of motion in their joints
  • Feet: check the claws and pads of their feet. There should not be discoloration, excessive heat, or debris.
  • Underbelly: look for lumps and discomfort or pain when palpating
  • Anus: look to ensure cleanliness, uniformity, and consistent colour 


Jessica is a regular guest contributor to Kodi's Paw-a-thon blog.
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