Friday, September 11, 2009

CANCER, an evil word and an even more evil disease & Remembering the dogs of 9/11

In my lifetime I have had one dog die as a result of cancer. That dog, Tony (see my sidebar), was my heart dog. A once in a life blessing that people who truly love dogs experience. It's that bonding and almost "mind meld" between you and your canine companion. It's a time when you cease to see at your feet a dog but something more - something better - something so valuable that the mere thought of going through life without it takes your breath away. You are never the same again...

Tony, like most dogs, was stoic about pain. I had no clue what was going on inside his body until less than 24 hours before I had to allow him to leave this earth and to travel to a better place to wait for me. Tony's life ended as a result of hemangiosarcoma. When I found this article I felt a need to share the information, because if only one dog, or cat, is diagnosed early, treated early, and lives longer my heart will sing.

From the ASPCA:

Black puppy looking up
Finding out that a loved one has cancer can be very scary and confusing. When that loved one is your dog, it’s important to keep in mind that different veterinarians might have different views on the best way to treat the disease. It’s always a good idea to seek out a second opinion, perhaps from a veterinary oncologist, and carefully review your options.

What Is Cancer?

Cancer is a class of diseases in which cells grow uncontrollably, invade surrounding tissue and can spread to other areas of the body. As with people, dogs can get various kinds of cancer. The disease can be localized (confined to one area, like a tumor) or generalized (spread throughout the body).

What Causes Cancer in Dogs?

Cancer is a “multifactorial” disease, which means it has no known single cause. However, we do know that hereditary and environmental factors can contribute to the development of cancer in dogs.
What Are the General Symptoms of Cancer?

Symptoms of cancer in dogs may include:
  • Lumps (which are not always malignant, but should always be examined by a vet)
  • Swelling
  • Persistent sores
  • Abnormal discharge from any part of the body
  • Bad breath
  • Listlessness/lethargy
  • Rapid, often unexplained weight loss
  • Sudden lameness
  • Black, tarry stools (a symptom of ulcers, which can be caused by mast cell tumors)
  • Decreased or loss of appetite
  • Difficulty breathing, urinating or defecating
How Is Cancer Diagnosed?

If a lump is present, the first step is typically a needle biopsy, which removes a very small tissue sample. Alternately, surgery may be performed to remove all or part of the lump for diagnosis by a pathologist.

Radiographs, ultrasound, blood evaluation and other diagnostic tests may also be helpful in determining if cancer is present or if it has spread.

Which Dogs Are Prone to Cancer?

Older dogs are much more likely to develop cancer than younger ones, and certain breeds are prone to specific kinds of cancers. Boxers, Boston terriers and golden retrievers are among the breeds that most commonly develop mast cell tumors. Large and giant breeds, like Great Danes and Saint Bernards, are much more likely to suffer from bone cancer than smaller breeds. It is important to be familiar with the diseases to which your dog might have a breed predisposition.

How Can Cancer Be Prevented?

You can dramatically reduce your dog’s chance of getting certain types of cancer by having him or her altered at a young age. Breast cancer, the most common cancer for female dogs, can be avoided almost completely by having your dog spayed before her first heat cycle. And of course, a properly neutered male dog has zero chance of developing testicular cancer. Additionally, some believe that adding antioxidants such as vitamins C and E to a dog’s diet will reduce the likelihood of cancer.

How Is Cancer Treated?

Treatment options vary and depend on the type and stage of cancer. Common treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and immunotherapy. A combination of therapies may be used. Success of treatment depends on the form and extent of the cancer and the aggressiveness of the therapy. Of course, early detection is best.

Some dog owners opt for no treatment of the cancer at all, in which case palliative care, including pain relief, should be offered. Regardless of how you proceed after a diagnosis of cancer in your pet, it is very important to consider his quality of life when making future decisions.

Some cancers can be cured, and almost all patients can receive at least some benefit from treatment. Please note that if your dog’s cancer is not curable, there are still many things you can do to make your pet feel better. Don’t hesitate to talk to your vet about your options. And don’t forget that good nutrition and loving care from all the members of your family can greatly enhance your dog’s quality of life.

When Is It Time to See the Vet? 
If your dog is exhibiting any of the symptoms mentioned in the above list, contact your veterinarian immediately. Should your dog receive a diagnosis of cancer, you may wish to consult a veterinary cancer expert. Many specialty veterinary practices and veterinary college teaching hospitals employ them.

It is with great reverence we direct you to the site for THE WORLD TRADE CENTER'S HEROIC RESCUE DOGS. I can remember no other disaster in modern history when so many dedicated handlers and well trained rescue canines gathered together in one place to give their all for the good of man, with some losing their lives as a result. Please, visit this site, but go when you have the time to spend - there is so much to see and to read - take along your tissues as they will be mandatory for all of us who know the true value of a dog at your side.

Scout and Freyja would like you to come see them tomorrow when they open their Paw-it-forward package from Teddy Bear, a furry good friend.


Samantha said...

Oh Scout, Frejya - thanks so much for posting this (sometimes tough-to-read but...) informative article as well as your love for Tony and the special bond you had. In the last year, I've know three dogs who have gotten hemangiosarcoma. My vet has known so many more, obviously, including one of his dogs. I will take a look at that site tomorrow as this week has been a blur. Sorry I've taken to long to respond to your post! But thanks so much for posting!
Hugs xo

The 'splorin' Wolfies said...

beautiful post, beautiful Blog

YD, sometimes with Samantha & June said...

Tony was a beautiful dog. Thank you for posting this.

Thoughts said...

We unfortunately have experience with cancer in dogs as well. We lost our dear Golden Joshua to cancer in 1997. It was horrible and came on so quick we barely had time to adjust, much less say a proper goodbye.
Thanks for posting this information about cancer for other pet owners, it may help someone down the line...


Dory and the Mama said...

What a wonderful and informative post!!!

Thank you!

Mango said...

I have heard other stories of doggies who don't tell their people they feel funny until they have the cancer everywhere. Thank you for telling momma how important it is to keep an eye on me.

And thank you also for that wonderful article on the brave rescue doggies.


Sue said...

Another great post...and your music kills me! It's almost like instant tears!

The OP Pack said...

More good info. we know all too well the horror of cancer having just lost one and still holding on to hope for another. You can never check them over enough. Thanks for posting this.

Hugs, the OP Pack

Khyra The Siberian Husky And Sometimes Her Mom said...

Once again, a furry wonderful and inFURmative post!

Mom feels furry lukhky with her khanines fur none of them have been lost to the nasty 'c' word.

She intends to see that I'm Lukhky #7!

Tank woo fur the link to the khanine heroes of 9/11...their stories make Mom leak even more than most of the others out there.


Teddy Bear said...

Thank you so much for the very informative post. Our hearts are with you as you remember Tony. We are so glad that the package arrived safely.

Teddy Bear

Carolyn said...

Great post, great information!

I had almost the same thing happen to me - Kesey was fine one day and irreversibly ill the next. Nowadays I take comfort in the fact that he went so quickly.

Thanks for sharing your boy, Tony, with us!


Shelley said...

So sorry to hear about your sweet boy! So glad you posted all this great information on cancer in dogs - good stuff to know!! I lost my labrador Shana to cancer and I still think about her often.

Maxx said...

Thank you for this informative post. Mommy dreaded the C word so..She's been reading a lot about it eversince her friend's dog lost the battle to C. She wants to make sure we never have to go through it.


Inigo Flufflebum and d'Artangan Rumblepurr said...

A very informative post, thank you for sharing :)

Ruby and Penny said...

Hi Scout & Freyja
We're sorry your Tony had cancer.
Mom lost her first pet, a cat last year to cancer.
Thanks for all the info. It is very much appreciated.
Love Ruby & Penny

My Carolina Kitchen said...

Our collie had cancer and she was so brave. Braver than I would have been, that's for sure. We lived in Texas at the time and refused to accept the diagnosis that nothing could be done. We put her in the back of the plane and flew here to the vet school at nearby Texas A&M. They came up with chemo-treatments that she bravely took for eleven months. This post brought back many memories. Thanks so much.

And thanks for stopping by my kitchen. Happy pink Saturday to you too.

Bijou said...

Thanks for sharing this with us. Tony was a very handsome and brave doggy.

Wags & wiggles,

Piappies World said...

Hi Scout & Frejya,
We're so happy to meet you and we'd love to be friends. Thank you so much for the very informative post. Sorry to hear about Tony - he was a very beautiful dog.

- Fudgie, Princess, Scrappy, Bullet

Hansel said...

one lady asked our vet when she presented a lump to him "yeah, i heard that golden retrievers are most prone to cancer. Is that true?" he replied,
"well, golden retrievers are also one of the top pets. So, if you take a breed that is most common- sure, it'll have cancer more frequently than other breeds. But i don't know if it's safe to say cancer is most common in goldens. Statistics are not always perfect".

So i don't think cancer is more common in one breed than another. Mom's works for a vet.... and she's seen cancer just as frequent in every breed. Actually, she's seen tons of seizures in Goldens- and less cancer! more cancer in Rottis & boxers. But everyone there either has a lab or a boxer or golden.

tula said...

hey scout & freya,
mom's last 2 dogs had different types of cancers. she didn't recognize the signs ... and felt terrible by letting much time pass & didn't know what to ask either :( mwuah for bringing this to people's attention.


Kenia Cris said...

Thanks for this wonderful post. tutti was diagnosed with Cancer some months ago and we took her to the vet to have the tumor removed. She's fine now and giving her best for our happiness. Dogs always do.

Much love from Brazil.

Dennis the Vizsla said...

Good post. The first clue we had that our Pooh Bear had a tumor on her liver was when it started bleeding into her abdomen, causing it to become distended. A few hours later we were with her as the vet euthanized her.

Sir Chance-Lot said...

Thanks for stopping by today~YOu understand me!!!!!! hehehe
Lots of golden smiles
Sir Chancelot