Spaying may help lower risk
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and as we take time to honor those humans we love who have battled (or who currently are battling) breast cancer, I also wanted to share some important information that may be news to you—dogs can get breast cancer, too. (Technically, in dogs, it’s called canine mammary carcinoma.)
According to The University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, mammary tumors are the most common tumors in female dogs (they can occur in male dogs, too, but are rare). And while it’s important to note that not all mammary tumors in dogs are cancerous, about 40- to 50-percent of them are diagnosed as malignant.
Although canine mammary carcinoma can occur in younger dogs, studies indicate that unspayed female dogs who are 6 years old and up tend to be at the greatest risk for developing the disease. And as with cancers in humans, treatment options and prognosis are very much dependent upon the type of cancer, when it’s diagnosed and how far it may have progressed.
So what can you do?
So what can you do?
• Be vigilant and be aware of your dog’s body. Give your dog regular breast examinations just as you would yourself. If you notice anything suspicious (e.g. lumps or hard spots, even pea or BB sized) in one or more of your dog’s breasts (remember that she/he has several), have it checked out by your dog’s vet.
• Have your female dog spayed prior to her first heat. Malignant canine mammary tumors appear to be hormone dependent, and the chances of them developing later in life seem to drop significantly when a female dog has been spayed at a young age.
Cancer can be a very scary word, particularly when used about someone we love (whether human or dog); however, having quality information can help. If you’d like to read more about canine mammary cancer, please take a look at the links below, conduct your own Internet search (just make sure the information comes from a trusted source), or ask your vet.
And in the interest of helping to inform others about canine mammary carcinoma, please feel free to share this page with your friends and fellow dog lovers everywhere.
From the humans: please note that Blade is not a doctor; he’s a dog. A very smart dog, for sure… but one with no formal medical training (yet). So, if you have any questions or concerns about your dog’s health, please consult your vet.