How to Protect Dogs From Cancer

Cancer not only affects humans. In fact, it's among the leading causes of death in pets, especially dogs. According to Parade magazine, half of all dogs will develop cancer during their lifetime.

So how can you protect your dog from cancer? Interestingly, in many of the same ways you can protect yourself. Like humans, dogs and other pets can develop cancer from exposure to all of the following:

  • Smoke
  • Sunlight
  • Radiation
  • Hormones
  • Chemicals
  • Immune System Failure
  • Viruses

Canine cancers are the most common. With over 100 varieties, canine cancer is the most prevalent among all domesticated pet species. In fact, according to the Canine Cancer Campaign, a non-profit organization focused on curing canine cancer, one in four dogs will die from the effects of cancer.

Many dog breeds even carry hereditary risk factors. Golden retrievers are at high risk for Lymphoma and cancers of the blood vessels and spleen. Retrievers are susceptible to Transitional Cell Carcinoma and Melanoma (skin/mouth) cancers. Boxers have been known to inherit Lymphoma and brain cancers. See which dog breeds are at risk for certain cancers, visit

Despite the many risk factors facing your dog, there's a lot you can do to help make sure they stay cancer free. Below are six critical steps you can take to protect your pets from cancer.

  1. Visit the Vet: Make sure you and your dog visit the veterinarian on a regular basis for cancer screenings and checkups. The sooner cancer is detected, the sooner it can be treated. This vastly improves the chances that your dog will beat the disease. Vets recommend a checkup every six months for dogs over 7. For younger dogs, an annual exam is a safe precautionary measure. The Canine Cancer Campaign and the Pet Cancer Foundation are now offering Free Cancer Consultations for pets, visit for more information.
  2. Doggy Exercise: To stay healthy, dogs need regular exercise. Studies have shown that exercise strengthens immunity to a range of diseases, including cancer. In fact, overweight pets are twice as likely to develop cancer than their healthy counterparts.
  3. Avoid Chemical Exposure: There are many known carcinogens that your dog interacts with everyday, but by keeping them away from herbicides, insecticides, and tobacco smoke, you can make sure they won't develop cancer from chemical exposure. Instead of using toxic house and garden products, choose non-toxic products and keep your pets away from secondhand smoke. Most importantly, don't use unnatural flea products on your pet, as many flea collars, sprays, and shampoos are full of poisons. Use natural, less-toxic methods of flea control. These include natural flea shampoos and frequent vacuuming. Pyrethins are a natural means of flea control.
  4. Spay and Neuter Pets: Simply spaying or neutering your dog can decrease the risk of breast cancer in females to almost zero; the risk of testicular cancer is zero for neutered males.
  5. Prevent Sunburn: While all dogs can get sunburned, short-haired and light-haired dogs carry a greater risk for developing skin cancers caused by overexposure to sunlight. Dogs need sunscreen just like their owners. Rub a bit on your dog's nose and ears.
  6. Avoid Contaminated Water: Keep your pet from drinking stagnant water in street puddles, which can contain cancer-causing toxins. Change your pets water daily, and make sure the bowl is clean and fresh.

Remember, even if your dog is diagnosed with cancer, all is not lost. Many cancers can be cured if they're discovered early. There are many other options too, including:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation
  • Chemotherapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Hyperthermia
  • Cyrosurgery

Don't forget that if your pet already has cancer, you should avoid all vaccinations because they can stress your pet's immune system. Still, active prevention is the best defense. Follow the tips above to reduce the risk of your pets developing cancer during their lifetime, and you'll enjoy more time together.