Tony Reeves

Medically Reviewed By

Piet Hellemans, DVM
Veterinarian & Veterinary Consultant

There is nothing more devastating and alarming to know or suspect that your dog has cancer. Will your dog survive? How severe is the treatment going to be? How much is it going to cost? So many questions clog your mind and could leave you confused. 

Although there are loads of information on the internet today, it becomes difficult to spot the right information that is reliable and practical, especially when it comes to cancer. 

Therefore, it is a dog owner’s individual responsibility to gather the physical strength and mental stamina to handle this rough patch efficiently. Moreover, early and right diagnosis, appropriate treatment, guidance from your vet and specialist could play a crucial role in curing your dog. 

In short, this post could give you an overview of cancer in dogs, what signs to look for, and also discuss some options for a good diet.  

How common is cancer in dogs?

Experts say that around half of the dogs over the age of 10 stand a chance to develop cancer. It is distressing to note from estimates that state that the incidence of cancer in dogs is the same as in humans and the leading cause of death in dogs beyond middle age.  

So, the bad news is, cancer is indeed a common condition that affects dogs. But, the good news is that dogs can be successfully treated. Credits to advances in medical technology, accessibility to early diagnosis, right treatment, and awareness are all positive approaches to overcome the disease. 

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Why do dogs get cancer?

Pet owners and veterinarians point out that dogs develop cancer mostly at a later stage of their life. Whereas animal researchers identify collective factors such as age, genetics, environmental, and nutritional factors that cause this complex condition. 

But do all dogs get affected? 

Dog breeds prone to cancer

Specific breeds like Golden Retrievers, Boxers, Bernese Mountain Dogs, and Rottweilers are commonly more prone to develop cancer, reports one study.

Another study records Leonbergers, Irish wolfhounds, and Great Danes as high-risk dog breeds. 

There is no reason to get alarmed if you own any of the breeds mentioned above. These breed names have been mentioned in specific case studies. Other studies point out other breeds of dogs as well. Moreover, veterinarians opine that more than half of the cancer conditions in dogs are benign. But, much research has been done on malignancies. Therefore, Canine research continues to expand to give us specific conclusive facts. 

In particular, rapid advancement in medicine and technology, access to sophisticated treatment, availability of specialists, of course, good nutritious food, all of which allow us to treat and cure our pets efficiently.

Most common cancer in dogs

  • Skin Cancer is also referred to as Mast cell Tumors that cause inflammation close to the external surface like skin, nose, lungs, and mouth.
  • Skin tumors are common too. But, they are benign. 
  • Melanoma is a typical malignant cancer type in a dog’s mouth. 
  • Canine Lymphoma one of the most common types affecting lymph nodes, spleen, liver, bone marrow, and gastrointestinal tracts in dogs
  • Yet another frequent form that attacks dogs is bone cancer or Osteosarcoma.  It hits the skeleton, the skull, ribs, vertebrae, and pelvis. These aggressive tumors mostly affect large breeds. 
  • One more malignant type that could spread rapidly anywhere in the body is the Hemangiosarcoma. It affects the spleen, heart, and liver.

Signs that your dog might have cancer

In most situations, your pet might not show any signs of sickness. As mentioned above, benign cancers in many cases might not show any symptoms. Malignant cancers however sometimes might be at an advanced stage before it is even diagnosed. 

Therefore watch out for some of the signs below that your pet might prompt you to take immediate action.

  • Decrease or loss of appetite
  • Aggression
  • Weight loss 
  • Sleeplessness
  • Disinterest or reluctance in playing or any activity
  • Excessive thirst or urination
  • A wound that has not healed 
  • Lameness or swelling
  • In some cases vomiting, and diarrhea.

How is cancer in dogs usually treated?

Surgical care, combining surgery and chemotherapy,radiation therapy and immunotherapy are all modern ways to treat cancer in dogs.

Cancer vaccinations are an example of immunotherapy.  A melanoma vaccine for dogs is now also accessible. 

There is also research being done on a host of other immunotherapy modalities in which the dog’s own immune cells are used to destroy its own cancer cells.

Either one of these treatments can be suggested by your vet, but they all combine well with a carefully created diet. 

Diet for dogs with cancer

The first thing that depresses a pet owner is when dogs don’t eat. Whether in the beginning days or during their treatment phase, dogs tend to show less interest in eating.

There is no ideal cancer diet for dogs. Nevertheless, pet owners need to devise a smart plan to keep their pets well fed. A good diet could prevent weight loss and could go a long way in helping your dog recover faster. 

Many dog owners try home cooking combined with many tips and tricks to encourage their pets to eat. Considering that sickness is the fundamental cause of their decreased appetite, Veterinarians recommend fresh, easy to digest, palatable food that stimulates their sense of smell and taste. 

Some of the foods that you could give your dog are:

  • plain boiled rice, 
  • pasta, 
  • eggs, 
  • chicken broth without salt or fat, 
  • oil supplements rich in omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids like hemp oil,  or flaxseed oil 
  • Cruciferous vegetables, etc

Try to add more flavor and smell to your dog’s meal by infusing CBD oil (chicken flavor) to plain boiled rice or pasta. Or you could just toss some cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, spinach and add a few drops of CBD oil. 

It would be a good idea to keep the quantity lower than your dogs’ typical amounts so that they could consume all of it at one go and the next feed could be fresh.

At times sick dogs resist eating. So, pet owners try different tricks like changing their bowls, hand feeding, changing their eating place, etc. 

Besides, do consult and discuss with your veterinarian about your dog’s diet. Try and chat with other pet owners who could also share their experiences with you.

How much CBD oil can I mix with my dog’s food?

Essentially whenever you try anything new on your pets, make it a practice to consult your veterinarian. Depending on the size of the dog and how many times a day it eats, you can mix up to 4 drops per day.  If your dog eats twice a day, mix 2 drops of CBD oil with each meal.

Wrap up

To sum up, cancer is a common epidemic that affects most dogs. But it is definitely treatable as long as pet owners are aware and vigilant at an early stage. As your dogs get older, pet owners could become more proactive by sparing some time to massage your dog while petting or playing with them. Take the opportunity to gently observe for lumps and bumps or painful points that might have missed your vet’s attention.

Home-cooked bland fresh food mixed with cbd oil could be an alternative choice to encourage your pets to eat. Lastly, continue to love your dogs and share your spirits with them and help them bounce back to health. 


David is our expert for all things concerning CBD and your four-legged friends. Animals often need special attention and care and that's David’s specialty, but he’s also an expert in all CBD topics, so whatever your question, he's happy to help.

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