A cancer diagnosis can leave pet parents with many questions: What caused it? Am I taking good care of my dog? Following the sad news, pet parents often wonder if they could’ve done anything differently to prevent this horrible disease.
While no one’s to blame for dog cancer, taking charge of your pup’s health can put your mind at ease and keep them safe. No pet parent deserves to look back on their dog’s life with regrets. Incorporate preventative care into their daily routine to reduce their risk of dog cancer.
Feed your dog a healthy diet
A dog’s diet influences how well their body functions. While the cause of cancer remains unclear, a poor diet can hinder your pup’s ability to fight off harmful cells. Dry pet foods are often made with grain fillers that break down into carbohydrates. High-carb diets aren’t an ideal source of energy for dogs, and the resulting glucose levels serve only to fuel cancer growth.
To boost their defenses against malignant cells, choose a food that’s high in fat and protein. These macronutrients are a much more sustainable energy source and won’t encourage the spread of cancer. Throw in other helpful nutrients like antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, a type of unstable molecule that damages cells and makes them vulnerable to mutation. Omega-3 fatty acids help prevent cancer by reducing chronic low-grade inflammation.
Keep chemicals away from your dog
Household products are filled with chemicals that have been linked to cancer. Dogs might be exposed to antifreeze, fertilizer and pesticides because they’re close to the ground. As they wander around the yard, these products collect on your pup’s coat and paws. Toxic chemicals enter the body when the dog eats them directly or grooms themselves.
Help the fight against dog cancer by placing household products out of reach. Clean up spills of any kind and consider switching to antifreeze with pet-friendly ingredients. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for applying fertilizer to ensure it completely absorbs into the ground before your dog visits the yard.
Spay or neuter your pup
Leaving dogs intact may put them at a greater risk for cancers of the reproductive system. Female dogs are particularly at risk for cancer if they aren’t spayed at an early age. Many female dogs over the age of one are affected by mammary cancer, which causes tumors in their mammary glands. Spaying female dogs can minimize the hormonal impact on their mammary glands, reducing their risk.
Spaying can also reduce the risk of uterine and ovarian cancers. In males, neutering may reduce the risk of prostate cancer (although this is more rare in dogs).
Choose the right medications
Conventional pet medications can be a double-edged sword. They protect fur babies from deadly diseases, but they can also strain the liver and immune system. Vaccines make the immune system work overtime to produce antibodies for a virus your dog may never come across. Some flea and tick treatments contain aromatic hydrocarbons, which are chemicals linked to bladder cancer.
Dogs still need vaccines as well as flea and tick treatments. However, choosing medications wisely can help your pup get the most out of medical care without overloading them with unnecessary chemicals. Schedule their basic round of vaccines plus additional ones that are relevant to your dog’s lifestyle or environment. Speak with the vet about putting your dog on a more up to date flea and tick treatment.
Stick to regular vet checkups
Some risk factors are beyond your control. The unfortunate reality is many dog breeds are genetically predisposed for cancer. The most common examples include Labs, Golden Retrievers, Boxers and German Shepherds. No matter the breed, a dog’s risk for cancer increases as they get older. This is because their immune systems decline with the aging process, which makes it harder to kill abnormal cells.
The best way to protect your aging pup is to detect cancer in its early stages. Pet parents should plan regular checkups to stay in the know about their dog’s health. A vet will examine your pup for signs of abnormal cell growth and walk you through the appropriate next steps. Catching malignant tumors early on is crucial to achieving the best possible outcome.
Remember, it’s much easier to prevent cancer than to treat it! Preventative care not only saves money but also saves your pup from a heartbreaking fate. Prevention can’t promise a cancer-free life, but it will certainly decrease your dog’s risk and make them healthier in the process.