Dog breast cancer, more commonly known as mammary cancer, is one of the many types of tumors that can develop in canines.
While cancer is often considered to be a deadly illness, it's actually not that common for it to kill dogs. When cancerous tumors are fatal, it's usually because they either grew on a vital organ, or started in another body part before spreading to a vital organ due to lack of dog cancer treatment.
Most forms of dog cancers can be neutralized with proper dog first aid medical care. However, it's still important to recognize the signs of dog breast cancer so that you can properly combat it if you ever need to.
As the name suggest, dog breast cancer affects the mammary glands.
In canines, the mammary glands are associated with the nipples, and run along the underside of the body. They extend from the chest to the groin, lining both sides of the abdomen. Mammary cancer in dogs tends to be more common in older females who haven't been spayed; statistics indicate that mammary tumors affect one out of every four unspayed female dogs above the age of four.
While the nature of the dog diseases is similar, there are a number of big differences between canine mammary cancer and human breast cancer, including tumor type, malignancy and the possible treatments that are available for it.
Dogs are vulnerable to many different kinds of mammary tumors, which are just as likely to be harmless as they are to threaten the animal's health. 50 percent of all canine mammary tumors are benign, and 50 percent are malignant. They vary wildly, some being small nodules while others are large, uncontrolled metastatic growths.
The most common type of tumor to show up in dogs is actually a blend of multiple types of cancerous cells. A single tumor being comprised of many different kinds of cells is rare in most other species, and in dogs, this amalgamation of cells is known as a benign mixed mammary tumor. This type of tumor contains glandular and connective tissue.
It's easy to detect when a dog has mammary gland tumors. They form a solid mass in the mammary tissue, and can be detected simply by examining the mammary glands with the hands; the tumors will feel like hard pieces of gravel and will be difficult to move around beneath the skin. The tumors can grow on any gland, but it's generally more common for them to form on the fourth and fifth glands.
It's also possible to guess the malignancy of the dog cancer based on the feel of the tumors. Benign growths will often feel smooth and small, and they don't grow very fast.
By contrast, malignant tumors are characterized by alarmingly rapid growth, irregular shapes, bleeding and formation of ulcers. It's not unheard of for small, slow-growing tumors to suddenly start growing larger and faster. However, this is a fairly rare occurrence.
Only your vet can tell you for sure if what your dog has is malignant. If you suspect that this is the type of cancer, make sure to get a professional opinion.