In the last post, we looked at some controllable factors that can be used to decrease risk of cancers in dogs.
These were adopting pets that have lower genetic risks of cancers, keeping dogs lean, and opting for spaying between the second and third heats (we gain mammary cancer protection while also avoiding osteosarcoma risk due to early spay).
Let’s look at more risk factors that can tip the scale to a cancer-free life for a loved dog.
How about early castration? This was shown to increase the risk of the most common type of bladder cancer (transitional cell carcinoma), and prostate cancers.
It was also found that spaying increases the risk of developing lymphoma, a common white blood cell cancer in dogs. The study did not look at the age of the spay. My hope is that future work will show that spays later in life eliminate this increase risk, but I cannot be sure.
For these reasons and those in the last post, I advise my clients to castrate their make dogs after a year of age if possible.
Now let’s look at some common carcinogens.
Cigarette smoke causes cancer. Like children, dogs inhale second hand smoke. This has been shown to increase the odds of nasal cancer in dogs with longer muzzles. It seems obvious that cigarette smoking should not be done in the presence of loved dogs.
Carcinogens can be found as a consequence of diet. Food prepared at high temperatures can lead to heat-produced carcinogens. This happens at above 300 degrees F, which one finds in frying pans, ovens, grills, and during preparation of common commercial pet foods and treats.
Since this is a topic that usually creates a lot of emotional reactions when discussed, I will leave you with some reading material (here) so the reader may research this independently and arrive at the logical end point: heterocyclic amines, acrylamide, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons result from high cooking temperatures and these are carcinogens.
The advice I give clients is to choose foods that are cooked at low temperatures, which is a selling point of a lot of the newer “boutique” type pet foods.
Another problem are the N-nitroso compounds. These form in the stomach (human research) from compounds like sodium nitrite, along with dietary protein. Bacteria that live in the stomach and intestine for form N-nitroso compounds from precursors like sodium nitrite, many of which are classified as probable carcinogens.
For this reason I advise my clients to avoid sodium nitrate as a preservative, which is commonly used in dog treats and chews and occasionally in maintenance foods.
There is a lot more to answer the question, “What can I do to prevent cancer in my loved dog.” For further reading, see The Dog Cancer Survival Guide. By eliminating the factors leading to cancer, we can decease the numbers of dogs getting cancer.
Dr. Demian Dressler is internationally recognized as “the dog cancer vet” because of his innovations in the field of dog cancer management, and the popularity of his blog here at Dog Cancer Blog. The owner of South Shore Veterinary Care, a full-service veterinary hospital in Maui, Hawaii, Dr. Dressler studied Animal Physiology and received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California at Davis before earning his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University. After practicing at Killewald Animal Hospital in Amherst, New York, he returned to his home state, Hawaii, to practice at the East Honolulu Pet Hospital before heading home to Maui to open his own hospital. Dr. Dressler consults both dog lovers and veterinary professionals, and is sought after as a speaker on topics ranging from the links between lifestyle choices and disease, nutrition and cancer, and animal ethics. His television appearances include “Ask the Vet” segments on local news programs. He is the author of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Avian Veterinarians, the National Animal Supplement Council and CORE (Comparative Orthopedic Research Evaluation). He is also an advisory board member for Pacific Primate Sanctuary.