I was talking to one of my clients today in the exam room. She owns an awesome Golden Retriever named Baloo. Like his namesake in the movie “The Jungle Book,” Baloo is happy, friendly, goofy and….chubby.
I started telling Baloo’s owner about the cancer rate in the breed. It is estimated that around 2/3 to 3/4 of all deaths in Goldens are due to cancer. This is the effect of breeding over many generations. Very, very scary stats if you own a Golden Retriever. Lymphosarcoma (a white cell cancer), osteosarcoma (bone cancer), and hemangiosarcoma (usually in the spleen) are common cancers they get, but others are possible too.
So here we have a Golden, one of the big cancer breeds, and he is getting fat. I couldn’t even feel his ribs when I pressed on the side of his chest. His owner told me his brother is 100 lbs…just big boned, you know…
Too much food, not enough exercise…and another cancer risk is created. Most of us know naturally that a lot of body fat is not healthy. But cancer in dogs?? Yep, it increases odds. Turns out that fat cells secrete a substance called adiponectin. Adiponectin has a cancer protective effect. So more fat, more protection, right?? Wrong.
Adiponectin is released only in very small amounts if there is STORAGE of fat, in overweight dogs. When fat is getting BURNED, adiponectin is released. Lean animals secrete more adiponectin than chubby ones.
So the take home message is that exercise and good body condition lower odds of cancer and this applies to dogs. Hate to sound like a broken record, nag nag, but true. So get outside and get your dog’s adiponectin up.
Best to all,
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.