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Featuring Demian Dressler, DVM and Sue Ettinger, DVM, Dip. ACVIM (Oncology), authors of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide

Landmark Study Confirms Cancer is Top Cause of Dog Death

Updated: May 6th, 2019

A study done in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine backs up the fact that canine cancer is now the number one cause of death in dogs.

Data from 74,556 dogs over 20 years (1984-2004) were analyzed. This data was archived for the National Cancer Foundation’s Veterinary Medical Database and then surveyed.  27 veterinary hospitals across the country contributed.

There is no single cause for this.  Certainly, there are breed (genetic) issues at play.  It could be that the age of death is a factor.  However, there is more to this picture.

Diet, lifestyle, and environmental issues are likely culprits.  In immigrants coming into the US, their cancer rates end up matching that of the Americans.  This combines with other research tells us that diet, lifestyle, and environmental issues are major culprits of cancer.

Here is an excerpt from the National Cancer Institute’s SEER program: “Between 1975 and 2003, a number of studies were published…Their conclusions have been remarkably uniform. The studies found that cancer incidence patterns among first-generation immigrants were nearly identical to those of their native country, but through subsequent generations, these patterns evolved to resemble those found in the United States. ”

This tells us that we should pay much more attention to diet, environmental issues, and lifestyle in our dogs.  To learn much more about how to reduce your dog’s risk factors, see The Dog Cancer Survival Guide.


Dr. D


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  1. bena willoughby on May 31, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    My Smokey has bone cancer. It was found a week ago. I asked the vet if there was anything I could have seen…. he said no due to her having a thyroid problem, the blood work would not have raised any questions…… He cancer is in her pelvis within a week she is dragging her foot…… so fast !!!!

  2. Renee Jacques on September 4, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    Dr. Dressler,

    I have a similar situation to Patti. My dog, a Coton de Tulear, is 10 and he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He is having major problems with his urination (has to urinate a lot and is straining) yet everything else is fine. Our doctor said chemotherapy would not be a good option for this type of cancer. Instead, he is on Piroxicam. We have also switched him over to a grain-free, all natural diet and he takes antibiotics, mushrooms, Cat’s Claw, and Apocaps everyday.

    Will his urination problems ever be alleviated? Are we taking the right steps in his treatment?

    Any advice would be GREATLY appreciated!!!


  3. Jayne Cohen on September 3, 2011 at 11:08 am

    Dear DR. Dressler,
    My 4 1/2 y.o Yorkie was JUST diagnosed with Protein Losing Nephropathy and I am devasted. I don’t know where to turn. My vet in NJ is going to map out a diet and plan for Chloe but she has also said that she probably only has a couple of years to live. I’m destroyed. Since I know that this type of kidney failure can lead to cancer, I decided to take my friend’s advice and write to you since she has bought two of your Survival Guides and loves what she is learning; her dog was diagnosed with oral malignant melanoma and literally was doing nothing till she found the hope in your guide.
    CAn you please help me with suggestions, preferably natural ones, for my little Chloe’s PLN? Dare I hope that I can keep her going WITH a good quality of life and even a life extension prognosis? Please help me if you can as I cannot stop crying over this and I have five other Yorkies who need me. Thanks so much, Jayne

  4. Deb Kelly on September 2, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    I purchased your book on Cancer and it has been a great help to my Callie (age eight),who has Stage III Grade III cancer, diagnosed March 2011. She has had six chemotherapy treatments and I continue to feed her holistically. So far she is feeling well with a ravenous appetite. I hope she beats the odds and lives for many more quality years. I would encourage others to take the time to steam vegetables, cook liver only up to 140 degrees, cottage cheese, and fresh berries. Its something we both do together she intently watches me prepare her weekly food, lets just say Friday is her special day! Whatever time I have with her it will be filled with positive quality time. Thanks for your book, worth every penny! Callie thanks you too!

    • DemianDressler on September 6, 2011 at 8:23 pm

      Dear Deb,
      so glad things are going well for you and Callie!
      Keep on!

  5. Anthea Reilly on August 31, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    My beloved chow chow/retriever mix, BEA, lost her battle with malignant canine melanoma on 4 August, 2011. She lived for 8 months after her surgery with no chemo, radiation or melanoma vaccine treatments. She was approximately 10 years old. I had her for the last two years of her life and helped her to lose between 14 – 16 lbs during that time. The Apocaps and much more attention to her diet, plus being on Piroxicam for about 5 months, obviously contributed to Bea’s extra time. The specialists gave her between 2 to 4 months after her surgery in early December, 2010. Had Bea not been so overweight when she came to me and had she been a younger dog, perhaps she might have had a better chance, but at least we had two wonderful years together. Up until mid June of this year, she did remarkably well, even though she had such an aggressive form of cancer. Thank you for all your terrific advice. Anthea

    • DemianDressler on September 6, 2011 at 8:07 pm

      Dear Anthea,
      so sorry to hear about Bea’s passing. I am so glad we were able to help extend her life.

  6. Patti on August 31, 2011 at 5:28 am

    Dr. Dressler,
    I need your help ASAP!!! My 11 year old Westie, Zoe, has had bladder cancer for over a year. She is on Piroxicam 2.5 mg. daily. She also acquired MSRP of the bladder in March which has been treated numberous times with sensitivity antibiotics which has not cleared it up. About a month ago she started panting and breathing hard, I took her to the vet for a CXR which was normal. She continued to pant and be in pain for the next two weeks. I gave her Tramadol 25mg. which does not touch the pain!! She had two weeks where she did not seem to be in much pain and now it has started back. The ultrasound shows the cancer has invaded her urethra. I cannot stand to see her suffer with each urination (byw, she is incontinent) which continues for about 30 minutes until she urinates again. What can I do?? I don’t want her sedated just to relieve the pain or is it time to put her down? I am so lost and confused.
    Patti Lawson

    • DemianDressler on September 6, 2011 at 8:03 pm

      Dear Patti,
      so sorry to hear this news. I wonder if you have read the Guide? There are a slew of steps that could be taken. I would consider diet change, apoptogens, immune stimulants, just to start with basic foundational steps.
      Next, discuss with your vet the use of Neoplasene, along with IV vitamin C combined with vitamin K3. This is rather experimental, but may do some good under these circumstances. I would also consider using a new human protocol as an outside possibility:
      I hope this helps

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