Cancer in the Dog


All dogs, whether mixed breed or purebred, are at risk for developing cancer. CHF is committed to helping dog owners better understand the many treatment options available and the cutting-edge research that is helping our dogs live longer lives. Learn about the most common canine cancers, symptoms, and how your support of canine cancer research gives hope for a cure.

The cancers of greatest concern in the dog include:

  • Hemangiosarcoma
  • Lymphoma
  • Osteosarcoma
  • Mammary Tumors
  • Mast Cell Tumors
  • Melanoma
  • Soft-tissue Sarcoma
  • Hepatic Carcinoma
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma
  • Gastric Cancer
  • Brain Tumors
  • Malignant Histiocytosis
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Transitional Cell Carcinoma

The key to managing cancer is catching it early

Just as with humans, early detection saves lives. While canine cancer can be treated using surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, the best thing you can do is to catch the disease in its early stages — before it spreads. Early detection is critical for successful treatment, recovery and quality of life. This is another reason why annual or semi-annual visit with your veterinarian are so important.

Symptoms that something is wrong

  • Abnormal lumps or swellings that persist or continue to grow
  • Sores that do not heal
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Chronic bleeding or discharge
  • Difficulty eating or swallowing
  • Loss of stamina, reluctance to exercise and play
  • Chronic lameness or stiffness that implies discomfort
  • Difficulty breathing, urinating, or defecating

Research gives hope for a cure

Canine cancer research has been an integral part of CHF’s research portfolio for 20 years. During this time, cancer medicine has evolved significantly, moving from a rather simplistic understanding of tumor biology and tumor progression to a molecularly-based discipline with improved diagnosis and tumor imaging, providing veterinarians with more effective treatment options. The discovery of novel therapeutics aimed at cancer-specific cellular signal transduction pathways has also impacted the field of canine cancer research. This discovery provides researchers with the tools to better target medications for cancer patients, giving them better quality of life.

Our commitment to canine cancer remains strong and during 2015 we are seeking innovative researchers who will aid us in the discovery of advancing diagnostic technology and therapeutic target identification. 

“We recognize that cancer is the leading cause of death for older dogs, with approximately 30% of all dogs more than 7 year of age experience cancer at some point in their lifetime,” said Susan Lilly, CHF chief executive officer.  “As part of our ongoing commitment to understanding and addressing canine cancer, CHF is focused on developing a deeper understanding of the diverse nature of tumors and cancer evolution in the dog. Our goal is to equip veterinarians with tools for faster diagnosis and treatment options that prolong the quality of life and quality of life for our dogs.”

Incidence rates vary by breed and it is thought that the “genetic islands” created by specific breeds may give human oncologists greater insight into the role of genetics in predisposition to cancer. A significant number of neoplastic diseases share numerous traits with human counterparts in terms of tumor biology, dissemination and responsiveness to therapy. These include lymphoma, soft tissue sarcoma, melanoma, mammary tumors, canine bladder cancer and osteosarcoma. Because dogs share our environment, our homes, our lifestyles, and most of our genome, cancer research in the dog provides reciprocal impact on human health.

How to Help

It is through the support of donors like you that we are able to make strides in our understanding of canine cancer. The research you help fund provides our beloved dogs with earlier diagnosis, more treatment options and the chance at a high quality of life post diagnosis. 


CHF online resources

Flint Animal Cancer Center, Colorado State University

Animal Cancer Care and Research, University of MN

Sprecher Institute for Comparative Cancer Research, Cornell University

Comparative Cancer Center, UC Davis


Help Future Generations of Dogs

Participate in canine health research by providing samples or by enrolling in a clinical trial. Samples are needed from healthy dogs and dogs affected by specific diseases.

Learn How to Help

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