Dogs Get Breast Cancer Too; 3x as Likely as Women

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Sporting her Favorite Save the Tatas Bikini

Sporting her Favorite Save the Tatas Bikini

In honor or October being breast cancer awareness month; I see football players with hot pink socks, gloves, wrist bands and ribbons that dawn their helmets.

It is sad it is estimated that 40,000 women will die of breast cancer this year, according to statistics provided by breastcancer.org and that number doesn’t take into account the fighters and those that defeat breast cancer.  Thankfully the number has decreased since 1989 with the introduction of new treatments.

I have a friend who was diagnosed around Christmas of last year, and she is still kicking butt!  Wearing a wig and having bad days but still kicking butt.  I fear for her 8 year old daughter and her new husband and send them only the best.

I can’t imagine having to deal with that.

There are even famous celebrities that have their breasts removed because breast cancer runs in the family.  Seems aggressive, I suppose, but the truth is I would probably have it done to if it would safe my life.

What About Your Dog

People don’t realize that dogs get breast cancer too!

Why don’t we hear about it more often you ask?

Well, because MOST people SPAY their dogs and this in and of itself keeps their dog from developing breast or mammary cancer.   It’s called mammary cancer in animals.

Female dogs have 10 mammary glands 5 on each side starting at the chest and extending to the groin, with the largest gland being located near the groin.

Love this Photo thanks Logo Design

Love this Photo thanks Logo Design

Let’s Get Serious

Mammary gland tumors are the most common tumors in dogs.

In fact among UNSPAYED females the risk of a mammary tumor is 26%.  Click here for the article in Pet MD

That is 3 Times…. THREE TIMES the Risk in Women

Let that sink in…. 3X the risk of breast cancer for women if you leave your female dog unspayed.

The reason we don’t see furry pink socks on professional football players is because what happens to a dog with mammary cancer is euthanasia.

Most mammary cancer appears anywhere from 6 to 10 years in intact females.

Interestingly according to PetMD the risk is more predominant in sporting breeds (my guess is because these dogs are more likely to be kept in tact longer.

Primary Sign

The primary sign is a painless lump near the largest gland, by the groin. The mass may be large or small and some can move freely in the skill while others are immobile.

Inflammatory cancer is rapidly progressing and spreads through the chain of mammary glands into the surrounding skin and fat.

Death is inevitable in a matter of weeks. Malignant tumors spread widely to the lymph nodes and the lungs.

A complete mastectomy of all 10 or 5 mammary glands may buy some time before the cancer invades more space.

On a Personal Note

I was a vet tech when I witnessed my first dog with “breast cancer” she was the sweetest Alaskan Husky who had born many litters.  All of her mammary glands needed removal.  They were all hard and oozing so we removed them all and got the cleanest margins that we could going into muscle.   Within 3 weeks she had died.

Two years later we saw one of her puppies with the same condition.  It was heartbreaking because we knew what the outcome would be.

No matter how hard they tried to save her at 6 years old, there was no chance.  6 years old… that is only 2 years away for my bitch if I had not spayed her.

I try to stay abreast of all the newest veterinary information.

However all this new information coming out about keeping dogs intact and not spaying and neutering scares me.

Thanks GSD help for the photo to illustrate what it can look like

Thanks GSD help for the photo to illustrate what it can look like

If you Spay Before the First Heat Cycle you Nearly Negate The Chance of Doggy Breast Cancer?

That may not get as much press as those who want their dogs to have more hormones for longer.

So few dogs need those added hormones, and so many have done so well for decades being spayed and neutered early.

But having watches many dogs suffer and ultimately die.

I know my females will be spayed early so that I don’t have to worry about that 26% chance (greater than a woman getting breast cancer) of my dog developing mammary cancer.

I give her a better and longer chance at life!

Please spay and neuter!

There are 22 Comments

  1. Rachel Hart says:

    I have heard that allowing a dog to have a single litter before spaying is supposed to better for her, but I have NEVER seen any veterinarians agree with that. I ALWAYS spay (and neuter) my pets as soon as they are of adequate weight and age (usually about 3 months old. Even if it were shown to be better for dogs to have one litter of pups, I would still not do it, because I can not ever justify putting more precious dogs in this world when there are so many already here literally dying for a home. Thank you for the information. I’m so glad you are spreading the word.

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    Minette Reply:

    That is a myth, just like mothers wanting to breed their dogs so their children can witness birth… just sad so many dogs have to die as a result :/

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  2. Pamela Kutscher says:

    What a wonderful article–and I LOVE the pictures–very clever, and cute!

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  3. My first lovely wonderful dog Tuppence had breast cancer in the early 1970’s I wanted her to have puppies so I never got her fixed (we tried, but she never conceived). At ten years old she got breast cancer. First she had two breast removed, then later she had all of them removed. She was on Experimental Chemo and got kidney failure from the drug and died at the New York Animal Center. I still mourn for her. BUT my next 3 dogs got fixed very early and lived long lives 15-18 years old.

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  4. Kim Smith says:

    My vet recommended that we spay our yellow lab after she had her first heat. She explained that there would be fewer health issues in large breed dogs if spaying was delayed. So we had her spayed at about 13 months old.

    Is she more at risk for breast cancer now because we waited to have her spayed???

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  5. Patsy Hollister says:

    Our beloved Brittany, Zoe, was diagnosed with mammarian cancer in May of 2012, discovered while lifting her off the surgical table following a routine dental cleaning. A follow up MRI showed both bladder cancer and a vaginal mass as well.
    Surgery removed the mammarian tumors and chemo knocked the other cancers back for a few months until it began to affect her kidneys. She continued to be alert and eat well and was comfortable and interactive until a few days after her 13th birthday in April 2013 when she suddenly declined noticeably. We held her as she was euthanized.
    Zoe HAD been an early spay, but nonetheless was a victim. Early spay doesn’t save them all, but it can help. Don’t delay.
    I also STRONGLY recommend against giving dogs compressed rawhide made in Asia (Thailand and China are primary producers). They use heavy metals in the processing. As a puppy Zoe was a chewer and we gave her these, because they were safer than regular rawhide chews that can choke dogs. We are convinced they were a factor in her cancers.

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  6. Alex McQueen says:

    Write aboout prostate Cancer of Intact Males

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I probably will as I believe in neutering males as well; I usually just tackle one subject at a time so this will allow me another place to discuss it.

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  7. Claudia says:

    Minette–

    I enjoy your blog and usually agree with you on about everything, but on this subject I wish you would do a little more research. I know that what you stated in this article is the ‘party line’ of most US vets, especially in the past. However, recent research is indicating that spaying or neutering actually increases a dog’s chance of cancer and other diseases, especially the way it is performed almost exclusively in the US (gonadectomy).

    If you are interested and look, I’m sure you will find many more.

    With respect,
    –Claudia

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I am not a believer after weighing the risks and benefits of spay neuter.

    I had a young neutered dog die of bone cancer, and I had a young dog that had been showed and kept in tact for several years also die of bone cancer at about the same age.

    I deal with so many dogs thrown away and discarded when a spay or neuter would have helped the animal not develop certain problems.

    I suppose it is all about what you decide is right, but I have seen dogs with mammary cancer and prostate cancer and I am a believer in spay and neuter to reduce and almost alleviate the chance of those cancers.

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  8. Maggie Monroe says:

    We just got a 1 1/2 yr old female from the animal shelter. She had 4 several-week-old pups on her when she arrived there, and they were taken away immediately and she was spayed. What are her chances of mammary cancer now?

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Your vet is more likely to give you a better answer because some breeds or more apt to suffer from cancer.

    However spaying young even after a heat cycle or litter still reduces the risk.

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  9. Bezy says:

    I had a gyp who had had a litter. Later, she developed a tumor beside the udder. It grew or filled quite large. I took DMSO in my palm and rubbed and rubbed until it was quite hot. It finally ruptured and filled my palm with gosh awful puss and blood. I filled my palm again with the DMSO and rubbed until it no longer put any of the mess out. She continued to live for several years and never had another. I now have a lab mix that was spayed before her first heat because her mother had had dedometic mange. She is now 12 and I have had 2 removed by my vet. She now has several more developing. So much for spaying before their first heat cycle.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    What you are describing is a cyst on your first dog. Most lumps will not rupture on their own and it can be dangerous to squeeze a cancerous lump like a mast cell tumor and you can’t tell what is what until they are removed and observed under a microscope.

    Spaying reduces the chance of mammary cancer…. but it cannot reduce the incidents of basic cancerous lumps.

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  10. Super article and fun pictures.
    I have an American Staffordshire pal who didn’t get her subtotal hysterectomy until five years of age. Her mammary glands have still not receded. Am I correct in assuming she is still at risk for mammary cancer?
    You don’t happen to have a diagram of how her human parent can check for tumors? It’s nice to have a hand out for such situations.

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  11. Wendy Smith says:

    The first dog I ever had (possibly shepherd mixed with fox terrier) died from mammary gland cancer at the age of 11. I didn’t know a lot about dogs when I got her and didn’t have her spayed. I have had 4 female dogs since then and all have been spayed. Although my two adopted strays did die from cancer, it wasn’t mammary gland cancer and one of them reached the age of 13 or 14. The two mini poodles I have now were spayed before their first heat. I would hate to lose them for something I could have prevented.

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  12. Lisa G. says:

    I had a Lab. Retriever she was 8 yrs.old and died due to Cancer. So, yes dogs do get cancer. So was my baby girl . It was the hardest thing that I had to go though. I had to put her down to rest last year. She was my daughter. I miss her so much. She was one of a kind. I love it that I have her son …..She was fixed at 4 yrs old.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    spaying late increases risk, however dogs can suffer from cancer as cancer comes in so many forms.

    I have heard that turmeric a spice can help; however I don’t think anything can stop ALL cancers.

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  13. Susan says:

    My vet and others have said that if I wait til after my pup’s first heat – Doberman now 5 months – she will developmentally be better, physically and mentally. Your thoughts??

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Each vet is different, and that is not the information I know and choose to go with; unless I have a dog who I am going to compete with to a HIGH level, I recommend spaying early to alleviate mammary cancer.

    [Reply]

  14. Arundi says:

    I am a girl in Sri Lannka, and the public knowledge about the pets’ health is not satisfactory.Most of the people spay their cats and dogs just as they can’t afford to have more.
    Still the quality of the surgery is really low.
    This is the first time I got a dog as a pet and I don’t know much about spaying and neutering dogs. But we had a large brood of cats and some of the females were spayed. I must sadly admit that the outcomes was bad most of the times.The slimmest became the fattest,the most active of them became champion sleepers and stopped mousing.
    I don’t know much about breast cancers,but in our country doctors say that women who haven’t given birth or haven’t breast fed and those who have given birth to too much (more than 4)and those who gave birth after 35 have a higher risk.
    I would like to have just one litter of little ones like her before spaying her.
    WHAT IS THE SUITABLE AGE FOR A DOG TO BE A MUM?

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    2 and they should be health checked and xrayed for hips and eye certification prior to breeding.

    It is safest to spay

    [Reply]

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