Cancer is the number 1 natural cause of death in older dogs.

The 10 Early Warning Signs of Cancer -From the American Veterinary Medical Association

  • Abnormal swellings that persist or continue to grow
  • Sores that do not heal
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bleeding or discharge from any body opening
  • Offensive odor
  • Difficulty eating or swallowing
  • Hesitation to exercise or loss of stamina
  • Persistent lameness or stiffness
  • Difficulty breathing, urinating, or defecation

The following cancers have been reported in Shiloh Shepherds:

Hemangiosarcoma – An incurable tumor of cells that line blood vessels (endothelial cells). Although dogs of any age and breed are susceptible to hemangiosarcoma, it occurs more commonly in dogs beyond middle age, and in breeds such as Labradors, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherd Dogs, Portuguese Water Dogs, and Skye Terriers, among others. Hemangiosarcoma develops slowly and is essentially painless so clinical signs are usually not evident until the advanced stages when the tumors are resistant to most treatments. Less than 50% of dogs treated with standard-of-care of care for this tumor (surgery and intensive chemotherapy) survive more than six months. Many dogs die from severe internal bleeding before there is an opportunity to institute treatment.

“Hemangiosarcoma in dogs is an aggressive, malignant tumor of blood vessel cells. With the exception of the skin form of hemangiosarcoma, a diagnosis of hemangiosarcoma is serious. Because these tumors start in blood vessels, they are frequently filled with blood and when a blood-filled tumor ruptures, it can cause problems with internal or external bleeding.

Hemangiosarcoma can theoretically arise from any tissue where there are blood vessels, which is essentially anywhere in the body, but usually appear in the skin, soft tissue, spleen or liver with the most common site being the spleen. They are highly metastatic and will frequently spread to the brain, but also to the lungs, spleen, heart, kidneys, skeletal muscle and bone. This type of cancer in dogs is typically classified as dermal, subcutaneous or hypodermal, and visceral.”

  • splenic hemangiosarcoma  – of the spleen
  • atrial hemangiosarcoma – of the heart

Additional resources:

Lymphocytic Leukemia – Canine leukemia, or blood cancer in dogs, can be in many forms. The most common form of dog leukemia is lymphocytic leukemia. Leukemia means “white blood” and, as a disease, refers to a condition where there is an abnormal increase in the number of white blood cells in the bloodstream or the bone marrow. It is a result of genetic mutation that alters the structure of the bone marrow, causing it to over-produce cancerous cells and under-produce other healthy blood cells that a dog needs. There are several forms of canine leukemia and the disease is classified according to the type of cells involved and the developmental stage of the cancerous cells that are causing the disease.

Lymphoma – One of the most common cancers seen in dogs and probably occurring 2 to 5 times as frequently in dogs than in people. Although there are breeds that appear to be at increased risk for this disease, lymphoma can affect any dog of any breed at any age. Most of the time, lymphoma appears as swollen glands (lymph nodes) that can be seen or felt under the neck, in front of the shoulders, or behind the knee. Occasionally, lymphoma can affect lymph nodes that are not visible or palpable from outside the body, such as those inside the chest or in the abdomen. In these cases, dogs may accumulate fluid in the chest that makes breathing difficult, or they may have digestive problems (diarrhea, vomiting, or painful abdomen). Lymphoma is generally considered treatable. Multi-agent chemotherapy consisting of L-asparaginase, vincristine, cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, and prednisone, is the standard-of-care for this disease. However, there are various subtypes of lymphoma that exhibit different behaviors, and some of the more aggressive types are unresponsive to any available treatment.
It is the third most common cancer diagnosed in dogs.

Mammary Cancer – Female dogs are at high risk for developing malignant mammary tumors. Mammary tumors are the most common types of tumors in non-spayed female dogs. While 50 percent of these tumors are malignant, complete surgical removal is sometimes curative if the cancer has not metastasized.

Mesothelioma –  “As in the case of humans, the main cause of this disease is represented by exposure to asbestos. One of the two types of asbestos fibers, amphibole asbestos, is associated with a greater risk of tumor development. Ferruginous bodies abnormal both in type and numbers have been discovered in dogs suffering from mesothelioma. Another possible cause is exposure to certain chemicals such as pentachlorophenol.”

Osteosarcoma – The most common type of primary bone cancer in dogs, accounting for up to 85% of tumors that originate in the skeletal system. Although it is mostly a disease of older large or giant breed dogs, it can affect dogs of any size or age. Osteosarcoma may be found in many areas, but it most commonly affects the bones bordering the shoulder, wrist and knee. The first sign an owner usually sees with this disease is lameness in the affected leg. They may also notice a swelling over the area or their dog may seem painful at the site. The tumors are very aggressive and metastatic, so it is a fair assumption that at the time of diagnosis the disease will have already spread beyond the primary site. For this reason, the standard-of-care for bone cancer includes surgery to remove the primary tumor, followed by chemotherapy to attack the cells that have left the site. In dogs, approximately 50% survive one year with standard-of-care, less than 30% survive 2 years, and less than 10% reach 3 years.

New Vaccine Available for Osteosarcoma “Osteosarcoma (bone cancer) is most commonly seen in large and giant breed dogs. It is an aggressive cancer that frequently affects the long bones and despite limb amputation and chemotherapy many dogs die from the cancer that spreads to their lungs.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine are now evaluating a new vaccine for dogs that have been diagnosed with osteosarcoma. If your dog has recently been diagnosed with bone cancer or is currently undergoing chemotherapy for bone cancer he/she may be eligible for vaccination.

Details of the study including the benefits of enrollment are available at:

{}” —Penn Vet Working Dog Center

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