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postheadericon Did you know that cancer is the leading cause of death in american dogs; 1 in 4 dogs die of cancer here in the united states

Did you know that cancer is the leading cause of death in American dogs; 1 in 4 dogs die of cancer here in the United States. News of your dog’s cancer diagnosis can be as devastating as any other family member’s diagnosis.  First, of course, is the thought of potentially losing your loved one.  Next, you worry about the efficacy – and expense – of the treatment options available.  The good news is that veterinary medicine continues to research canine cancers, both from a treatment and prevention standpoint and great strides are being made on both fronts.  Of course, these treatments (which often involve chemotherapy and radiation) can be costly, which is why a good veterinary pet insurance policy that covers cancer treatments is a wise investment.

One of the most common cancers in American dogs is canine lymphoma (lymphosarcoma.) Fortunately, it is a very treatable canine cancer; roughly 50% of dogs with lymphoma can be put into remission.

Cancer is an immune dysfunction disease, regardless of the species. The lymph system circulates the white blood cells and most importantly, lymphocytes, which are specialized cells involved in immune function found throughout the body. In normal healthy dogs, these cells are manufactured in the bone marrow, with a life span of about one month.  Then, they die off and are re-absorbed into the body or eliminated through waste. With lymphoma, there is an overproduction of these cells, or the “old cells” live on, monopolizing the other blood cells. High white blood cell count and swollen lymph glands are the characteristic signs of this disease, followed by lethargy, loss of appetite and leading eventually to death unless treated.

Chemotherapy is the first line treatment for dog lymphoma, and because lymphoma generally affects young to middle-aged, otherwise healthy dogs, it is well tolerated. Sometimes the effected lymph glands are surgically removed as well. After surgery, some type of chemotherapy drug (again, generally covered by a good pet insurance policy) is usually recommended to clean up any remaining cancer cell not removed by the surgery.

As is the case with any cancer, the earlier the lymphoma is diagnosed the better the outcome.  Just as the human members of the family should have a physical every year, so should your pets…and their annual visits are also covered under most veterinary pet insurance plans, so the early detection of lymphoma is possible!  Treatment success is dependent upon a myriad of factors, including your dog’s age, diet, medical history, the location of the cancer, and how extensive it is and what major systems are involved.

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