Canine cancer risks increase with size and age, study finds | Lifestyles

How big is your dog? Is he or she a pure breed or a mixed breed? How old is your dog? The answers to these three questions could help determine the likelihood of Luna or Leo having cancer, and even the type of cancer they are most susceptible to.

A biostatistical analysis by Nationwide of claims from more than 1.61 million dogs over a six-year period found that when it comes to a diagnosis of cancer, size matters. Large breed and giant breed dogs have a higher relative risk of cancer, and it usually occurs earlier in life, usually between 6 and 7 years of age.

This pattern holds true for both purebred and mixed-breed dogs, according to the data. The retrospective study found a consistent correlation between increased dog size and increased cancer risk across all populations, but purebred populations had a consistently higher risk than mixed breeds of the same size. .

The breeds with the highest relative risk of cancer claim were Boxers, Beagles and Golden Retrievers, while Pomeranians, Chihuahuas and French Bulldogs had the lowest. While the risk of a cancer diagnosis increases with age, being a mixed race, especially short stature, appears to have a protective effect.

“Everything we’ve seen so far suggests that every time you step out of a gene pool, it would appear that in a highly genetic disease process like cancer, you’re diluting the possibility of those genes being mixed together,” says Jules Benson. . , BVSc, MRCVS, lead author of the white paper and chief veterinarian at Nationwide. “There is a genetic element, and there seems to be a size element that is present independent of genetics.”

How was dog size determined? Toys weigh 10 pounds or less; small, 11 to 30 pounds; medium, 31 to 50 pounds; large, 51 to 110 pounds; and extra-large, 111 pounds or more.

What does all this mean for your dog? It provides you with an evidence-based roadmap for keeping tabs on your dog’s health and catching the disease early, when it’s more treatable.

For example, large and extra-large dogs are at increased risk of bone cancer from the age of 6 years. Now is a good time to start paying closer attention to lameness, bumps or bumps in breeds such as Rottweilers, Dobermans and Greyhounds, all prone to osteosarcoma.

Boxers are at high risk for skin cancer, with a lower than average age of 7.6 years at first cancer claim. Signs of skin cancer in dogs include firm, raised warty blemishes; inflamed wounds; or odd-colored lumps or bumps on the lips, mouth, pads, or nail beds.

Regardless of their breed or mix, more frequent home checkups and veterinary checkups are important as dogs age. When they are between 9 and 10 years old, even toy dogs or small mixed-breed dogs, which have the lowest risk, move into the above-average relative risk category for a cancer claim.

For medium, large, or extra-large dogs, start thinking about routine diagnostics from age 8. Nationwide data confirms that lymphoma is a significantly higher risk for middle-aged and medium-sized dogs than for other forms of cancer.

Knowing these types of factual information can help you and your veterinarian decide, for example, when a lameness can be managed with rest and painkillers and when it warrants further investigation with x-rays.

Recognizing signs such as lethargy, decreased appetite, pale gums and a distended abdomen in large or very large dogs aged 6 years or older can help catch cancers such as splenic hemangiosarcomas at a early stage when treatment can prolong a dog’s survival time. or improve the quality of life.

Here’s where to read the study yourself:

How to take care of your pets

Q: We are writing our will, and it has occurred to us that we also need to have guidelines for the care of our pets if we are disabled or deceased. What should we include?

A: You’re smart to think of that. Disasters happen suddenly and unexpectedly. Planning ahead will help ensure your pets get the care they need if you’re not around.

First, choose a primary person and a backup person who are ready to take care of your pets if needed (perhaps you can promise to do the same for them). They should have your house keys and a folder with your pet’s medical records, instructions for regular medications, including where they are and how you get your pet to take them, a copy of your pet’s license , your veterinarian’s name and contact information, pet insurance information if you have it (and you should), and photos and a physical description of your pets.

Make sure your veterinarian knows the care plan and knows the names of the people you have chosen to care for your pets. You can arrange for your vet to run a tab or charge a charge to a credit card you have on file with the clinic in case you are unavailable, with the agreement that you or your estate will pay the bills . Have a card in your wallet indicating that you have pets, how many and what type, and the names and numbers of people to contact to care for them.

In your will, you cannot bequeath money directly to a pet, but you can place a certain amount in a trust to cover the expenses that the guardian will have to pay throughout the life of the animal. Your attorney can help you set this up in the most beneficial way for your pet(s). — Dr. Marty Becker and Mikkel Becker

Do you have a question about pets? Send it to [email protected] or visit


Active people have

active dogs

— If you like to exercise, you are a good candidate to live with a dog. A study published last month in the journal PLOS ONE found that owners’ exercise routines strongly influence their dogs’ exercise levels. More than 3,200 responses were collected from dog lovers in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States. The analysis showed that owners who exercised vigorously were more likely to have a dog that exercised vigorously. Owners who exercised moderately for more than five days per week were more likely to exercise their dogs for 60 to 90, or more than 90 minutes per day.


Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet care experts. Veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker is the founder of the Fear Free organization, co-founder of, and author of many best-selling pet care books. Kim Campbell Thornton is an award-winning journalist and author who has written about animals since 1985. Mikkel Becker is behavioral consultant and lead animal trainer for Fear Free Pets. Dr. Becker can be found at or on Twitter at DrMartyBecker. Kim Campbell Thornton is on and on Twitter at kkcthornton. Mikkel Becker is on and on Twitter at MikkelBecker.