What to Expect When Your Dog Has Cancer

Dog owners have a new community-building resource for diagnosing cancer in dogs and guiding dog cancer treatment decisions.

By Lauren Katims

My dog has cancer – what next?

Finding support and trusted medical resources are the first steps when your dog has been diagnosed with cancer. A new database called Canine Cancer: Take C.H.A.R.G.E. (Canine Health and Registry Exchange) is a collection of incidence, prevalence and emotional-support information taken directly from dog owners and vets based on personal experience with canine cancer.

The database, overseen by eight leading veterinarians who specialize in canine oncology and surgery, is open to the public and the first-of-its-kind resource that will help guide canine cancer diagnosis and treatment decisions from incidence rates reported on a large scale.

How common is cancer in dogs?

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, approximately 1 in 4 dogs will, at some stage in their life, develop a tumor, and almost 50 percent of dogs over age 10 will develop cancer.

A multi-year Gallup survey of U.S. dog owners and a retrospective review of more than 35,000 anonymous canine patient records found that the percent of U.S. dogs newly diagnosed with cancer in 2021 was 2.8 percent — approximately five times the 0.57 percent incidence of newly diagnosed cancer in humans that year.

The survey also revealed that when a dog is diagnosed with cancer, the owner often suffers from depression and anxiety. But, if the owner is able to manage his dog’s cancer treatment side effects well, such as pain, urinary incontinence and diarrhea, his well-being improves.  

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