What Pet Owners Can Expect From Cancer Treatment for Dogs

No dog owner likes to hear that their pet has cancer and needs treatment. However, in some cases, it simply cannot be helped. If your dog has recently received a diagnosis of cancer, you may be wondering what steps to take next. In this article, we will explain the method of treating dogs with cancer and help dog owners understand what to expect.

Different Types of Cancer in Dogs

There are many types of dog cancer, just like in people. Your first action as a pet owner after learning that your dog has cancer is to determine what type it falls under. Dog cancers that are frequently diagnosed are as follows:

  • Lymphoma: A cancer that targets the lymphatic system and is one of the most prevalent types of dog cancer.
  • Mast cell tumors: A type of skin cancer that can occur anywhere in the body.
  • Osteosarcoma: A bone cancer that mostly affects the legs and is usually found in larger dog breeds.
  • Melanoma: An aggressive type of skin cancer that is capable of spreading to other parts of the body, such as the mouth and eyes.
  • Hemangiosarcoma: A blood vessel cancer that can damage organs such as the spleen, liver, and heart.

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Various Ways to Treat Cancer in Dogs

Once you understand the type of cancer you’re dealing with, you must consider oncology treatment options. Your veterinarian or veterinary oncologist will decide how to proceed with your dog’s treatment based on the type of cancer and its unique condition. Here are the three different ways that cancer in dogs is treated.


Surgery may be an option for your dog’s cancer treatment if they have only one tumor or if the cancer is contained in a small area. If the margins around the tumor are clear, many veterinarians will recommend this as the first step in treating dog cancer. In some cases, dog or cat surgery is the only course of treatment recommended, while in others, it comes either before or after chemotherapy or radiation.


Chemotherapy is used to treat cancers of the blood cells, like lymphoma, leukemia, and other highly fatal cancers. Your vet will provide you with a prescription for a set of drugs that kill cancer cells. This treatment for dogs with cancer lasts between six to 12 weeks. You can give chemotherapy medication by mouth at home or through an intravenous drip.


Dogs with cancers where the tumors are too hard to reach by surgery may benefit from this therapy method. When treating your dog’s cancer with radiation, a high dose is directed at the affected area. The effect is to reduce or eliminate cancer cells. Radiation therapy can be given to your dog anywhere from twice to five times weekly. Depending on how advanced your dog’s cancer is, this treatment plan can take as long as six weeks.

Costs Associated with Cancer Treatment for Dogs

Cancer treatment for dogs is expensive, which is not surprising. Your vet may advise a treatment option that may cost pet owners a minimum of $10,000. For instance, a specialist visit to diagnose cancer costs around $1,500. The charge for chemotherapy and radiation therapy treatment can vary from $200 to $6000. It is evident that the expense of treatment is quite significant. Fortunately, affordable pet insurance can help alleviate this concern.

Final Thoughts

Regardless of age or breed, any dog can develop cancer. Despite the emotional toll, pet owners should be on guard for any changes in their animal companions that might indicate cancer. Early detection via regular veterinary examinations dramatically improves treatment and prognosis. Dogs diagnosed with cancer still have hope for a long and fulfilling life with loved ones, provided they receive the best possible treatment.

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