Joe Tippens thought he was going to die of small-cell lung cancer, but then a veterinarian told him about something he’d read on the internet: that scientists had discovered that fenbendazole, a dog dewormer that he took for hookworms and roundworms, seemed to work against cancer. It was cheaper than chemo and immunotherapies, and he had three months to live anyway, so he said, why not? It might even help him meet his new grandson.
Most dog cancers arise due to a mutation in a cell. While mutations occur naturally over time in all cells, a mutation is most likely to result in a malignant cell if the cell is exposed to a lot of DNA damaging radiation or chemical agents over a long period of time. This is why it’s important to take a proactive role in your dog’s health care. During regular wellness exams, your veterinarian will check for the presence of cancers and other conditions that can cause harm to your canine companion.
Because of their unique ancestry, dogs are particularly susceptible to different forms of cancer. In fact, selective breeding has produced more than 400 breeds of dogs, with each having its own distinct genetics and a predisposition to certain cancers. For example, lymphoma, a form of cancer that affects the lymphatic and immune systems, is more common in golden retrievers, whereas brain tumors known as glioma are more prevalent in Boston terriers and boxers. Invasive bladder cancer is more likely in scotties, westies, shelties and Shetland sheepdogs while testicular cancer, a rare form of cancer that affects the prostate gland, is more prevalent in unneutered males or those with retained testes.
As researchers learn more about the genes that contribute to dog cancers, they can develop treatment strategies that address the root causes of these diseases. One such approach involves identifying the genes mutated in a particular cancer, such as hemangiosarcoma, which is an incurable tumor that occurs in the cells that line blood vessels. Mutations in these cells are found most frequently in large sport breeds such as German shepherds and Great Danes, although dogs of all ages can be affected.
To identify a dog’s risk for developing this aggressive cancer, owners should watch out for any unusual signs of bleeding or infection in the skin or bones. Other signs of cancer include abnormalities in the way your pet eats, drinks or urinates, any unusual behavior changes and emotional changes that are out of character for your dog. If you notice any of these signs, please schedule an appointment with your veterinary team immediately so they can diagnose and treat the cancer before it has a chance to spread. dog dewormer for cancer