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Dog Care: Intestinal Cancer Explained

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Like humans, dogs can develop different types of cancer. Intestinal cancer tends to be more prevalent in older dogs, but it can develop in any dog. This type of cancer causes tumours to form along the lining of a dog's intestines. The cause of intestinal cancer in dogs is still being explored, but there may be genetic and environmental risk factors that make some dogs more likely to develop this type of cancer.

Symptoms Of Intestinal Cancer

Dogs with intestinal cancer tend to present as very ill. It's common for them to experience vomiting and diarrhoea, and blood may be present in their bodily fluids. Other symptoms of intestinal cancer include rapid weight loss, lethargy and abdominal pain, which may make your dog irritable and socially withdrawn. Without prompt treatment, your dog can become dehydrated and anaemic, which can put them at risk of organ damage.

Diagnosing And Treating Intestinal Cancer

In order to diagnose your dog, your vet will take a detailed account of their symptoms and carry out a range of tests. Blood and faeces samples will be analysed for the presence of infections and will allow your vet to determine if your dog's inflammatory markers are raised. An endoscopy may be required to confirm the presence of tumours and pinpoint their exact location in your dog's intestines. This involves your vet inserting a tube into your dog's intestines through their mouth, and in addition to being able to confirm the presence of tumours, biopsies can be taken to confirm the tumours are cancerous.

Surgical removal of the tumours is the main treatment approach for this type of cancer. Any sections of intestine that have a tumour attached will be removed and the healthy intestinal tissue will be re-joined with dissolvable sutures. In some cases, your vet may recommend a course of chemotherapy after surgery. This may be required if there are concerns that cancerous cells have spread into surrounding tissue.

Your dog will require several weeks of rest and recovery after having surgery, so keep them away from other pets and try to keep them calm when they return home. Your vet may recommend some dietary changes to help them with their recovery, and you should look out for signs of post-surgical complications, such as bleeding or inflammation at the site of their abdominal wound.

As is the case with many illnesses, prompt treatment can improve your dog's chance of making a full recovery and prevent unnecessary suffering. So, if your dog is experiencing symptoms that could be indicative of intestinal cancer, get them booked in with your vet as soon as possible. For more information, contact a vet near you.