Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Canine Cancer Awareness Month & Breed of the Week: Golden Retriever - Kansas City Dog Photography

November is Canine Cancer Awareness month and in honor of sweet Bella the Golden Retriever who has been stricken with Canine Lymphoma, I chose to feature the Golden Retriever this week, along with some important information about Canine Cancer. Below information from

What is Cancer?
Dog cancer, like human cancer, is the uncontrolled growth of cells on or within the body. Although there are many types of cancer, they all start because of out-of-control growth of abnormal cells. Normal body cells grow, divide, and die in an orderly fashion. During the early years of a dog's life, normal cells divide more rapidly until the dog becomes an adult. After that, cells in most parts of the body divide only to replace worn-out or dying cells and to repair injuries. Because cancer cells continue to grow and divide, they are different from normal cells. Instead of dying, they outlive normal cells and continue to form new abnormal cells.

Cancerous tumors can spread to other parts of the body where they begin to grow and replace normal tissue. This process is called metastasis. For example, breast cancer that spreads to the liver is still called breast cancer, not liver cancer. Regardless of where a cancer may spread, however, it is always named for the place it began.Not all tumors are cancerous. Benign (noncancerous) tumors do not spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body and, with very rare exceptions, are not life threatening.Different types of cancer can behave very differently. For example, bone cancer and breast cancer are very different diseases. They grow at different rates and respond to different treatments. That is why dogs with cancer need treatment that is aimed at their particular kind of cancer.Cancer rates increase in dogs with age. It is the leading cause of death in dogs over 10 years.

If cancer is suspected in your dog, a veterinarian may order x-rays, blood tests, ultrasounds. A biopsy (the removal of a piece of tissue) is frequently performed for confirmation that cancer exists and to determine the level of severity from benign to aggressively malignant (called grading).

We do not know how dogs get cancer most of the time. There are many types of cancer and many possible causes of cancer (chemicals in our environment, sun exposure, assorted viruses and infections). There are important genetic factors as well. Feeding your dog a healthy diet and keeping them away from known carcinogens will help. Spaying or neutering your dog will also reduce their risk for developing certain cancers.

Each diagnosis of cancer requires individual care and treatment planning. Conventional treatment may include a combination of treatment therapies such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, cryosurgery (freezing), hyperthermia (heating) or immunotherapy.Complementary and alternative veterinary medicine (CAVM) therapies include acupuncture, behavior modification, homeopathy, herbal medicine, mega-nutrient augmentation therapy, nutritional therapy and chiropractic therapy. Once diagnosed, your veterinarian will discuss the best treatment option(s) for your dog. In some instances, your veterinarian may refer you to a board-certified oncologist (cancer specialist) depending upon the recommended course of treatment. It never hurts to get a second opinion and to research clinical trials for which you dog may be eligible.

Treatment success depends upon the type and extent of the cancer, as well as the aggressiveness of therapy. Some cancers can be cured and almost all patients can be helped to some degree.Another critical point is to understand exactly what is meant when data on efficacy of treatment is presented. Useful terms include:Median - this is used in the context of survival, a median survival of three months means that 50% of the animals are alive at three months, but 50% have died. It does not give you any information of the range of survival of individuals from within the group. For example, individual animals may have survived for only a day to several years. A median survival is very useful to allow comparison between different types of treatment.Survival means just that: how long an animal stayed alive, usually from time of diagnosis, but it could also mean from time of treatment, or from time the owner first noticed signs of a problem. It does not give you any information on what the animal's quality of life was during that time.Progression free survival is the time the animal survived without progression of the clinical signs. This gives you a better idea of the quality of life.

Common Cancer Terms
Cancer: any malignant, cellular tumor; cancers are divided into two broad categories of carcinoma and sarcomas.

Neoplasm: an abnormal new growth of tissue in animals or plants; a tumorTumor: 1.) a swelling; a cardinal sign of inflammation. 2.) neoplasm: a new growth of tissue in which cell multiplication is uncontrolled and progressive.

Benign tumor: one lacking the properties of invasion and metastasis and showing a lesser degree of abnormal cellularity than do malignant tumors. These are usually surrounded by a fibrous capsule.

Malignant tumor: has the properties of invasion and metastasis and displays cells with widely varying characteristicsCarcinoma: a malignant growth made up of epithelial cells tending to infiltrate surrounding tissues and gives rise to metastases.

Sarcoma: a malignant tumor originating from connective tissue or blood or lymphatic tissues.

Metastasize: spread throughout the body, of cancer cells

Growth: can refer to any kind of an abnormal increase in size of tissue

Lump: can be a growth or fluid filled cyst or any structure raising above the normal surface of a tissue plane.

About the Golden Retriever
The Golden Retriever is a sturdy, medium-large sized dog. The skull is broad and the muzzle is straight, tapering slightly with a well defined stop. The nose is black or a brownish black. The teeth meet in a scissors bite. The medium to large eyes are dark brown. The relatively short ears hang down close to the cheeks. When pulled forward the tip of the ear should just cover the eye. The tail is thick at the base with feathering along the underside. Dewclaws may be removed. The water-resistant coat is dense with a firm, straight, or wavy outer coat. There is an untrimmed feathering on the underbelly, back of the legs, front of the neck and underside of the tail. Coat color comes in cream to a rich golden.

These are lovable, well-mannered, intelligent dogs with a great charm. They are easily trained, and always patient and gentle with children. Charming, devoted and self-assured, they are a popular family dog. Energetic and loving, Golden Retrievers enjoy pleasing their masters, so obedience training can be very rewarding. They excel in competitions. Friendly with everyone, including other dogs, the Golden Retriever has very little, if any, guarding instincts. While unlikely to attack, Goldens make good watchdogs, loudly signaling a stranger's approach. This breed needs to be around people who display leadership to be happy. The Golden Retriever may become destructive and/or high-strung, over-exuberant and distractible if he is lacking in daily mental and physical exercise. Be sure to remain this dogs firm, but calm, confident, consistent pack leader to avoid behavioral issues. Some of the Golden's talents are hunting, tracking, retrieving, narcotics detection, agility, competitive obedience, and performing tricks. These dogs also love to swim.

Height, Weight
Height: Dogs 22-24 inches (56-61cm.) Bitches 20-22 inches (51-56cm.)
Weight: Dogs 60-80 pounds (27-36kg.) Bitches 55-70 pounds (25-32kg.)

Health Problems
Prone to cancer, hip dysplasia, Von Willebrand's disease, heart problems and congenital eye defects. Skin allergies are common in Golden Retrievers and often require veterinary attention. Gains weight easily, do not overfeed.

The Golden Retriever needs to be taken on a daily, brisk, long walk, jog or run alongside you when you bicycle, where the dog is made to heel beside or behind the person holding the lead, as instinct tells a dog that the leader leads the way and that leader needs to be the human. In addition, they like to retrieve balls and other toys. Be sure to exercise this dog well to avoid hyper activity.

Life Expectancy
About 10-12 years

The smooth, medium-haired double coat is easy to groom. Comb and brush with a firm bristle brush, paying particular attention to the dense undercoat. Dry shampoo regularly, but bathe only when necessary. This breed is an average shedder.

Originating in the Scottish Highlands in the late 1800s, the Golden Retriever was developed by Lord Tweedmouth, by crossing the original yellow Flat-Coated Retriever, with the now extinct Tweed Water Spaniel. He later crossed in the bloodhound, Irish Setter, and more Tweed Water Spaniel. The dogs were called the Golden Flat-Coat and only later were they given the name Golden Retriever.


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