Helping To Find A Cure For Canine Cancer - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Helping To Find A Cure For Canine Cancer

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We all know genetics can determine whether we are predisposed to certain kinds of cancer, but did you know the same is true for our canine companions? Your dog's breed could make it especially susceptible to certain forms of the disease.\r\n\r\nFor the owner of 10-year-old Babe, a problem with her Wheaton terrier's gums led to a visit with the vet.\r\n\r\n"There was a big swollen red area over one tooth. You couldn't even see one tooth," dog owner Julie Crawford said. "It came back a few days later that it was osteo-sarcoma."\r\n\r\nBabe is now one of millions of canines diagnosed each year with a form of cancer, and is now receiving cutting-edge treatment at the Veterinary Specialty Hospital of San Diego, which could include radiation, chemotherapy or surgery.\r\n\r\n"It's been estimated that cancer is the number one cause of death, disease-related death in older dogs in this country," Dr. Blaise Burke said.\r\n\r\nDoctor Burke specializes in veterinary radiation oncology.\r\n\r\n"I think it's something people don't tend to think about until it affects them," he said.\r\n\r\nFor dog owners, it is sometimes difficult to know whether they are affected. While all dogs are at risk for cancer, that risk increases for certain breeds, including golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, rottweilers, German shepherds and boxers.\r\n\r\n"The earlier you can find it, the better," Dr. Burke said.\r\n\r\nTo find it, owners need to be on the lookout for warning signs in their pets, like abdominal swelling, sudden collapse, loss of appetite or energy, persistent coughing or unusual lumps or bumps.\r\n\r\n"One of the places to look for is on your dog's neck, in front of the shoulders maybe the back of the legs or on the knees," Dr. Burke said.\r\n\r\nAnd to help battle this canine cancer threat, the non-profit Morris Animal Foundation is now raising $30 million over the next decade for research, treatment and a possible cure. It's work that could also help humans.\r\n\r\n"The benefit for us also is that it helps animals, but it can be used to help people and give us ideas as to why cancer happens in people," Dr. Burke said.\r\n\r\nOne proven way to help prevent cancer in female dogs is to have them spayed early in their lives. That cuts down on their risk of mammary cancer. And for all dogs, a regular vet check-up once a year for younger dogs and twice a year for those over 9 is recommended.\r\n
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