See Part I
In the second part of our three part series on dogs and cancer, Shantel McCook discusses the different types of cancer and treatment options:

Types of Cancer

The wait is over on the diagnostic tests, and yes it confirms our worst fear for our dog: definitive diagnosis is CANCER. These tests will also tell us what type and grade of cancer our pet has.  There are many types of cancer, but according to Veterinary Oncologists, some of the most common types are:

  • Lymphoma represents 20 percent of all canine cancers, encompassing four main types. Currently, dogs are 2-5 times more likely than people to develop lymphoma. This tumor can affect any breed of dog at any age. Some breeds, such as the Golden Retriever, are more likely to be affected, indicating a likely genetic component to the development of lymphoma.





  • Hemangiosarcoma is a tumor that develops from cells that line blood vessels (endothelial cells). This tumor most commonly affects middle-aged or older dogs of any breed. There is an increased frequency of occurrences in in Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds and Rottweilers. Hemangiosarcoma develops slowly over time and is not painful to the dog. The organ most frequently affected is the spleen, which can cause extreme blood loss, with the dog showing signs of shock such as sudden weakness, pale gums, and labored breathing. This tumor also frequently affects the heart, liver and skin.
  • Osteosarcoma is the most common type of primary bone tumor in the dog. It most frequently affects the long bones in front and rear limbs of the dog, but can be found in any bone including the skull or spinal column, which are more rarely seen. This tumor is usually associated with the large and giant dog breeds, and are most commonly diagnosed in dogs between 2 to 8 years of age. Males are slightly more at risk than females for developing this form of cancer.
  • Mast cells are immune cells found throughout the body that play an important role in allergic reactions. Most mast cell tumors are found on the skin and may be detected by a sudden swelling or growth. Boxers and bulldogs are more frequently diagnosed with Mast Cell Tumors compared to other breeds. Mast cell tumors account for about 20% of skin tumors.

mast cell

mast cell



  • Melanoma is a tumor made of pigmented or dark skin cells that can be found anywhere on the dog’s body. Any dog can be affected, but dogs with dark skin or hair coats, such as the Scottish Terrier or Doberman Pinscher, are more frequently diagnosed. Melanomas behave differently depending on what part of the body they are found.

    ocular melanoma

    Ocular Melanoma

  • Soft Tissue Sarcoma is a tumor of fibrous tissue, fat, smooth muscle nerves and lymphatic vessels. Soft tissue sarcomas comprise 15% of all skin/subcutaneous (under the skin) tumors. These tumors are typically very invasive to the surrounding tissue but generally have a low risk of spreading.


Armed with this information, what do we do?  There can be many options and ways to look at treating cancer, but the single most important thing to keep in mind is that you, as the owner, know your dog the best, you want what will be the best option for them with the best quality of life and support, and you are the advocate for your pet.  Keeping that in mind with that “full spectrum” approach will help you feel confident and comfortable that you are making the best decisions for your pet family.

When the time comes to discuss treatment options, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. There are many treatment options out there and your decision on how to best treat your pet may be based upon the grade, stage and type of cancer they have, and what is available in your area. Let’s take a quick look at some of these options, both a conventional and alternative, to help you understand your options for a balanced approach.

  • Surgery at one time was the only form of treatment for cancer. The goal of surgery is to completely remove a solid tumor. In cases where those solid tumors are localized to a particular organ or site, surgery may be curative. Depending on the tumor type, surgery may be combined with other treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation to target any residual cells left by surgical removal.


  • Limb Sparing is a surgical procedure that provides an alternative to amputation in selected dogs being treated forbone tumors. The idea of preserving a limb in dogs is not new, but it is only recently that advances in medical technology have made this procedure possible. The goal in limb sparing is to remove the diseased bone and surrounding tissues while still preserving the function of the remaining limb. The piece of diseased bone that is removed is replaced by a combination of healthy bone from a donor and bone graft from other parts of the patient’s body (see the work being done by the Clinical Oncology Service Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania).


  • Immunotherapy is the use of the body’s immune system to treat a disease. Immunotherapy is most effective in treating certain cancers such as melanoma, hemangiosarcoma, and lymphoma, among others. There are various types of immunotherapy, ranging from vaccines to injecting cytokines (chemicals that stimulate the body’s own immune system). One advantage of immunotherapy is that it is generally less toxic then chemotherapy.


  • Chemotherapy is used to treat cancer at the tumor site, as well as the cancer that may have spread to other parts of the body. Most chemotherapeutic drugs act directly on the cancer cells, preventing them from maturing or reproducing. And unlike humans, the side effects of chemo in pets is relatively mild. The goal with chemo is to slow down the growth of cancer cells, while producing minimal effects on normal cells.


  • Radiation Therapy is often used in conjunction with surgery or chemotherapy. Radiation therapy is a conventional medical treatment that sends high-energy particles into tumors. These particles interact with the atoms in the DNA of the cancer cells and destroy them. This, in turn, destroys the cancer cells.  Radiation also kills healthy cellsthat fall in its path, such as those in the skin, which can also be harmed. A dog must be under general anesthesia to receive radiation therapy and may require multiple treatment sessions.


  • Cryotherapy is a technique that uses extremely cold temperatures produced by liquid nitrogen to kill the abnormal cells. Usually used to treat relatively small, external tumors such as those on the skin, a local sedation or general anesthesia maybe required.


  • Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) is a treatment that uses a drug called a photosensitizer with a specific type of light to kill cancer cells. The agent is absorbed by normal cells as well as cancer cells, but stays in cancer cells longer. The tumor is exposed to light after a period of time. The photosensitizer in the tumor absorbs the light and produces an active form of oxygen that destroys the tumor cells. The light needed to activate most photosensitizers is unable to pass through tissue thicker than 1 cm. For this reason, PDT is usually used to treat tumors of the skin or on the lining of internal organ or cavities. PDT is less effective on large tumors, because the light cannot pass very far into the mass. PDT is used for localized tumors and cannot be used to treat metastatic cancer.


  • Acupuncture treatments are generally given as an adjunct to support western cancer treatments. Acupuncture can reduce the side effects of chemo and radiation. Acupuncture also increases blood circulation to the cells that need to get blood. There is some thought that acupuncture can help to pull blood away from cancer cells and give it to
    dog acupuncture


    the parts that need it. Often times with cancer, the body ends up without enough nutrients and energy because the cancer takes it all, and acupuncture is believed to help reverse this.

  • Herbal Medicine is the use of botanical remedies. Herbal healing is considered by many to be the oldest form of medicine and has been used by all races, religions, and cultures throughout the world. While most western conventional drugs have one or two specific actions, an individual herb can display multiple actions within the body. When properly administered, herbal medicines generally have far fewer side effects than pharmaceutical drugs.
    Herbal medicine is very beneficial in the treatment of cancer. One of the most appropriate and effective uses of herbs is to help reestablish an underlying balance and general state of health of the patient after the patient has been rendered “cancer-free” with conventional therapies. Herbs may also be used as an adjunct to ongoing conventional cancer therapies to offset the side effects of radiation and chemotherapy, enhance the patient’s immune system and aid in tumor reduction itself.
  • Food Therapy/Nutrition This can be a big part of the complete treatment of cancer in your dog. There are many different “Cancer Diets” out there and a lot of different beliefs in this area regarding raw vs kibble vs home cooked, more protein, less protein etc.


In part 3 of our cancer blog we are going to focus on the question of what kind of nutritional needs your dog may have while going through some of the above palliative treatments or when just keeping him comfortable as long as you can. I strongly believe that some of the nutritional changes I made in my dog McCain’s diet after I found out he had tumors on his liver and spleen gave him a better quality of life and helped him to survive with cancer for many years.  So check back!

See Part I

The REAL Reason Your Food is NOT SAFE – by Nicole Lindsley

A person is wrapped up in red ribbon with the words Red Tape rep
The word “recall” sends the average American into a panic checking lot codes and best buy dates on everything from spinach to peanut butter. Here is the secret, the scary thing about a recall is not the Salmonella and here is why:

For the majority of my career life I worked in IT as a project manager; a field that is far from government-regulated. It is probably safe to say that it is self-regulated, where the risk of compromising a customer’s personal information is the driving factor for extensive security measures and strict programing methodology. In the second phase of my career I have entered the pet food industry; it is a far cry from technology in many ways, not least of which is the ways in which it is regulated.

When I started with Steve’s Real Food I was a liberal Obama supporter whose perception of the government was positive and filled with excitement; something that was not felt my many Americans back in 2010. Now, after five years of navigating the muddy waters of federal, state and industry regulations, my stance on government has shifted. I am not anti-government, but have found that between the corporate influence and the naïveté that is a result of mass group thought, not only is it nearly impossible to make change happen, but the change that is attempted is based on archaic information, making it hard to keep up with the speed of reality. The result is that the majority of the consumer population is misinformed, and in turn, given a false since of security.


One of the biggest misunderstandings about food safety is the Food Safety Modernization Act. Modernizing the food system to ensure that there is not bacteria in our peanut butter sounds like a good idea. However, relying on a large governing body who requires billions of dollars to make small changes is, in my opinion, not the solution.
In 2011 Obama signed into law the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which gave the FDA the ability to proactively test food for bacteria and then require “voluntary ” recalls by the manufactures when pathogens were found. In theory this is a good idea; however, there are two major issues.

The first issue is that in their attempt to protect the consumer, they miss the real source of the problem and cause irreparable damage to companies that are not at fault for the problem. If you want to stop bacteria from being in our food (raw pet food in particular), then you need to go to the source – the suppliers of raw material.

The bacteria starts at that point, and it would make sense to improve processes to keep the bacteria out of the food source in the first place, rather than adding processes to sanitize the food after the issue exists. This leads to regulations that over process food and depletes it of important nutrients. Better to keep bad bacteria from reaching unsafe levels to begin with, but there lies another problem surrounding the whole concept of “unsafe levels.” Which brings me to my next point – overly sensitive tests.The second issue with FSMA is that the testing is extremely sensitive and will have a positive test result even with minute amounts of bacterial contamination. Before you get defensive and start commenting that you want zero amount of bacteria in your food, let’s remember that there are over 1 billion microbes in a gram of soil. Bacteria is all around us and it is in our food in many different forms. We have identified specific types which will make us sick, but the level of sickness is more dependent on the health of our immune system rather than the amount of harmful pathogens we are exposed to.The FDA’s hyper-sensitive tests can test a sample of food twice and get two different results. This means that there is a possibility that some of the recalls that go into effect may be unnecessary, especially when we are talking about raw pet food. In addition, the levels that are required for industry standards vary widely – with raw pet food, we are held to incredibly strict standards of bacteria levels in our testing results. Yet have you noticed the number of listeria recalls lately? An employee of Avure HPP foods, Dr. Errol Raghubeer, said off the cuff in a conference presentation in 2013 that in his opinion, a company that met the minimum USDA standards of listeria in their factories shouldn’t be in business because those levels were ridiculously lax.


Now let’s talk about the logistics of the Food Safety Modernization Act. As with most government run initiatives it is very expensive and yet can’t get much done. Prior to the bill going into law the FDA requested $583 million which was planned to cover expenses from 2011 to 2015. By the end of 2011 the FDA reported that they will need an additional 400-450 million.

At a state budget hearing in March of this year, Commissioner Margret Hamburg stated “Significant funding gaps still loom”, and that “A shortfall in funding will undermine Congress’ intent to transform our country’s food safety program.” Without the proper funding the FDA will not be able to properly train inspectors or hire enough inspectors to provide proper oversight, which will result in fragmented implementation.

The most upsetting part about all this is that last year in an American population of 319,000,000, there were 380 deaths due to salmonella; compare that to 611,105 deaths due to heart disease and 75,578 due to diabetes. Salmonella is certainly good fodder for news program’s ratings, but is it worth spending over a billion dollars on when that money could be used so someone on food stamps could afford to buy whole foods instead of mac and cheese or on a national educational program on the importance of a healthy gut? If we put the dollars where the problems were – on overly processed, nutritionally depleted junk food and an ignorant public – we would see a safer, healthier American public.



Now to the truly scary part. While spending tax dollars inefficiently is enough to frustrate anyone, what truly makes me angry is how this overregulation and government inefficiency makes us not just mentally, but physically sick. It is true. The “cleaner” our food, the worse off we are – something that is directly fueled by overregulation.
In the raw pet food sector, the best way to save a company from a costly recall that loses us customers is to implement a “kill” step in the manufacturing process. There are two highly effective options – Irradiation or High Pressure

Processing (HPP).Irradiation is the process of using ionizing radiation to attack bacteria by breaking chemical bonds in molecules that are vital for cell growth. It does not result in radioactive food, but it does increase the free radicals and has shown to reduce nutritional values of food in the same way that cooking does.High Pressure Processing (HPP) is another sterilization process where you put food in a plastic bag, submerge it in a vat of water and apply 50,000 pounds of pressure. This not only will kill off bacteria (good and bad) but also enzymes. An abundance of enzymes in raw pet food is the very reason we feed raw pet food.As you can see both option result in a product that has similar molecular makeup of cooked foods. This process is being used on meats, produce, juice and many other ingredients that we assume to be raw when we purchase them. Both irradiation and HPP does not have to be indicated on the package leaving the consumer misinformed as to what they are eating. Currently Suja, a “raw” juice company, is facing a lawsuit over whether using HPP negates their claim to be raw. If HPP leaves the term ‘raw’ up for debate in juice, then you may want to look at your bag of raw pet food to see if it is truly what it says it is.

If Americans keep pushing for a sanitized food system we will end up with enzyme and probiotic-deficient raw food. We will slowly see our immune systems deteriorate, leading to disease at younger and younger ages. Enzymes disorders will leave our vital organs struggling to function and our overall health will diminish.

The answer to food safety is a combination of buying local to get cleaner foods, eating fewer processed foods to improve overall health, and handling your food properly. If we do this we may not only reduce the 380 deaths caused by salmonella, but more statistically significant, the 686,000 due to diabetes and heart disease combined.


Sylvia, D. (author), Fuhrmann, J. (Author), Hartel, P. (Author), Zuberer, D. (Author). Principals and Applications of Soil Microbilogy (2nd ed., p. 672). Prentice Hall.


An Introduction to GMO’s and Dog Food


detailed illustration of a blackboard with GMO Term Explanation,


If you are the type of person who is feeding (or considering feeding) raw pet food, you probably are already conscious of the effect nutrition can have on your pet.  Nutrition is the foundation of why raw diets work – raw food is unspoiled by processing and heat, allowing it to retain as many nutrients as possible in an easy-to-digest way for your pet.  So it will probably come as no surprise to you that common sense and the international scientific community agree that keeping your food as close to nature as possible is kind of a good idea.



That means using food that comes from the earth and not a laboratory.  One of the growing outrages of the American public at the moment is the powerful lobby that pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies hold over our government, allowing them to control what we eat, and worse – our right to know what is in the food available to us.  Why do I say worse? Because knowledge is the key to voting with your pocketbook, which is the one thing large corporations will listen to. And without the right to know whether your food is laden with chemicals, pesticides, and GMO’s, you are incapable of showing them with your dollar where your opinions lie.

With dog food this is no different.  If you are currently feeding a kibble and thinking of switching to raw, the information you learn from raw food advocates may come across as scare tactics designed to convince you to buy a product. Unfortunately, we don’t need to put a spin on it to convince you to switch. The facts themselves are scary enough, and the reality is that big box stores sell cheap pet food that is full of chemicals, animal byproducts (including kill-shelter cats and dogs), skunks and raccoons, GMO corn and soy, and renderings unfit for human consumption. They have enough nutrition to sustain life, but evidence shows that, like humans, full bellies can belong to nutritionally starving pets.





gmo potatoGMO’s are a big part of the problem, and knowledge is the key to the solution.  So what are GMO’s, and why should you care about avoiding them?

According to Wikipedia, “A genetically modified organism (GMO) is any organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques.”  According to the US Department of Agriculture, by 2012 88% of corn grown in the USA and 94% of soy was genetically modified.  The majority of these crops are designed and owned by Monsanto, the biochemical giant, and have been genetically altered to grow bigger, faster, and to be “Roundup-Ready”, meaning that they can resist the pesticide produced by Monsanto that would kill any other plant living – a pesticide that is, among other things, rapidly depopulating the earth of a non-resistant and crucial part of the eco-system: honeybees.









Igmocornf this doesn’t worry you, maybe it should.  Corn is the number one ingredient in kibble, (and in many human foods), because it is heavily subsidized by the US government and so can be grown cheaply by farmers.  Yet as prevalent as it is in our food, the largest buyers of corn in the US are not food manufacturers, but large-scale meat companies that feed their animals an unnatural, corn-based diet, which their bodies were never designed to eat.  This translates into a decrease of nutritional value in the meats you and your dog eat.  Nutritionally deficient cows = nutritionally deficient meat.  The rise of chronic disease, cancer, infertility, anxiety/depression, ADHD, obesity, and many more diseases can be linked back to nutritional deficiencies and hormonal imbalances that come from eating cheap foods manufactured with an eye on the dollar and not on public health.






Does it get worse?  Of course it does.  It is scary that GMO’s were never fully studied for safety in human or pet food.  The FDA accepted short term studies funded by companies with a vested interest in producing GMO’s – studies that showed no negative effect. These studies were not peer-reviewed by disinterested parties at the time, and current third party studies and longer term studies are beginning to show links to kidney damage, shorter life spans, infertility, mammary tumors, and more. Articles that claim this isn’t true cite ‘long-term studies’ – of 90 days up to 2 years. This is hardly adequate to judge the effects of 90+ years of consumption in the average human.  Oh, wait – obesity and chronic diseases means that our kids are the first generation in centuries expected to live shorter lives than their parents, so let’s knock that number down to 75.  That is just in humans. Those two year studies can’t even give us adequate results for our pets’ lifespan of 10-15 years. In essence, GMO’s are considered safe by the FDA despite the lack of research, and are not regulated any differently than natural foods.  Click on the photo below to get an idea of why this might be…


If the government will not step in, it is up to the general public to defend itself against these attacks on our health. The good news is people are stepping up and the movement is growing.  The Non-GMO project, the increase in awareness, and the growing demand for Organic food is fueling the only change American culture will react to – the dollar.  As demand grows, large corporations are increasing their focus and production on products that are certified to be free from these GMO’s and pesticides – a clear sign that you are not alone in your disapproval.  Corporations are realizing there is money to be made here, and are adapting their products accordingly. Conversely, companies that are founded on GMO’s and chemicals are seeing their profits spiraling downward, and institutions as iconically American as McDonalds are scrambling to try to revamp their fast food image as consumers run the other direction.




The Disappointing Reality of Labeling


Unfortunately, for some corporations that refuse to truly understand the market, this just means adjusting their labels, rather than making any real change.  The FDA has very little ability to enforce proper labeling, as anything claimed to be a ‘trade secret’ can be left off the federally mandated food label.  Some companies have realized the market for ‘freshness’ and ‘natural food’, and are changing to green packaging, slapping on the word ‘natural’ (which has no regulated meaning or standards) and calling it good without improving their product at all. So it is important to know what different labels mean.

When looking at pet food for your dog, remember that corn- and grain-free are best. The number one ingredient should be meat, and it should be identifiable meat, such as chicken or pork. Even better if it tells you exactly what part of the animal it is, such as beef hearts or pork loins.  You should be able to recognize every ingredient on the list, as GMO Soy can be hidden under a number of different names. Finally, if they can’t explain the ingredient in an easy to understand way, it may be bad for your pet. If you are just starting into the world of educated label-reading, this is a good starting point.



Smart phones are your best friends in this day and age, as you can quickly look up an ingredient to see if you really want it in your pets’ body (or yours!) before you purchase. It is worth the time to stand there for twenty minutes at the store looking at an ingredient list if it will save your pet from cancer later, and it is worth paying a little more at the pet store to save on vet bills in the long term.  Not only will your pet be happier and healthier, but you will save money and improve their quality of life when you consider thoroughly what you are feeding your pet, and take the time to educate yourself on the risks and benefits of different pet foods.  Of course, if you have read this far, you are clearly doing your research, so good job, pet parent!  Cheers to your beloved pet!

Happy little girl with her mastiff dog on a meadow in summer day


sustainable farming

Steve’s Real Food is dedicated to the education and increase of awareness of the consumer.  That is why we have an open book policy, where you can ask us anything, and we will give you an honest answer.  In case you are wondering, Steve’s Real Food is completely GMO-Free.



In the United States, cancer is estimated to be the number one cause of death in dogs over the age of 2 years old. The National Canine Cancer Foundation estimates that 1 in 3 pets will develop cancer – the same rate as in humans.

If you are a loving, caring pet owner, hearing your veterinarian say, “I think your dog has cancer” can be the most feared sentence in the English language. If you are so unfortunate as to have to live through that moment, a million questions and thoughts will be running through your mind. I remember hearing those words myself, as I sat with my best dog friend, McCain, at the vet’s office, when we learned that McCain had cancerous masses on his liver and spleen. Being a Specialty Veterinary Nurse for many years didn’t change the power of that moment as I sat on the receiving end of the news, nor did it change the thoughts and emotions that we were about to venture through.sick dog

So it is with that personal experience that I would like sort through some of these really big questions.

In this three-part blog I will go in-depth on the question of Cancer, both my experience and what you as a pet parent should know.

So, what is Cancer?

What causes it, and how do we diagnosis and treat it?  Why is cancer so common with our pets, and why do certain types of cancer affect certain breeds and afflict humans in the same ways?  These are a few questions that I have.

Cancer by definition – Cancer describes diseases involving the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells within the body. These cells are able to invade other tissues, spreading to other parts of the body through the blood and lymphatic systems. If caught early cancer may not be a life threatening illness; however, if left undetected the abnormal cells can spend to vital organs shutting down your pets system and eventually leading to death.

There are many things, some that may not even be known at this time, that can potentially cause our pets to develop cancer. The primary known causes for pets are; genetic factors, vaccines, environmental chemicals and toxins, and early spaying and neutering.


Genetic Factors:

Genetics can play a role for some types of cancer. For example, Giant breed dogs tend to develop osteosarcoma (bone cancer) far more than non-Giant breeds. Genetic pre-dispositions can be perpetuated through an entire breed or on a smaller scale through a breeding line.


Vaccinations have been proven to play a role in causing cancer. In cats, vaccine-associated sarcomas (VAS) are well documented. Vaccination-site tumors may occur when a pet receives repeated needle-sticks in the same place year after year. Components of the vaccination formula aside from the actual vaccine (adjuvants) may cause cancer to develop.


Chemicals and Toxins:

When it comes to environmental factors, the list is depressingly long, and food is at the top of that list. Possible carcinogens in food include:

BHT/BHA and Ethoxyquin: Take a look at those dog food labels – does your food contain BHT/BHA and Ethoxyquin? These are preservatives that are often used in pet foods to preserve fats and stabilize the entire product. This is how your kibble can stay fresh sitting in your pantry for months at a time. The problem is that your fresh smelling, BHA laden pet food is full of carcinogens.

GMO’s: Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) are replacing natural food sources on a wide scale, and are designed to grow bigger and faster than nature intended. Corn, one of the first ingredients in many pet foods, is almost always GMO in the US, and GMO’s in general are facing a strong public outcry and international backlash because of the many health problems they propagate.Aflatoxcin-Grains:  Molds called aflatoxins can easily grow in less than ideal situations, such as poor growing conditions or substandard/extended storage, and produce a very potent carcinogen. Contaminated grains such as corn, wheat, and rice, as well as nuts and legumes, are often found in low-quality pet food.  To make it worse, Aflatoxins are very stable and even the high temperature processing involved in kibble manufacturing won’t destroy them – even as it destroys what little nutritional value the kibble had to begin with.

Early Spaying and Neutering:

In recent studies with 3 breeds that are experiencing higher-than-normal cancer rates (Golden Retriever, Vizula and Rottiweiler) the conclusions were all similar:

The Golden Retriever study looked at cancer rates and found that the incidence of lymphosarcoma was three times higher in males neutered before 12 months of age than in unneutered males. Interestingly the percentage of hemangiosarcoma in females spayed after 12 months was four times higher than that of intact and even early-spayed females. Additionally, 6% of females spayed after 12 months were affected with mast cell cancer, while there were zero cases among the intact females.

Vizsla study researchers learned that spayed females had significantly higher rates of hemangiosarcoma than intact females (nine times higher). They also found that spayed/neutered dogs were 3.5% more likely to suffer mast cell cancer and 4.3 times more likely to suffer lymphoma.  (M. Christine Zink, DVM, PhD et al., Evaluation of the risk and age of onset of cancer and behavioral disorders in gonadectomized Vizslas. JAVMA, Vol 244, No. 3, February 1, 2014)

Rottweilers were analyzed in a retrospective cohort study that broke the risk down by age at spay/neuter. It found that the elevated risk of osteosarcoma was associated with spay/neuter of young dogs. Rottweilers spayed/neutered before one year of age were 3.8 (males) or 3.1 (females) times more likely to develop osteosarcoma than intact dogs. Indeed, the combination of breed risk and early spay/neuter meant that Rottweilers spayed/neutered before one year of age had a 28.4% (males) and 25.1% (females) risk of developing osteosarcoma. These results are consistent with the earlier multi-breed study but have an advantage of assessing risk as a function of age at neuter. A logical conclusion derived from combining the findings of these two studies is that the spay/neuter of dogs before 1 year of age is associated with a significantly increased risk of osteosarcoma. (Endogenous gonadal hormone exposure and bone sarcoma risk.Cooley DM, Beranek BC, Schlittler DL, Glickman NW, Glickman LT, Waters DJ.Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907, USA).

If you are worried your pet may have cancer, here are some of the warning signs and symptoms to be aware of:

Warning Signs and Symptoms of Pet Cancer

  • Abnormal swelling that persists or continues to grow
  • Sores that don’t heal
  • Unexplained weight loss/Loss of appetite
  • Bleeding or abnormal discharge regardless of the orifice
  • Difficulty eating or swallowing
  • Hesitation or loss of stamina
  • Persistent lameness
  • Difficulty breathing, urinating or defecating

Diagnosing Cancer

If you have noticed these symptoms, then what do you do? How is cancer diagnosed? Well, there are many diagnostic options that are available to us as pet owners and this is where sometimes a “team approach” comes in.  Consulting with your Veterinarian, an Oncologist (cancer specialist) and a Holistic Veterinarian is the starting point to help guide you through the process of discovering the type of cancer. The experts on your team may suggest some of the following for diagnosis:

  • CT Scan (cat scan)
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
  • Radiograph
  • Fine needle aspirate/Cytology
  • Biopsy with Histopathology
  • PET imaging (positron imaging tomography)
  • Bloodwork and Urinalysis

These tests will help narrow down the type of cancer, severity, location, etc., so you can determine a treatment plan So after the tests have all been ran then all we can do is wait for those answers.

Read Part II, where we discuss the different types of cancer and the potential treatment plans.

Sleeping Dogs Lie



This blog has been adapted from it’s original form. It was originally written by Amber Kingsley.

Ever heard of letting sleeping dogs lie? There is some real truth to this old saying – both as a metaphore and when talking about the kind of dogs that have tails!  If you’re a dog owner, you should know to let your pup get some rest, and just how much they  need.

Dogs sleep on average eight to ten hours more than humans, which means our dogs spend much of their lives sleeping. How much shut-eye your dog gets depends largely on his activity level, with service dogs and K9 officers getting the least amount of sleep. Because dogs can be very task-oriented, with motivation your dog could require less sleep.

The average housepet, however, likely rests quite a bit, even if your dog is part of an active family unit. Unless you live on a farm where the animals fend for themselves, deciding on where your dog should sleep is an important part of caretaking. Because dogs sleep so often, it’s a good idea to provide several sleeping spots around the home. For example, families like to have an area for the dog in the living room or TV area so that the dog can be around for quality time.

Depending on how your home is set up and how you would like it to be run with regards to dogs, children, furniture and the like, there are several widely used options for your pup’s main sleeping area. This sleeping spot should be encouraged every night from the time you bring your dog home, especially if you want to keep your pup away from certain spots in the house, like a child’s bed or an expensive sofa.

Some owners let their dog sleep with them. This is feasible usually when the dog is smaller, or the bed is bigger. Even if your dog sleeps with you every night, it’s still useful to provide the dog with at least one other bed of its own in the master bedroom, should it want a little more space. If you prefer to not have your dog in bed, they need to have a bed of their own in a designated area, whether it’s in the room with you or in some other area of the house.

Of course, some dog owners choose to keep their pups outdoors. Depending on their lifestyle people who live in the country or who have fenced-in yards may find that keeping the dog outside is best. If this is your situation, it iss necessary to create a dog house to protect your pooch from the elements. Be sure it’s leak proof and insulated for both rain and snow.

Depending on your dog’s behavior, health, and your own preferences, you may prefer to store your dog in a crate at night. Keeping your dog crated at night time keeps it from wandering onto furniture, making messes, having accidents, or sleeping with the kids.


There’s a lot of options for finding a place for your dogs to sleep, it’s simply a matter of what works for you and your pet! Click on the link below to see the infographic for more about the sleeping habits of dogs.


About the author Amber Kingsley on Dr Jo's Blog

Amber Kingsley is a journalist as well as a lifetime pet lover. When she’s not traveling the world, she’s usually spending time at home with her pets, and wants to help others make sure that their pets are as happy as they can be. From time to time, she contributes content to PetWave.

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