Common Canine Cancers and What To Do About Them

The family dog is not only a protector, but in many cases, she’s also an unending source of unconditional love. More times than not, you consider her to be a member of the family rather than just an ordinary pet. Because of the connection between dogs and their owners, a cancer diagnosis can be especially hard to hear.

But, not all cancers are the same, and this is true for canine cancers, as well. Some can be treated with certain medications or surgeries, leaving the dog with several more jubilant years of life. Understanding which types of cancer dogs are most prone to will give you the information you need to deal with such a situation, should one ever arise.

Here are the top five kinds of cancer in dogs and the medicines used to treat them.

types of cancer in dogs


Dogs are prone to developing several different forms of lymphoma, the most common of which involves the enlargement of external lymph nodes. Other types of lymphoma in dogs include cutaneous lymphoma (skin cancer), gastrointestinal lymphoma, and nervous system lymphoma. Lymphoma can occur anywhere there are lymph cells in the body, such as in the liver, the spleen, and the kidneys, as well.

Lymphoma can develop in any age, sex, and breed of dog, but it is a highly treatable form of cancer. The most popular chemotherapy agents used for treating lymphoma in dogs include chlorambucil, cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, L-asparaginase, lomustine, mitoxantrone, vinblastine, and vincristine.

Mast Cell Tumors

Mast cell tumors are also called mastocytomas. This type of tumor can develop in any organ system in the body because the body’s immune cells are often involved. Mast cell tumors in the skin are the most common form of this cancer in dogs, with more serious forms found in the urinary tract and the digestive tract.

Surgical removal is the usual treatment for tumors considered to be “low-grade.” More aggressive tumors require surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Lomustine and vinblastine are two of the more popular chemotherapy agents used to treat mast cell tumors in dogs.


Osteosarcoma is the clinical name for bone cancer. In dogs, this type of cancer usually affects large and giant breeds, and the most common location on the body where it is found is in the dog’s limbs.

Osteosarcoma can be aggressive. Once it metastasizes, it can spread from the origin spot to distant parts in the body, such as the lungs and the lymph nodes. It can also spread to other bones. Because bone cancer is so painful, surgical amputation of the affected limb is usually called for to help alleviate the dog’s pain.

Chemotherapy treatment for osteosarcoma in dogs includes the use of carboplatin, cyclophosphamide, and occasionally doxorubicin or vincristine.


Liposarcoma is the diagnosis given when a dog has malignant skin tumors that may or may not develop between muscle tissue and consist of excess fatty tissue. The tumors grow under the skin with the most common parts affected being the dog’s trunk, axillary regions, and groin. It can also be found in the chest or abdominal cavity.

Surgical removal of the tumor is almost always required, especially when it is in the limbs. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy will be required when a dog has this type of cancer, with the most common medications used including carboplatin, cyclophosphamide, and vincristine.

Oral Melanoma

Oral melanoma is most commonly found in dog breeds that tend to have dark-pigmented tongues and gums. This is one of the most common oral cancers found in dogs, and because it develops in the underlying tissue and bone of the oral cavity, complete surgical removal of the tumor is often impossible.

Veterinarians typically treat this type of cancer with an aggressive initial operation to remove as much of the tumor as possible, followed by radiation therapy, immune therapy, and chemotherapy. There is also a therapeutic DNA-based vaccine that’s now available for treating dogs diagnosed with this form of cancer. Oral melanoma’s chemotherapy drug of choice for dogs is carboplatin, because it produces minimal side effects in most dogs.

What You Can Do If Your Dog Has Been Diagnosed With Cancer

If your dog has been diagnosed with cancer, then you can request your vet to purchase her chemotherapy medications from Diamondback Drugs. We’ll provide you with a free quote for the medications so you know how much they will cost before the scripts are filled. Try us today. Diamondback Drugs can help save you money on all of your dog’s chemotherapy medications.

Author: Giano Panzarella