Reasons Why Dogs Have Canine Pancreatic Cancer
Canine pancreatic cancer is extremely rare. It’s estimated that this form of cancer is found in dogs in only about five percent of all cancer cases. Pancreatic cancer is often difficult to diagnose and treat due to the fact that the symptoms are non-specific and may not manifest until the disease is already advanced. By the time the symptoms do start to show the cancer has usually already spread to other parts of the dog’s body, which makes this a difficult cancer to treat successfully.
Canine pancreatic cancer does not have an identifiable cause. In the body the pancreas works to regulate the supply of blood sugar. It also secretes hormones and digestive enzymes which the dog requires to digest food. If a dog has a tumor in the pancreas it is very painful. It is believed that most tumors which grow in the pancreas are malignant.
The symptoms of cancer in the pancreas are non-specific. They include symptoms which could be suggestive of other illnesses. They may include the following symptoms:
- loss of appetite
- weight loss
- abdominal pain
- hair loss
In some extreme cases dogs may also experience seizures and a loss of coordination. Dogs may have blood in their stool from bleeding in the pancreas. If the dog’s bile duct in blocked the dog’s skin may have a yellow tinge.
Most of the symptoms are nebulous and not immediately suggestive of a problem with the pancreas. Owners and veterinarians do not usually think first of pancreatic cancer. In most cases dogs do not begin to display symptoms until the later stages of the cancer.
Pancreatic cancer may be mistaken for other conditions such as pancreatic nodular hyperplasia. Your vet may need to do exploratory surgery in order to confirm that your dog has pancreatic cancer.
If your dog does have pancreatic cancer, cancer cells often metastasize quickly through the dog’s blood supply. The disease can spread quickly to other parts of the body which makes it very hard to treat.
If you begin to notice some of these symptoms in your dog you should contact your veterinarian. Your veterinarian may not immediately think of pancreatic cancer but he or she can start to do some tests. Your vet will likely do a complete blood count on your dog, a urinalysis, and take an x-ray of your dog’s abdomen. An abdominal ultrasound may also be necessary to locate any tumor and find out if the tumor has spread to other organs such as the liver or lymph nodes.
It is possible that your dog will be anemic or that he has bilirubin in his bloodstream, or that he has heightened glucose levels. Your vet may need to perform exploratory surgery to get a closer view of the tumor and make a better diagnosis.
Canine pancreatic cancer is difficult to treat. Most dogs don’t show obvious symptoms until the cancer is already in an advanced stage. By the time your veterinarian makes a diagnosis, the tumor may already have spread to other organs. If the tumor has not yet spread then your vet may be able to stop the cancer by surgical means. Surgery is considered the most common and effective means of treatment.
Other options include radiation, chemotherapy, and drug therapy. You may not be able to feed your dog solid food because the pancreas won’t be able to secrete digestive enzymes to help digest it. This means that your dog will have to be fed through an IV. Your dog will also need pain medication.
The pancreas is a vital organ and when a cancer affects it, it can cause your dog serious problems. This cancer is hard to treat, especially if the tumor has already progressed to other organs. In most cases dogs do not live more than a year after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, even if they have the best of treatment and care.