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Some dog breeds might be genetically predisposed to certain cancers

Dog and mom in the woods
Dog and mom in the woods

It is not uncommon in this postmodern age for dog owners to refer to, and even treat, their dog as if that dog were their child. “This is my baby” and “These are my kids” are phrases frequently uttered by dog owners, absent of any irony, to introduce a bounding Labrador to a new acquaintance or to draw attention from across a bar top to a smartphone picture of a pair of panting Corgis.

All commentary aside, and presuming that there are likely as many people who identify themselves in this state of affairs as there are those who are confused and nauseated by it, the following is important, if potentially distressing, news for modern parents of canine children.Dr. Gerald Post, a board-certified veterinary oncologist, wrote a post on this afternoon concerning revelations made while researching the canine genome that are beginning to make causal links between a dog’s breed and its likelihood of developing certain kinds of cancer. Post notes that while every dog is at some level of risk for cancer, some breeds of dog seem to develop specific types of cancer more frequently than others. For example, Cocker Spaniels and Basset Hounds are more closely associated with B-cell lymphomas than are other breeds and mixes. Such connections have had empirical support for some time, but it is only now, through genetic research, that scientists might be able definitively describe the connections and move towards more effective treatments.

In general, canine children should be taken to a licensed veterinarian for regular checkups. But parents should also be watchful for warning signs of specific cancers and diligent in keeping their kids away from factors that might increase risk, such as an unhealthy diet.

Janet Tobiassen Crosby, a doctor in veterinary medicine, states that about 1 in 4 dogs will succumb to some form of cancer, and that appearance of tell-tale symptoms like sudden weight loss, uncharacteristic lethargy or loss of appetite and new or changed lumps on the dog’s skin should always be checked out by a vet. While this might inspire an increase of hypochondriasis by proxy in parents of canine children, when the well-being of a child is on the line, one can never be too safe.