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Getting a cancer diagnosis for your dog can be very difficult. Therefore, if you can take steps to keep your dog healthy, you may prevent the emotional and financial cost that is often associated with a cancer diagnosis. 

The best way to ensure early detection of cancer or other illnesses is to examine your dog every week and note changes in their behavior or physical health. Make scheduled wellness visits to your vet and report anything unusual when you notice it. Being proactive with your dog’s health ensures that signs of illness are detected as early as possible.

 A healthy and high-quality diet is the first step toward cancer prevention in dogs. Feeding your dogs a diet will support their growth and development while boosting their immune system to fight against any newly created cancer. A preventive diet is low on carbohydrates with high levels of protein and fat. A balanced diet for your dog includes animal protein (chicken, turkey, pork, beef, and fish), fish oil, and fruits and vegetables like broccoli, blueberries, green beans, apples, coconut oil, beets, and sweet potatoes.

In addition to balanced nutrition, regular physical activity is also essential for a dog’s health. Exercise will help keep your dog’s weight under control and prevent obesity, a risk factor for cancer development in dogs. It can also reduce inflammation, a hallmark feature of different kinds of cancer. Moreover, exercise can stimulate the immune system by improving the circulation of lymph (a colorless fluid containing white blood cells that fight against infections).

By keeping your dog healthy through diet and exercise, you can keep them around for longer. Even if your vet diagnoses your dog with cancer, the changes will be more noticeable in a healthy dog, allowing you and your vet to detect the cancer earlier. A significant portion of early-stage cancers can go into remission for years and not relapse, enabling dogs to go on and live long and happy lives.

The Pet Cancer Foundation’s Website Editorial team is comprised of veterinarians, veterinary oncologists, and veterinary technicians, as well as scientific writers and editors who have attained their PhD’s in the life sciences, along with general editors and research assistants. All content found in this section goes through an extensive process with multiple review stages, to ensure this extended resource provides pet families with the most up-to-date information publicly available.

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Keep Your Pets Healthy Editorial Team

Last Updated: May 10, 2022

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The following sources were referenced to write the content on this page: 

German, AJ, Blackwell, E, Evans, M & Westgarth, C 2017, ‘Overweight dogs exercise less frequently and for shorter periods: results of a large online survey of dog owners from the UK’, J Nutr Sci, vol. 6, pp. e11-e15.

Ogilvie, GK 1998, ‘Interventional nutrition for the cancer patient’, Clin Tech Small Anim Pract, vol. 13, no. 4, pp. 224-231.

Romano, FR, Heinze, CR, Barber, LG, Mason, JB & Freeman, LM 2016, ‘Association between body condition score and cancer prognosis in dogs with lymphoma and osteosarcoma’, J Vet Intern Med, vol. 30, no. 4, pp. 1179-1186.

Swanson, KS, Carter, RA, Yount, TP, Aretz, J & Buff, PR 2013, ‘Nutritional sustainability of pet foods’, Adv Nutr, vol. 4, no. 2, pp. 141-150.

The Pet Cancer Foundation’s medical resource for pet owners is protected by copyright.

For reprint requests, please see our Content Usage Policy.