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Cancer in Dogs

Dog receiving radiotherapy treatment at UC Davis

Pictured: Dog receiving radiotherapy treatment

Canine Cancer Overview

Unlike many other animals, dogs are susceptible to the same types of cancers as humans. For example, dogs are the only non-human species that are at risk for prostate cancer. Dogs are also at risk for include bladder, brain tumors, hemangiosarcoma, lymphoma, lung cancer, mammary carcinoma, mast cell tumors, skin cancer, testicular cancer and bone cancer.

Facts About Canine Cancer

  • Cancer incidence was 3 times higher in female than in male dogs, a difference explained by the high rate of mammary cancer * When Cancer Comes With a Pedigree - WSJ
  • About 1 in 3 dogs die of cancer, which is the same rate as people, some breeds, however, are more susceptible than others * National Canine Cancer Foundation
  • Last year Nationwide Pet Insurance received more than 75,000 pet insurance claims for cancer diagnosis and treatment * Nationwide Pet Insurance

Types of Canine Cancer

Just like humans, cancer can affect any part of your dog's body. Two of the most common types of canine cancer are bone and heart cancer. Learn more here.


Signs and Symptoms


The National Canine Cancer Foundation describes 10 warning signs that may indicate your dog might have cancer.

  • Abnormal swelling
  • Sores that don’t heal
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bleeding or discharge
  • Offensive odor
  • Difficulty eating or swallowing
  • Loss of stamina
  • Persistent lameness
  • Difficulty breathing, urinating or defecating

Cancer Treatment

Depending on the severity and type of cancer treatments can include chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery or a combination. The cost to treat canine cancer also depends on the severity and type. Major surgery to remove tumors usually starts around $2,000 to $3,000.

Diagnostics cost $200 and up, depending on the location of the cancer, surgery to remove a tumor deep in the body, or that requires reconstruction, usually starts at about $1,500, chemotherapy depends on the size of the dog, and usually ranges from $200 to $2,000 and up, for three to six months of treatment - $9,700 total cost for one-time cancer treatment (National Canine Cancer Foundation).

Chemotherapy starts at around $500 per session and usually takes at least four to five sessions. Radiation therapy is generally the most expensive and usually ranges from $2,000 to $6,000.

Cost to Treat: $5,000 to $20,000

Here is a simple example of how pet insurance claims work. Pet insurance companies pay claims based on your actual, total veterinary bills for cancer treatment.

Health Issue Cancer
Cost of Treatment $12,000
Reimbursement 90%

($12,000 x 90%)

Deductible Less: $200
Total Claim Paid

Source: How do Claims Work?

Customer Story

Womoan sitting next to her dog

Pictured: Baron and Veronique

"Baron was about one year old when I adopted him almost 7 years ago. He was malnourished likely abused and neglected as a puppy. He had a rough start to life from what I was told. I quickly learned Baron was going to be quite a project for me. He was afraid of everything and everyone. From day one, he would come to work with me every day so he could be by my side and see what the world had to offer. It took Baron a little over a year to learn to play, learn not to be afraid of everyone, and not to react to his fear in an aggressive way." Read Full Story

Canine Cancer Awareness

Sadly, our furry friends are just as susceptible as humans to get cancer. As you've read, cancer is one of the most common causes of death in dogs. The good news is that there are several organizations in the U.S. that are spending time and money on cancer research for companion animals.


These R&D efforts and modern technological advances have made treatment for cancer possible. Today there are specialty clinics all over the country that specialize in oncology. Treatments for cancer in pets include radiology, chemotherapy and surgery. In many cases the same companies helping to treat humans are providing tools and medications for our pets. Canine cancer is a lot more prevalent that many pet parents realize. That is why we appreciate and support National Pet Cancer Awareness month in November.

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