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Veterinary

Good News Regarding Cancer for Leonbergers and Other Dogs

Cancer is the most common killer of purebred dogs: in fact, nearly half of them die from some form of cancer. Overall, the most common form is skin cancer. In Leonbergers, bone cancer and hemangiosarcoma are the most common forms. As in humans, early detection can save or extend the life of your dog. Warning signs of cancer include:

  • weight loss,
  • bleeding or discharge from a body cavity,
  • bumps or lumps that keep growing,
  • persistent stiffness or lameness,
  • breathing difficulties,
  • bad breath or bodily odors,
  • difficulty with defecation or urination,
  • difficulty with eating or swallowing,
  • lesions that won’t heal,
  • sores that recur or won’t heal, and
  • loss of appetite

Naturally, not every one of these signs and symptoms is applicable to all types of cancer. The only sign of Bronco’s squamous cell carcinoma was a lesion that wouldn’t heal.

Hemangiosarcoma (HSA) is an aggressive cancer of the blood vessels. It often appears as a mass in the spleen, liver, or heart but can also be found elsewhere. It is challenging to diagnose and equally difficult to treat. It is most common in golden retrievers, German shepherds, and Labrador retrievers but can occur in Leonbergers as well. In addition to genetic factors, certain toxins are associated with this cancer. Fortunately, there is a promising blood test (called the Shine On Study, or SOS) that identifies features of rare cells linked to this cancer and a novel drug therapy called eBAT (EGF bispecific ligand targeted angiotoxin). Both SOS and eBAT are still in the clinical-study phase at the time of this writing, but they offer hope for early detection and treatment.

Illustration showing Bronco our Leonberger running with a full leg cast. He just had a toe amputation.
Bronco’s cancer problem was Squamous cell carcinoma which luckily is not an aggressive cancer, but he needed toe amputations. He got this cancer once a year starting at the age of eight.
Photo of Rollo our mini-Australian Shepherd helping us change our Leonberger Bronco’s bandage after he had a toe amputation.
Rollo our mini-Australian Shepherd is helping us change Bronco’s bandage after he had a toe amputation.

Below is another piece of good news regarding cancer in dogs that a friend of ours alerted us to. I don’t know if it is related to the SOS study mentioned above. You can watch the video by clicking on it or by clicking here.

AKC video, a blood test that can detect cancer. It does not seem to work for me. Just click the link above.

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Finally, if you would like to learn about more about my book and find out where to buy it, click here or here. You can also click the image below to buy it from Amazon.com.

Image showing the front cover of the book "The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle". Click on the image to go to the Amazon.com location for the book.
This is the front cover of the book “The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle”. Click on the image to go to the Amazon.com location for the book.

By thomasstigwikman

My name is Thomas Wikman. I am a software/robotics engineer with a background in physics, but I am currently retired. I took early retirement. I am a dog lover, and especially a Leonberger lover, a home brewer, craft beer enthusiast, an amateur astronomer, I’m learning French, and I am an avid reader. I live in Dallas, Texas, but I am originally from Sweden. I am married to Claudia, and we have three children Jacob, David and Rachel. My blog feature the crazy adventures of our Leonberger e Bronco von der Löwenhöhle as well as information on Leonbergers

10 replies on “Good News Regarding Cancer for Leonbergers and Other Dogs”

Yes you are right. When my mother passed away from multiple myeloma in 1996 at the age of 56 there was no way to predict, test or cure that disease. Now they can detect that disease 10 years before you show any symptoms thus stopping it before it breaks out. So I am safe from that disease. There is a test called the Galleri test from Grail that detects 50 different cancers in humans years before they break out. You have to pay for it, insurance won’t cover it, but you have the potential of stopping any kind of cancer long before it becomes a problem. This is important for cancers like pancreatic cancer which won’t show symptoms until it is too late. The same is now becoming reality for dogs. Well, heck it seems to become reality for dogs before humans because regular insurance does not pay for Galleri but we always pay for dogs, don’t we.

Sorry about the video. I’ve posted youtube videos in wordpress before and it worked. I don’t know why this one refused to play. Well it seems the link is working though.

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Our sheepdog had this too. He would often come up lame with his paw and xrays would show nothing. When he was 12 it finally showed a tumor on the paw that had now replaced the bone in that spot. The only treatment at the time was amputation. We opted not to because at 12, he was near the end of his life and I didn’t want to put him through that. Before they would have done the surgery, they would have to check his chest to see if the cancer migrated there. 6 months later when he started having difficulty breathing we were told that it probably would have been too late to amputate anyway.

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Patti I am very sorry for your loss. When it is about squamous cell carcinoma, like all cancers it can spread. In your case it had already spread and there’s not much you can do. A blood test to detect before hand it would have been great.

However, if you do the toe amputation on time the dog will be fine. A lost toe is not a big deal. It is three weeks in bandage unless it is a major toe on a front leg, then you may need a full leg cast for ten days, and you can’t bump that, but you certainly will, just don’t tell anyone.

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By the time it was detected, he would have needed amputation to the knee joint. I don’t think that’s fair to a 12-year-old dog to expect them to learn to get around on 3 legs. If he had been younger, it would have been different. It’s an awful thing to go through, especially all the years we thought he was a big hypochondriac.

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Our black lab Daisy had a growth removed from her mammary glands and it was cancerous. We took her to a doctor that specialized in that type of cancer in dogs, and after a round of treatment, she was doing well. She ended up living several more years. She was well-loved and an important member of the family. 💗 🐾

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