CHENNAI: As your pet crosses six years of age, its chances of getting oral tumour also rises. Veterinarians say that this is the most common tumour found in dogs. “This is one of the most common cancer found in dogs,” says Dr R Sokkalingam from the Society for Prevention to Cruelty of Animals (SPCA). “There are six per cent chances of dogs getting tumour. One must pay attention to it immediately, or else, the dog will have to suffer for the rest of its life. There is no treatment,” he adds.
Malignant melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma are the most common oral tumours found in dogs; squamous cell carcinoma is also common in cats. “Squamous cell carcinoma is a rarely transmissible tumour and they end up affecting the bone. This is one of the toughest cancers to treat,” says Sokkalingam.
It can be detected, if a mass is found in the oral cavity. Profuse bleeding in the oral cavity, bad mouth odour, weight loss, swelling in face and increased salivation are also signs of the presence of tumour. They grow very quickly, spreading to the bone and tissue and to the other areas of the body as well. Large dog breeds in the age group of six and 22 months are prone to this tumour.
On rare occasions, it can also be found in puppies belonging to other breeds.
“In case of benign tumour, we conduct an X ray and conduct a biopsy on the oral mass to detect if it is cancerous or just an inflammation. We also conduct chemotherapy, in case of serious ones,” says Dr Arun Prasad, associate professor of veterinary surgery from the Madras Veterinary College. While vets say that tumours are usually a genetic predisposition, it can be avoided if the pet is kept healthy throughout. “Maintaining the dog’s oral hygiene is a must. Their teeth must be brushed once in 15 days, and can be given chew bones as it keeps the gums stronger,” says Sokkalingam.
“Tumours are slow growing, if brought early, it can be removed easily. If delayed it can be incurable,” adds Arun Prasad.