Have you ever started taking a medication, or made a change in your lifestyle, to notice other troublesome symptoms start to dissipate? That is often the case for those who use CBD. Getting a daily dose of CBD is something that nearly 14% of Americans have added to their daily routines. So many have found such wonderful results, that they have started to share those benefits with their pets.
One thing many pet owners find, is that the older in age their furry companions get, the more discomfort they tend to experience. One of the causes for discomfort comes from tumors, that form under the surface of the skin.
What are Tumors?
Tumors are masses under the skin caused by abnormal cell growth, as a result the cells form a swelling under the skin which we then refer to as a tumor. It is important to note that dog tumors are no different to the tumors that affect us as humans. These tumors can be malignant or benign. A malignant tumor is a tumor that may invade its surrounding tissue or spread around the body. A benign tumor is a tumor that does not invade its surrounding tissue or spread around the body.
What Kinds of Tumors Affect Dogs?
Mast cell tumors: Mast cells tumors affect a specific type of blood cell. They form in the skin and are one of the most common types of skin tumors affecting canines. They generally grow very fast and are usually very red and itchy as they contain histamine; a compound which is released by cells in response to injury and in allergic and inflammatory reactions. Short-faced dog breeds like Boxers, Pugs, and French Bulldogs are most at-risk of developing these tumors.
Lipomas: Lipomas are very common in dogs. They usually form under the skin and are caused by the abnormal growth of fatty tissue. Luckily, lipomas are slow growing and usually harmless. They can usually be detected easily as they form as soft, movable lumps under your pet’s skin. Once they’ve been correctly identified, lipomas are usually left alone unless they impede a dog’s movement or activity.
Osteosarcoma: Osteosarcoma is a type of bone cancer affecting a specific type of cell that forms new bones. These tumors tend to affect the bones of the legs but can also form elsewhere. They tend to affect large dog breeds like Great Danes and Greyhounds, but also affect other breeds too. The most common sign of osteosarcoma is limping.
Histiocytoma: This tumor affects skin cells known as histiocytes (which actually form part of the immune system). They tend to affect younger dogs (usually under 3 years of age), and usually affect breeds like the English Bulldog, Scottish Terriers, Boxers, and Chinese Shar-Peis. Histiocytomas are typically benign and tend to regress on their own in a few months. Some tumors may be removed surgically if they are particularly bothersome for a pet.
Hemangiosarcoma: These tumors affect cells in the lining of blood vessels. They almost exclusively occur in dogs and are particularly invasive. They usually develop on the spleen, which has a large blood supply, but may also form in vessels in the heart or skin. Hemangiosarcomas can cause the spleen to rupture, causing pale gums, difficulty breathing, and difficulty getting up. These tumors tend to spread to other parts of the body and are more common in Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds.
Melanoma: Melanoma (often called “skin cancer”) affects pigmented skin cells. Like in humans, these tumors are usually visible on the skin as they form black or dark brown moles. Luckily, melanomas can be benign, although those forming in the mouth and nail bed tend to be particularly aggressive.
Lymphoma: These tumors form in the lymph nodes, causing them to swell. This can cause a variety of symptoms, including lethargy, loss of appetite, and coughing. Lymph node swelling is most noticeable under the jaw, in front of the shoulders, and behind the knees. These tumors are usually malignant and are generally treated with chemotherapy.
Papilloma: These tumors form as hard, cauliflower like warts on a dog’s lips, mouth, and around the eyes. They can be problematic for dogs as they can be painful and get infected. These tumors will usually develop then disappear within a few months, but they may also be removed surgically if they cause any problems for the dog.
What Symptoms do Tumors Produce?
The symptoms your dog displays will vary depending on the type of tumor they have. Some tumors, like melanomas, papilloma’s, and lipomas will cause noticeable growths that you or your vet will likely notice while petting, or during routine vet visits.
Lymphomas, on the other hand, may produce no notable symptoms other than swelling, which can be harder to diagnose. However, when affecting the gastrointestinal tract, lymphoma can cause vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and a lack of appetite.
Hemangiosarcoma symptoms can vary depending on whether the tumor is visceral (deep down under the skin) or dermal (affecting the top layer of skin).
Some common symptoms of malignant tumors can include but are not limited to:
Limping, pain, loss of appetite, vomiting and nausea, diarrhea, sores that don’t heal, lethargy, loss of interest in exercise, stiffness, difficulty breathing and/or coughing. However, keep in mind that some tumors do not cause any symptoms.
How are Tumors Treated?
Tumors first need to be diagnosed properly before a treatment plan can be discussed. To diagnose a tumor, doctors and vets will usually use one of more of the following diagnostics:
Lab tests (blood, urinalysis, etc.), X-rays and ultrasounds, CT scans or MRIs, fine needle aspirate and fluid analysis, or by doing a biopsy. Once the vet has correctly diagnosed the type of tumor affecting your dog, they’ll usually begin making a treatment plan specifically for them.
If the tumor is benign and doesn’t cause any major discomfort to the dog, your vet will usually opt to leave it be. If not, the next step is usually surgery to remove the tumor, part of it, or amputate the affected area. Following surgery, your vet will usually recommend chemotherapy to minimize the growth or spread of the tumor in the future.
If you have a pet that shows any symptoms of a tumor, it may be wise to try CBD, before opting for surgery, which can cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Since CBD is known to have an antitumorigenic effect, this means it may be able to help stop or slow the growth of tumors, or even work to shrink them.
If you’re interested in trying CBD for your dog, check out our pet products here.
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