The liver is a major organ that helps in detoxification of the body. Carcinogenic and toxic compounds consumed by dogs pass through it, which can potentially cause primary liver cancer in dogs. The liver is also a front-runner in destinations for metastatic tumors in dogs as well as humans. Primary cancer tends to metastasize to other parts of the body quite easily, and this can happen before the disease has even been diagnosed.
A liver that functions improperly is equivalent to shutting down the multiple functions that the liver has to perform. These functions include the following:
- Detoxification of toxins and drugs
- Storage and dispersion of nutrients
- Regulation of body temperature and circulation
- Digestion of food
Initially the symptoms of liver cancer in dogs appear as abdominal pain when the dog is lifted from the stomach, a large mass felt in the abdomen or excessive weight loss. High levels of bilirubin in the blood stream or urine and an ultrasound that shows an enlarged liver or inflammation in the pancreas are indicative of liver cancer. A definitive diagnosis, however, is done with a liver biopsy.
Primary liver cancer, where the removal of the affected lobe is possible, is often treated with surgery. Surgery is mostly ruled out in instances where multiple lobes are affected. Secondary liver cancer is usually treated with chemotherapy.
It is difficult to detect liver cancer in its early stages, and prognosis of the advanced stage is extremely poor. The cause of the disease is also difficult to ascertain. Our pets are called upon to digest large quantities of chemically processed commercial foods. That appears to be the major reason behind the increased incidence of canine and feline liver cancer. The best you can do for your ailing dog is to feed him a diet that will keep him healthy and aid in the chemotherapy that might be advised by the veterinarian.
Home cooked food is the best diet that you can give to your dog. If that is not possible, you should try and be careful when buying commercial pet food. Don’t just assume that an expensive brand is the best.
The basic rule that should be kept in mind is that dogs are meat eaters and do not graze. They have evolved in a way that they do not produce enzymes necessary for digesting grains. High levels of proteins and fats with lower levels of carbohydrates are best suited for dogs. The primary constituent of dog food should thus be a meat product. You can assess this simply by reading the label of your dog food. Almost all brands mix grains in varying quantities. The difference is the proportion of grains that are added to the dog food.
To be on the safe side, you can take your own preventive measures. Add a can of sardines to any dog food that you buy. Sardines contain high amounts of fish oil, which is a natural source of fatty acids called Omega 3, 6 and 9. These fatty acids are good at combating cancer cells and can be added in the ratio - 1000 mg per 9 kg of body weight.