Posts Tagged ‘cancer’

Morris Animal Foundation 2010 K9 Cancer Walk

April 14, 2010

I am gearing up for Morris Animal Foundation’s 2nd annual K9 Cancer Walk to be held in Elk Grove, California ( on Saturday, April 24th.  Just as was the case last year, I will be a speaker at this fabulous event along with Dr. Michael Kent, a staff oncologist at the UC Davis veterinary school.  The actual walk will begin at 10:00 am and the speakers program will be at 11:30 am.

Care to join me there?  If you cannot participate in person, I hope you will consider joining my virtual Speaking for Spot Team (   And if you are able to attend, please come introduce yourself to me.  I would love to meet you!

Here is the blog I posted one year ago after the very first K9 Cancer Walk.

Walking to Cure Canine Cancer

This past Saturday, I saw four three-legged dogs- each one having lost a limb as part of their treatment for bone cancer.  I met another sweetie pie with a shaved patch over one side of his chest.  His mom told me this was the site where her pup’s chest cavity was drained of fluid produced by a cancer growing at the base of his heart.  Yet another dog I encountered had an orange-sized tumor on the bridge of his nose. 

Believe it or not, I met none of these dogs in a veterinary hospital setting; rather, we were all gathered in Elk Grove, California, the site of the very first Morris Animal Foundation Walk to Cure Canine Cancer. Morris Animal Foundation has launched an unprecedented $30 million fundraising effort with the following goals in mind:

1.  Provide new treatments for dogs currently suffering from cancer
2.  Establish a high-quality tumor sample bank that can be used by cancer researchers
3.  Develop prevention strategies so that cancer might one day be eliminated or, at the very least, drastically reduced in incidence and severity
4.  Train new researchers who will work towards discovering preventions, treatments and cures

An important part of the fundraising effort will be in the form of “Walks to Cure Canine Cancer.”  The Elk Grove Walk raised $17,945!  I had the honor of speaking at this fabulous first-of-its-kind event-what a thrill to be part of it all!  More than 300 dogs and their humans gathered together in the fight against canine cancer.

As unfathomable as it sounds, cancer will be the cause of death in one out of every four of our beloved canine companions.  There’s so much we don’t yet know about what causes canine cancer and how best to treat it.  I’m thrilled with the Morris Animal Foundation plans.  They are an incredibly ethical and effective organization, and I am expecting great things. To learn more about the Morris Animal Canine Cancer Campaign, please visit I encourage you to participate in any way you can.

Best wishes to you and your four-legged family members for abundant good health, 

Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association 2009 Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, 2009 Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, 2009 Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life

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Please visit to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at, local bookstores, or your favorite online book seller.

How Can I Prevent My Dog From Getting Cancer?

September 7, 2009

When it comes to a cancer diagnosis, one of the most common questions I’m asked is, “How did my dog get this?” It’s only natural that people want to know what they could have done to prevent this dreadful diagnosis.  

Unfortunately, it’s exceedingly rare that I am able to provide a clear-cut answer. Yes, we know that cigarette smoke, asbestos, sun exposure, and some pesticides and lawn herbicides can be carcinogenic in dogs. We also know that female hormones influence the development of mammary tumors (breast cancer). In most cases of canine cancer, however, there is no discernible cause. 

Genetics clearly play a role in the development of some cancers. Giant dog breeds (heavier than 75 pounds) are predisposed to bone cancer. We certainly see an inherited predisposition to cancer in particular breeds, including Boxers, Golden Retrievers, Rottweilers, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Boston Terriers, English Bulldogs, Scottish Terriers, and Cocker Spaniels. 

So what can you do to prevent cancer in your four-legged best friend? Here are some suggestions (I truly hope this list becomes longer as our knowledge about cancer increases): 

Avoid exposure to known carcinogens (cancer causing substances) such as cigarette smoke, asbestos, and lawn herbicides. 

If your dog has little or no pigment on his face or underside, avoid letting him sunbathe during daylight hours when the sun is most intense. 

Talk to your veterinarian about when your dog should be spayed or castrated. Neutering prevents testicular, ovarian, and uterine cancer. Neutering female dogs before their first heat eliminates the risk of developing breast cancer, and when performed before two years of age the risk is markedly reduced.  Some data suggests that postponing neutering until a year or more of age in large breed dogs may be protective against bone cancer. More studies looking at this relationship are needed. 

Before adopting a purebred dog from the list of breeds mentioned above, do the research needed to confirm that parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents were cancer free. I recently had the heartbreaking experience of working with two Bernese Mountain Dog littermates who lost the battle to a type of cancer called malignant histiocytosis. Three of their other four siblings had already succumbed to the same disease. 

Have your dog thoroughly examined by your veterinarian at least once a year. Just as with us, the earlier the detection of a cancerous process, the better the chances are for successfully treating the disease. 

Dr. Nancy Kay
Specialist, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine 

Please visit to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at, local bookstores, or your favorite online book seller. 

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