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One in four unspayed dogs at risk of breast, ovarian cancer

UAE residents urged to sterilise their pets to keep dreaded diseases at bay

Image Credit: A.K. Kallouche/XPRESS
Dr Sara Elliott (front) with clinic staff and dogs, all dressed in pink, at the cancer awareness programme held at the clinic recently.

Dubai: One in four unspayed female dogs is at risk of breast cancer, according to a local vet.

“We see at least one dog every week with breast or ovarian cancer. This is a ridiculously high number. Most cannines with cancer are old. I just wish pet owners would sterilise their animals early to prevent the risk of cancer,” said Dr. Sara Elliott of British Veterinary Hospital (BVH) in Jumeirah during an cancer awareness programme at the clinic in line with the month-long pink campaign.

Time to spay

She said owners should ideally spay their female dogs when they are six months old, just before they attain maturity.

“Studies show dogs sterilised when they are six to nine months old are eight times less likely to get mammary cancer,” said Elliott.

She said many pet owners were clueless about how to examine their pets for lumps. According to her, over 50 per cent of benign tumours in dogs turn malignant later in life. “We always urge pet owners to examine their dogs regulardly. If a lump is found, it should be removed at the earliest.”

She said some breeds are more susceptible to cancer due to their genetic disposition. Poodles, English springer spaniels, Brittanys, cocker spaniels, English setters, pointers, German shepherd dogs, Maltese and Yorkshire terriers are at higher risk of developing breast or mammary tumors.

“They are usually afflicted with cancer when they are around 10 years of age,” said Dr. Elliott.


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