As with so many health problems, the ideal way to deal with cancer is to prevent it ever getting started in your dog's body. This may be easier said than done. If your dog has a genetic predisposition to a certain cancer, the disease may get a foothold no matter what you do. Still, there are ways we can help to keep cancer at bay.
A Healthy Environment
The knowledge we have from human medicine on the effects of environmental hazards can be applied to your canine companions. Being exposed to secondhand smoke is as dangerous for dogs as it is for children, so your dog's health is another good reason for you to quit. Being exposed for long periods of time to other noxious fumes, such as gasoline or industrial solvents, is bad for your dog too. If something makes you feel ill or woozy, it undoubtedly makes your dog feel that way as well.
Pesticides are sometimes a necessity, such as on farms or ranches, but the more we can avoid exposing our dogs to them, the better. Always follow guidelines about pesticide exposure carefully. If the directions suggest waiting two hours before letting your dog on the lawn, why not wait a whole day just to be extra safe? Better yet, remember that crab grass will look green and healthy when regular turf is dried up from drought, so why not leave it!
What Your Dog Eats
In general, dogs eat healthier, better-balanced meals than most people. Some preservatives are necessary in packaged foods to keep them from going rancid, which can also cause health problems. Still, it makes sense to avoid foods with extra preservatives or added dyes. Fresh foods and balanced plain dry kibble are better alternatives than the fake stews that appeal to people more than dogs. Extra vitamins and antioxidants such as coenzyme Q10 may help to keep your dog healthy over a long life. Always check with your veterinarian before adding supplements, as too many vitamins can be as harmful as too few.
The Genetic Factor
At this time, the capability to fix most genetic defects is beyond us. In the future (and even in a few isolated cases right now) genetic defects may be correctable and treatable. Certainly if a breed of dog is prone to a certain cancer, it would be nice if the defective gene could be changed in utero or after birth to help your puppy avoid that fate. For now, it is important to research the background of your puppy as thoroughly as possible. Ask about health problems seen on both sides of her family — the dam's and the sire's. Knowing the cause of death of related dogs could help you to choose a healthier pup.
Your dog's immune system is known to be a factor in guarding her against cancer. Precancerous or cancerous cells show up in all of us over time. Luckily, a healthy immune system can often deal with these threats on its own, so keeping your dog in excellent health is important. A fit dog is a healthy weight and is getting plenty of exercise. That, along with good food and preventive care against parasites and infectious diseases, gives any dog a better chance of fighting off any cancer or handling treatment if a cancer should manage to become established.