The rate of cancers in Goldens has reached an alarming number and no one knows for certain why this is true. Many young Goldens are succumbing to cancer at early ages, often dying well before their average ten-year life span. Some people believe that the reason is genetic — that we are selecting dogs that carry genes that make them more susceptible to cancer — but others believe the cause is environmental.

There isn't a simple answer; the problem of cancer is multifaceted. More than likely it is a combination of genetic and environmental factors that is causing the increase in the rate of cancers. One thing being considered is that individuals that develop cancer have a compromised immune system. No one can agree on just what is taxing that immune system so much that it is allowing cancers to predominate and perpetuate themselves. Some argue it is the constant barrage of vaccines we subject our dogs to. Other factors might include overmedication or exposure to toxic substances, like flea-and-tick products, lawn fertilizers, and other chemicals.

You can help your Golden live longer by keeping him out of contact with these and other toxins. Some things that you can do that may help your dog live longer are:

  • Vaccinate sparingly and use blood titers to check immunity.

  • Avoid flea and tick products except under extreme circumstances.

  • Avoid using chemical fertilizers and pesticides on your lawn.

  • Avoid smoking around your dog.

  • Bathe your dog every month to six weeks to remove toxins from the skin and coat.

  • Feed him a good-quality diet and steer clear of chemical preservatives.

  • Offer filtered water rather than tap water.

  • Check your dog weekly for lumps or abnormal growths.

  • Visit your veterinarian yearly for checkups.

There is some treatment available for cancer caught early enough. Some of the larger veterinary hospitals have the means to treat dogs with chemotherapy to help reduce tumor size and give the dog a little longer life. Treatment does not come cheap, however. Despite heroic measures, dogs often succumb to the disease well before we think they should. Treatment is a personal decision that is best made with expert veterinary advice and a hard look at the dog's quality of life. Each dog owner is different, and each case is different. A solution that was perfect for one family may not be right for another.

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