Salivary gland cancer, albeit on the rare side, is a serious ailment that generally affects elderly dogs. The salivary glands, as their names indicate, make saliva. Dogs feature four primary sets of these glands, all of which have the potential to grow tumors. Salivary gland cancer doesn't affect only canines, though -- it's actually more common in cats than in dogs.
Salivary gland tumors, in dogs, appear in two distinct categories. Some dogs have tumors that work gradually. These tumors generally are localized in the beginning stages of cancer. Dogs who are in the other group, however, have more intense tumors that expand quickly, spreading to the lungs and lymph nodes. Dogs with salivary gland cancer usually have adenocarcinomas, which are cancers that have roots in the glandular cells. Many others have carcinomas, which, in contrast, start out via the epithelial cells.
Some typical signs of salivary gland cancer in dogs are unpleasant breath, swallowing discomfort, the eyeball jutting out conspicuously, labored breathing, excessive salivation, slow loss of weight, the swelling of lymph nodes and failure to eat normally. If you are worried for any reason that your pooch might have salivary gland cancer, take him in for a veterinary examination immediately. Since this cancer can move fast, a prompt reaction is vital. If your pet does have salivary gland cancer, a vet can determine appropriate management options. The condition's prognosis is unclear, notes the National Canine Cancer Foundation.
Dogs are usually between 10 and 12 years in age when they experience salivary gland cancer. The condition doesn't appear in one gender any more than the other. Dogs who are part of the spaniel group have predispositions for salivary gland cancer, however -- think English springer spaniels and cocker spaniels, for example. Poodles also have predispositions for this specific cancer, so take note.
If a dog has salivary gland cancer, he is no danger to any pets or human beings who are part of his life. Salivary gland tumors are in no way infectious, according to the website for the Michigan Ave Animal Hospital.
The specific cause of salivary gland cancer is uncertain. However, the cancer could be associated with a variety of things, including contact with chemicals and radiation.
- Veterinary Society of Surgical Oncology: Salivary Gland Tumors
- Michigan Veterinary Specialists: Salivary Gland Tumors
- The National Canine Cancer Foundation: Salivary Gland Cancer
- Cancer in Dogs and Cats; Wallace B. Morrison
- Michigan Ave Animal Hospital: Salivary Glands Problems
- Merck Veterinary Manual: Salivary Disorders in Small Animals
- George Doyle & Ciaran Griffin/Stockbyte/Getty Images