Protecting Your Dog From Malignant Melanoma

Melanoma is a tumor in the melanocyte cells, which are the cells that produce melanin or the color in your skin. Malignant melanoma is a tumor that grows and becomes worse - and is often associated with cancer. These tumors are seen in humans who have excessive skin damage from the sun, but can also be seen in dogs. Your beloved pooch Angie may experience melanoma in her mouth, skin or toenail if you don't take proper precautions.

Exercise Your Dog
: We realize the importance of exercise in humans, but sometimes fail to acknowledge that our dogs require it to stay healthy too. A healthy weight is important for preventing undue strain on the body and exercise is the best way to achieve this. Give Angie her daily walk and let her play in the yard until she tires out.

Filtered Water: Tap water often contains lead and other chemicals. A water purifier is a great investment for cleaner, healthier water that will benefit both you and Angie. Another option is to purchase a cheaper portable filtration pitcher that sits in the fridge. Don't let Angie drink from puddles and bring a bottle of purified water with you everywhere you go just in case she gets thirsty. Water flushes out toxins from the body.

Limit Sun Exposure: Malignant melanoma in humans is commonly caused by ultraviolet damage from the sun. The same goes for dogs. If Angie is fair-haired and has a short coat, she will be at an even higher risk. You can limit her exposure to sun by keeping her indoors during the hottest hours of the day and using a vet-approved dog sunscreen. If you take her to the park or beach, get her into the shade as soon if her skin gets too warm.

Limit Exposure to other Carcinogens: Secondhand smoke is not good for Angie. Never smoke in the home and do not allow others to smoke near her. If you grow plants or flowers in your garden, never use chemical pesticides or phenoxy herbicides. These have both been linked to cancer in dogs. Anything that introduces free radicals to the body will challenge Angie's immune system and eventually cause problems.

A Healthy Diet: Cancer in humans is a complex phenomenon, but can be associated with a poor diet and failing immune system. In both humans and dogs alike, the immune system must function properly to fight off the effects of damaging free radicals. Pick only the highest quality food for your dog, as recommended by your veterinarian. There are some great holistic foods that are loaded with anti-oxidants to help fight off the effects of free radicals too. Some vets may recommend a diet rich in cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts and broccoli to boost the vitamin content in Angie's diet. You can puree the vegetables and make adjustments to suit Angie's taste. Avoid feeding Angie the junk food that you regularly consume.

Realize that certain breeds will be more prone to cancer. Unfortunately, golden retrievers are almost twice as likely to die of cancer than any other breed. It is thought that breeding is part of the problem. The purebred's genes become more concentrated with each successive generation. Since only select dogs are bred, it is possible that certain so-called "desirable" genes are also linked to less desirable traits - such as the predisposition to cancer. Unfortunately, since cancer usually develops beyond the breeding age of the dog, it is very difficult to control for this trait.

Malignant melanoma is likely related to skin damage from the sun, but other factors can play a significant role in any dog's chances for developing cancer. To keep Angie healthy and to reduce her chances of developing cancer, feed her a healthy, balanced diet. Get her plenty of exercise and ensure that she does not spend too much time in the hot sun.

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