418 – Cancer: Genetics, Environment or Both? Study Seeks Answers

Cancer_ Genetics, Environment or Both_

Lori Cesario DVM DACVIM (Oncology), Owner, Canine Cancer Academy joins host Laura Reeves in a conversation about Cancer in dogs. Cesario breaks down what we know and what we don’t know about cancers, genetic basis, environmental triggers and more.

“I would say that we don’t know more than we know, unfortunately,” Cesario said. “I always feel like I leave people wanting a lot more when I have clients ask me why their dog developed cancer. Hopefully that will change. A lot of smart people are working really hard to find more information.

“The big picture is typically no one thing is going to 100% cause cancer in any one dog or person. So we’re looking for risk factors. So does your dog being a certain breed increase risk for developing a certain type of cancer? Or does a certain environmental component increase his or her risk for developing a certain cancer. In people we have some information about certain diets or components of diet increasing certain types of cancers. We’re really lacking a lot of that information in veterinary medicine.”

Cesario notes an important and wide-ranging study of Golden Retrievers that is seeking to answer some of these questions.

“The Morris Animal Foundation is running this study … they have 3,044 Golden retrievers participating and the goal is really to follow these thousands of Golden retrievers over their entire lifetime and get really an exhaustive amount of information. From what is going on in their environment, with their diet, with their genetics, to really determine what nutritional genetic, environmental factors contribute to cancer and other diseases.

“Not only are they doing routine physical exams, not only are they collecting blood and hair and toenail samples on a regular basis, but they are asking the family questions like does your dog live with a smoker? Do you have carpet or hardwood floors? What does your dog eat? Does it eat vegetables? What type of vegetables? OK bell Peppers, what color Bell Peppers? How many Peppers? Does your dog swim in the pool? In a pond? At the beach? In the ocean?

“So, they’re getting as much information as possible and then they’re banking all of this data and other researchers can use the data. Then over time they’re finding out which of these dogs develop certain diseases which don’t. We know that up to 65% of goldens will die of cancer, unfortunately, so they decided to run a parallel study called the Golden Oldies study. They are currently recruiting dogs. So basically, they’re looking for Golden Retrievers, purebred ideally, AKC registered better, 12 years old or older that don’t have cancer currently that have never had cancer.”

The link for the Golden Oldies study:


Additional Resources from Dr. Cesario:

Blog article:

Dog Breeds and Their Associated Cancers

My Podcast: Your Dog Wants You To Know This!

Website Link



Pure Dog Talk is grateful to all of the mentors in our sport who support us with their knowledge, their kindness and their generosity. JOIN us today in providing access to this invaluable “watering hole” for anyone who is thirsty for knowledge. Your pledge of as little as $5/month helps guide the next generation of dog fanciers. Click the “Be My Patron on Podbean” button to join our “listener supported” team at Pure Dog Talk.





Leave a Comment