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Purdue hopes dog cancer research will help with future treatments for humans and animals

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Posted at 1:40 PM, Nov 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-19 13:40:39-05

WEST LAFAYETTE — Purdue University is hoping their research on bladder cancer in Scottish Terriers will help to better treat the disease in dogs and humans.

Dr. Deborah Knapp, a distinguished professor in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, says bladder cancer is a serious disease and Scottish terriers are 20 times more likely to develop it than other breeds of dogs.

"When dogs develop bladder cancer, it's really, really similar to high grade, invasive bladder cancer in humans," Knapp said. "When we learn information from dogs, we can learn information that we expect to help humans."

The research gave Knapp and others an opportunity to learn about the genetics that can increase the risk of bladder cancer while studying the cancer in its earliest stages.

Instead of waiting for the dogs to develop cancer, a group of Scottish Terriers was screened, even when they had no symptoms, every six months for three years.

"That enabled us to find earlier stages of the cancer — when it was small, when the dogs had no symptoms, when it wasn't yet causing any bladder dysfunction, it hadn't spread," Knapp said.

Researchers were able to see how the cancer developed and responded to treatment.

To reduce your dog's risk of bladder cancer, Knapp suggests avoiding lawn chemicals and cigarette smoke, feeding your dog vegetables, keeping them at a healthy weight and doing routine screenings.