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Cancer. Epilepsy. Allergy.



As in humans, cancer is a common disease in our dogs. In fact, it is the biggest reason why our dogs die, along with accidents and trauma. 


Our dogs have been given a higher status and are living longer today. This is thanks to increased veterinary care, good vaccines and a strong focus on better knowledge about feeding dogs. As the dogs get older, the proportion of cancer increases. Cancer is primarily the elderly individual's disease. This is because the immune system weakens as you get older. Therefore, strange and broken cells are allowed to remain and some of these acquire properties that make them cancer cells. In addition, the repair mechanisms in the body deteriorate as we get older and then the proportion of defective and broken cells increases.

Treatment methods

Today, cancer is mainly treated with surgery. It can cure if it is performed on time and if the cancer is not too aggressive. It is important to acquire a good knowledge of which tumor it is before deciding what is appropriate to do. We do this as veterinarians primarily via so-called cytology (cell samples) from the tumor and by performing various forms of imaging (X-ray, ultrasound, computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging). It is important to know as much as possible about the dog's situation and tumor type before deciding on treatment. Otherwise, there is a risk that surgery will be performed on tumors that should not be operated on and where the disease has already spread. This allows the dog to endure unnecessary suffering and it affects quality of life. In addition, it involves unnecessary costs for dog owners and insurance companies.

Other common treatment methods today for cancer in dogs are chemotherapy, radiation therapy and various forms of immunotherapy. The most common goal is to reduce the problem of cancer for the dog and to slow down the deterioration. In veterinary oncology, we often see cancer as a chronic disease, where we want to stabilize the dog and provide as good a quality of life as possible. Since we can not ask the dog ourselves, this is wise. In humans, you are more aggressive, but there you can also decide for yourself which treatments you want. The dog also does not know that it has cancer - which is a big advantage. However, the dog knows that it feels good or bad. Our task is thus to make the dog feel as good as possible!

Ten common signs of cancer in dogs

1. Abnormal swelling that persists for a long time and continues to grow 
2. Wounds that do not heal 
3. Weight loss 
4. Stopped appetite 
5. Bleeding or secretion from body openings 
Bad smell 
7. Difficulty eating or swallowing 
8. Unwilling to move or powerless 
9. Persistent lameness or stiffness 
10. Difficulty breathing, urinating or pooping

Unfortunately, cancer occurs among Cane Corso. Unfortunately, we see both in the large health survey RACC conducted in 2020 and in the statistics presented in the Agria Breed Profile that Cane Corso has a slightly greater risk of developing cancer than the average dog. The main cause of death among our Swedish Cane Corso is disease, where 54% do not specify which disease the dog died of. Then cancerous tumors and then the musculoskeletal system are stated as the reason why the dog was killed or died.


RACC therefore asks all breeders to be extremely observant of the occurrence of cancer and not to use dogs that have, or have had cancer, in their breeding program. RACC further urges breeders not to use dogs whose close relatives have been diagnosed with cancer.



  • Not to use dogs with a cancer diagnosis, including cured cancer, in breeding


Information ten from AniCura: Epileptic seizures can be focal or generalized depending on how much of the brain is involved in the individual seizure. In focal seizures, symptoms are seen only in one part of the body, in generalized seizures the whole body is involved in the seizure.

Some dogs change their behavior just before an attack and then usually become more contact-seeking and a little anxious. The epileptic seizure is characterized by episodic, stereotypical, involuntary movements or behaviors that usually cause increased stiffness and possible twitching / cramps in parts of or the whole body. Many times the dog salivates, urinates or poops during the attack.

Consciousness can, but does not have to be, affected. The seizures usually last 1-2 minutes. Afterwards, the dog may behave anxiously, confused or aggressively. The vast majority of seizures occur in connection with rest or sleep.




Primary, idiopathic, epilepsy

In dogs and humans, the term idiopathic epilepsy has been used to describe an epilepsy syndrome that is thought to have, or definitely has, a definite, genetic cause. Idiopathic epilepsy is the most common cause of epileptic seizures in dogs and usually begins between the ages of one and five. The incidence of epilepsy in dogs is about 1-2% in the entire population. In some breeds, however, the incidence of epilepsy is significantly higher.


Secondary epilepsy

The secondary epileptic seizures occur as a result of diseases or injuries inside the brain (eg brain tumors or skull trauma) or as a result of an external influence on the brain, for example in the event of poisoning or low blood sugar.



There is no diagnosis that determines primary, idiopathic epilepsy, which is a so-called exclusionary diagnosis. The investigation is instead to rule out other diseases in the body or in the nervous system that could cause epileptic seizures.

What characterizes primary epilepsy is that the dog feels well between attacks, and that the neurological examination and the diagnostic examinations performed do not show any abnormalities. It is important that each individual is investigated on the basis of their specific circumstances.

Epilepsy occurs among Cane Corso, but is fortunately not very common; about 3% of our Cane Corso are diagnosed with epilepsy.


Given the serious nature of the disease, the RACC urges breeders of Cane Corso to pay close attention to the occurrence of epilepsy and to avoid using breeding animals where epilepsy occurs in the pedigree or in the individual.



  • Not to use a dog with idiopathic epilepsy in breeding, nor to use a dog where a close relative has been diagnosed with epilepsy


In 2020, RACC conducted a large-scale health survey in the form of a questionnaire. The survey showed that 16% of the respondents' dogs had some form of allergy or skin problem,  which usually debuts at a relatively early age.

Information from Agria & Kerstin Bergvall is one of Sweden's five veterinarians with specialist expertise in dermatology: Allergy to dogs is a skin disease and not hay fever or watery eyes that can be the symptoms of humans, Kerstin explains at a lecture for Agria Breeders Club members.

One-fifth of all dogs that go to the vet today seek help for some form of skin condition.


Having problems with the skin does not have to mean that the dog is allergic, but if it itches, it can be so. Itching lowers the dog's quality of life and therefore it is important to address the problem, says Kerstin.


Ear concerns ordinary signal

Kerstin always starts by asking the owner of a dog who seeks help from her if the dog itches.

I ask if the dog tears, licks, bites or chews somewhere because itching does not just mean tearing with the paws.

Recurrent ear problems are almost always the symptom that an allergy starts with.

Of all allergic dogs, 80-86 percent have ear problems, which is due to the fact that it is the skin in the ears that has the most allergy cells, says Kerstin.


Exclude other causes of skin problems

Other places on the body that are often affected are the paws (between the pads), the face (around the nose and eyes), the groin, the armpits and the tail.

In order to be able to diagnose allergies, other problems that may look like allergies must first be ruled out. Examples of such problems are:

  • Fox scabies

  • Other ectoparasites (fleas, lice and dandruff mites)

  • Skin infections caused by bacteria or yeast


No quick tests

Skin infections often itch and can have many causes. A single skin infection is not strange, but if the infections recur, you should contact your veterinarian to find out what the root cause is. The dogs that still itch when the infection is gone can be allergic, says Kerstin.

When all other possible causes are ruled out, it remains to try to find out what the dog is allergic to.


First feed investigation

I always start with a food investigation which means that the dog must go on a strict diet for eight weeks. Unfortunately, it is not easy, but there are no quick tests that work, says Kerstin.

The protein source in the food should be one that the dog has not eaten before. If it has eaten most things before, you can also choose a special food that has so-called hydrolyzed (decomposed) proteins that the dog can not react to.

The first eight weeks are a clean transport route. Usually you do not get any answers during the diet, but only during the provocation when you give something that the dog has eaten before. If the dog gets worse during the provocation, it means that it is food reactive.

For a food-allergic dog, the treatment of course means that the substance or substances that the dog does not tolerate should be excluded from the diet.


Allergy to airborne substances

If the dog does not get worse from the provocation, it is very likely that it is atopic - allergic to substances in the environment. Then you can go ahead and do a so-called dot test.

In a spot test, various allergens (substances) are injected into the dog's skin and the veterinarian looks for reactions to the various substances. Blood tests can also be helpful in identifying which substances the allergic dog cannot tolerate.

In Sweden, it is most common for dogs to be allergic to dust mites. Other things that an atopic can react to are, for example, pollen and other pets.


Vaccinate against allergies

An atopic person absorbs the substances to which it reacts through the skin, which means that part of the treatment consists of bathing the dog with special shampoo and conditioner.

Conditioner is partly emollient for the skin but also helps to improve the natural protective barrier, says Kerstin.

Nowadays, it is also possible to produce special vaccines against the very substance that the dog does not tolerate, so-called hyposensitization or allergen-specific immunotherapy.

It works by exposing the dog to small amounts of allergens and in this way the dog gradually gets used to these substances. About 60-70 percent of the dogs get well and at least 50 percent better with the help of the vaccine.


Allergy is hereditary

So there is a lot you can do for your dog if he is diagnosed with allergies. You should never let your allergic dog breed because there is a great risk that its puppies will develop allergies.

If both parents are allergic, published studies have shown that there is a 65 percent chance that the offspring will be allergic. If a parent is allergic, the chance is 21-56 percent, says Kerstin.


Some numbers:

  • 80 percent of all Scandinavian dogs with atopy are allergic to dust mites.

  • 40 percent of all atopic dogs also have food reactions.

  • Atopy usually debuts when the dog is between half and three years old.

  • Food reactions can start at any time but most often before the age of one year.


Top list of the foods that in Swedish atopic clinic material have been shown to cause skin problems:

  1. Egg

  2. Chicken

  3. Nut

  4. Pork

  5. Wheat (not gluten - gluten intolerance is a diarrheal disease)

  6. Dairy products 

Information från Evidensa:

Foderallergi, eller AFR (adverse food reaction), är en av de bakomliggande orsakerna till klåda, hudbesvär och magtarmbesvär hos hund. Det går framgångsrikt att behandla när det upptäckts och är därför en viktigt del att undersöka i tidigt skede av en allergiutredning. Oftast uppträder allergi mot hundens mat redan när hunden är ung, men det förekommer även att äldre individer drabbas.


Orsaker till foderallergi

Mycket är ännu okänt om foderallergi/AFR, men man vet att det är flera faktorer som samverkar för att en hund ska bli allergiker. Bland annat finns det en ärftlig komponent, allergi är vanligare i vissa raser än i andra. Den allergiska reaktionen utlöses av proteiner. Kolhydrater, spårämnen etc är alltså inte allergiframkallande, däremot finns det proteiner av både animaliskt och vegetabiliskt ursprung.

En hund med foderallergi kan vara allergisk mot vilket protein som helst som den kommit i kontakt med, men det brukar vara ett protein som hunden har ätit mycket av. De flesta hundfoder är baserade på kyckling, och därför har många foderallergiker utvecklat överkänslighet mot kyckling som proteinkälla. Med tiden kan en foderallergiker reagera på nya proteinkällor, efterhand som den exponeras för dem.


Symtom på foderallergi

Foderallergi/AFR kan ta sig många olika uttryck. Det vanligaste är dock symtom från huden, följt av mag-tarmbesvär:

  • Klåda som inte är säsongsberoende. Klådan kan omfatta hela kroppen, men ofta är bara vissa delar drabbade, däribland ansikte, öron, armhålor eller området kring ändtarmsöppningen. Det är också ganska vanligt att hundar med foderallergi kliar/slickar på benen, tassarna, magens undersida och ljumskarna.

  • Återkommande öroninflammationer.

  • Fukteksem eller andra hudinfektioner.

  • Ibland ses nässelutslag, urtikaria, i nära anslutning till att hunden har ätit något den inte tål. Urtikaria kan komma plötsligt och yttrar sig som svullnader, upphöjningar eller knottror i huden. Det är ett tecken på en allergisk reaktion, som i ovanliga fall kan bli mycket svår.


OBS – om din hund fått snabbt uppkommen ansiktssvullnad bör den snarast tas till veterinär. I värsta fall kan svullnaden påverka hundens andningsvägar, eller vara tecken på begynnande anafylaktisk chock.

  • Symtom på magkatarr såsom kräkning, varierande aptit, att hunden äter mycket gräs, jord etc.

  • Symtom på tarmkatarr som exempelvis lös och/eller slemmig avföring, återkommande diarréer, gasbildning, bullrig ”körig” mage.

  • Eventuellt svårighet att gå upp i vikt.

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