Many dog owners see their pets as a part of their family, and when their furry family member is diagnosed with cancer, it can be devastating.  But thanks to a cancer drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat dogs, fewer pets and their families are likely to suffer.

The drug, marketed by pharmaceutical company Pfizer (Stock Quote: PFE) under the brand name Palladia, is specifically meant to treat canine mast cell tumors of the skin, which accounts for about one in five cases of canine skin tumors, according to the FDA.

Before the drug was approved, cancer treatments tested on animals were only approved by the FDA for use in humans, not pets. 

"This cancer drug approval for dogs is an important step forward for veterinary medicine," said Dr. Bernadette Dunham, director of the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine in a press release. "Prior to this approval, veterinarians had to rely on human oncology drugs, without knowledge of how safe or effective they would be for dogs. Today's approval offers dog owners, in consultation with their veterinarian, an option for treatment of their dog's cancer," Dunham said.

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