Cancer is one of the leading cause of natural death among dogs. According to veterinary oncologist Dave Ruslander, 50% of dogs over age 10 will likely develop a form of cancer. This is because as the canine body ages, it becomes more susceptible to disease. Learn the early signs of canine cancer to keep your dog as healthy as possible for as long as possible. Consult your vet with your pet if you suspect any problem.
Early Warning Signs of Canine Cancer
- Wounds that refuses to heal
Persistent wounds can be signs of abnormal cell growth in the system of your four-legged companion. A small wound or lesion should heal over time. If your pet has a recurring lesion or wound that just won’t heal, see you vet immediately.
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- Tumors and mysterious swellings
Tumors don’t always mean cancer. As dogs age, they are more likely to develop fatty deposits and other nonthreatening lumps. But some growths can be malignant, and tumors can signal skin cancer, mammary cancer, and other types of disease.
Perform a monthly “lump check” to keep track of your dog’s lumps and bumps. This is especially important for older dogs who develop benign growths all the time. With practice, you’ll probably learn to tell the difference between a benign fatty deposit and a more concerning growth. Check with your vet if a new lump or bump develops.
- Abnormal discharge or bleeding
Alarm bells should be ringing once you notice abnormal discharge or bleeding anywhere on the body. However, this dog cancer symptom is most visible on the face. Funky eye discharge or a sudden bloody nose can indicate certain types of eye and skin cancers. Also, sores and bleeding in the mouth can be a sign of oral tumors, which often go unnoticed because people assume the discharge and odor is a normal sign of aging.
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As dogs age, they begin to slow down, you may notice lack of energy. However, a sudden, unexplained lack of lethargy can be a sign of illness.
Lethargy is different from plain old tiredness in that it alters your dog’s enthusiasm level. They may suddenly lose interest in a favorite toy or activity, or fail to get up and greet you when you come home from work. Other signs of lethargy may include excessive sleep and delayed responses to visual and auditory stimuli.
Lethargy is a general symptom of a broad range of issues, so it doesn’t automatically point to cancer. But if your dog becomes less active, then something may be wrong.
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- Unusual poop
You see your dog’s poop every day. So you should be able to know the difference between a normal and an abnormal poop. Persistent diarrhea, hardened stools, and straining can all be symptoms of illness. If you’re concerned about something in your dog’s output, don’t hesitate to call the vet.
- Difficulty breathing
One of the most common signs of illness or injury is when normal bodily functions becomes painful. If your dog is having difficulty breathing or seems to be uncomfortable in the course of normal activities, don’t hesitate to have her checked out. Sudden, extreme discomfort or pain are important warning signs.
- Rapid, unexplained weight loss or gain
If your dog begins losing weight rapidly, whether their appetite remains same or changes, contact your vet immediately. Weight loss is a particularly common sign of canine cancer, and may indicate a gastrointestinal tumor. Sudden weight gain or bloating can also be a sign of cancer.
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- Sudden lameness
Unlike the literal definition, lameness a change in your dog’s regular step. It may present as tenderness and subtle pain, limping or favoring a limb, or the inability to place any weight on the limb in severe cases. Lameness can be an indication of bone cancer, particularly in older dogs.
You don’t need to panic about every little hitch in your dog’s step, but sudden, persistent lameness should be evaluated by a vet.