Over the years, you and your dog have built up a special kind of bond, and maybe you’ve even become each other’s best friend. When it comes to common signs of cancer in dogs, though, you might not know what to look for. If you want to keep your furry family member happy and healthy for as long as possible, it’s important to understand some basic signs of cancer that dog owners should never ignore.
Lump or mass
A lump or mass is an abnormal growth of tissue. It doesn’t matter how large it is—even a small lump can be a sign of cancer. Lumps can be cancerous (malignant) or noncancerous (benign).
- A malignant lump feels firm, hard and immovable. If your dog has a malignant mass, you may notice that he does not want to put any weight on that leg or paw because it hurts him when he does so. If left untreated, these lumps usually grow quickly and become painful for your pet before they are surgically removed by your veterinarian.
- Benign masses that are not painful are soft and movable; they do not affect your dog’s health in any way and will not cause him pain unless there is pressure on them from surrounding structures such as bones or muscles.
If your dog has a nonhealing sore, it is important to bring your pet to the veterinarian immediately as this is one of the most common signs of cancer in dogs.
Sores may be painful, red and swollen. They may also be draining or have a scab on them. The size of the sore can vary from smaller than a dime to larger than a quarter. A lump under the skin may indicate cancerous tissue growth (although other causes exist), while a firm mass beneath the surface may indicate an abscess or tumor that has developed from infection. If your dog has fluid-filled sacs in several areas of his body at once, he could have lymphoma (tumor affecting white blood cells).
Swelling is a sign of inflammation, which is a common reaction to cancer. However, swelling can also be caused by infections, trauma and injuries. Swelling may even be an autoimmune disease like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.
Weight loss is a common symptom of cancer. It can also be a sign of other diseases, so don’t assume that if your dog is losing weight, it’s cancer. If you notice your dog’s body becoming thinner or its stomach getting smaller, immediately schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to determine the cause.
While weight loss is not always a sign of cancer, it’s still worth mentioning because it’s one of the most common symptoms pet owners report to veterinarians when they suspect their pets have the disease.
Loss of appetite
If you notice your dog is not eating, it’s important to see the vet immediately. This can be a sign of cancer or other illnesses.
It is important to note that there are many reasons why a dog may lose its appetite and this does not necessarily mean it has cancer. However, if your dog suddenly stops eating for more than two days and becomes lethargic, then this should be taken seriously and you should seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Bleeding or discharge from any body opening
If you notice blood or discharge from your dog’s eyes, nose, mouth, vagina, or rectum, take her to the vet immediately. The bleeding may be internal and so serious that you need to get help right away. Blood in the stool or urine is also a sign of cancer or another health condition (like liver disease).
If you’re not sure whether what you see is just normal “dog stuff,” call your vet before taking action. He can confirm whether it’s something worth worrying about and advise on treatment options if needed.
Your dog’s breath smells bad. If your dog’s breath smells like sulfur, rotten eggs or rotting fruit, it could be a sign of cancer.
Your dog’s smell is different. Your dog may smell like urine, feces or rotten flesh if they have cancer. This is because tumors release chemicals that affect their skin and body odor as well as their appetite and behavior.
Difficulty eating or swallowing
Your dog may be having difficulty eating because he is losing his sense of taste, has difficulty swallowing and/or feels pain when he eats. The most common cause for these issues is esophageal cancer, which attacks the esophagus (the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach). Other possible causes include mouth cancer, throat cancer or laryngeal cancer.
Hesitation to exercise or loss of stamina
- The first sign of cancer is often a subtle change in your dog’s behavior. Cancer doesn’t always cause sudden symptoms like a broken bone or bleeding gums. Instead, it often causes gradual changes that go unnoticed until they become more noticeable over time. For example, if your dog has been losing stamina while going on walks, you might not think anything of it at first because he’s never had trouble before. It’s only when the loss goes on for months or even years that you might suspect something else could be wrong with him.
- If your dog is having difficulty breathing or panting excessively after exercise or during routine activities (like walking to the mailbox), then he may have lung cancer.
- If your dog seems weak and tired all the time yet does not recover after rest, this may indicate heart disease.
Persistent lameness or stiffness
It’s important to take your dog to the vet if they have any of these signs:
- Signs of pain, such as limping, reluctance to walk and favoring a limb. Pain can be due to inflammation, neurological problems (for example, spinal cord disease), joint problems (arthritis) or bone problems (bone cancer).
- Signs of inflammation where your pet is experiencing pain such as swelling, redness and warmth over their affected area. This could indicate arthritis or infection.
- Neurological issues like paralysis caused by nerve damage from cancer that has spread through your pet’s body from somewhere else on the body (metastasis). The best way to check for this is by taking him/her out for a walk; if he/she seems unable to move properly then it might be worth checking them for other symptoms too!
Difficulty breathing, urinating, or defecating
If your dog is having trouble breathing, he may be suffering from a respiratory condition such as pneumonia. If the problem persists, it’s best to consult with a veterinarian so that the underlying cause can be diagnosed and treated.
If your dog seems to have difficulty urinating or defecating, it could mean that he has an obstruction in his urinary tract or gastrointestinal tract respectively. Regardless of the cause of these problems, if they persist for more than 24 hours (for example) then you should take him to see your vet immediately.
If you notice any of these signs in your dog, take him to the vet.
In the event that you notice any of these signs in your dog, or that a friend notices them in their dog, it’s important to take them to the vet.
The first thing you can do is observe how often they occur. If it happens once or twice, it could be nothing and will likely go away on its own. However, if you notice that this particular symptom has been recurring for weeks at a time, then it’s time to make an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Your vet will conduct an examination of the lump while asking questions about where and how often these lumps are appearing on your pooch’s body. This will help them determine if any further testing needs to be done (such as an ultrasound) before confirming whether or not there is actually anything wrong with Fido’s lymphatic system–and hopefully figuring out what kind of condition he has before he gets worse!
So what can we do? First and foremost, pay attention to your pooch! If you notice any of these signs in your dog, take him to the vet. That’s where I’ll leave you—if I can help in any other way, please let me know!