What to Look For: Dog Cancer Symptoms

The big “C.” We all know what it means. No pet owner wants to hear the word “cancer” when it comes to their beloved pets. Our pets are like family. We love them but unlike our human family, they can’t tell us directly when something is wrong. Some pets may even try to hide that something is wrong with them from you. But if you can learn some of these dog cancer symptoms, you can help keep your pet comfortable while you decide the best course of action with your veterinarian.

1. Odd Lumps and Bumps

Similar to humans, if you notice an odd bump or lump in your dog’s body or genital region, this could the first warning sign of a larger problem. Not every bump is automatically cancer, some tumors are benign but you cannot leave that up to chance.

2. Change in Appetite

If you notice that your dog has been shying away from their food during normal feeding hours or isn’t eating their usual amount, there could be a problem. Weight loss is usual a secondary symptom. If you notice that your dog is losing weight quickly, seek veterinary attention soon.

3. Change in Behavior

Is your normally playful and energetic dog suddenly lethargic? Is your dog no longer interested in toys or going on walks? Have they become aggressive? Dogs present their health problems most commonly through behavioral changes, so if you notice a major shift, don’t try to brush it off or wait it out.

4. Different Bathroom Behavior

If your dog is having excessive diarrhea, blood in their urine or excrement, is using the bathroom inside the house or is taking a longer than normal amount of time to complete their business, this could be a dog cancer symptom.

Dog Sores5. Open Sores

Often when dogs have an abnormality like a lump or abscess, they will attempt to bite and aggravate the area. This can lead to open sores and if cancer is present, these type of open wounds don’t seem to heal. If you notice a wound on your pet that lasts longer than a few days, bring them to the veterinarian for a consultation.

6. Pale Gums

Gums are one area that veterinarians always observe in pets when they come in for check-ups because they can provide crucial information about a pet’s health. If you notice that your dog has pale gums (usually a very light pink color as opposed to red), that could be a sign of blood loss often contributed to cancer.

7. Lameness and Difficulty Walking

Bone cancer is one of the most common cancers found in dogs and it is often presented through difficulty walking, preferring one leg to the other, sensitivity to touch on the extremities or change in gait.

Image Courtesy UC Davis

Image Courtesy UC Davis

If you notice any of or all of these symptoms, your dog could need veterinary attention, particularly from a clinic with an oncology department. These symptoms are not exclusive to cancer but being on the lookout for these symptoms can lead to an earlier diagnosis and a better chance of recovery, or just making your dog more comfortable.

If you have more questions about pet oncology or would like to make an appointment for your pet, you can contact Metairie Small Animal Hospital at 504-835-4266. We look forward to hearing from you!

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