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Top Ten Signs of Cancer in Pets

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Cancer is the #1 Disease-Related Killer of Pets

Many people do not realize that cancer is not just a human condition; it affects our pets as well. In fact, cancer is the number one disease-related killer of dogs and cats. According to Dr. Lorie Huston, she tells her clients to be on the lookout for the following signs. While these symptoms are not purely indicative of cancer, if a pet begins to exhibit them you should visit your veterinarian immediately. Just like with people, the earlier cancer is caught the better.

#10 Lumps and Bumps

Not all lumps and bumps on or under your dog or cat’s skin will be cancerous, but there is no way to know for sure without getting your veterinarian involved – this is especially important if the lump is not resolving itself or is growing in size. A needle biopsy is commonly done and a veterinary pathologist can let you know if the cells are cancerous or not.

#9 Abnormal Odors

Offensive odors from your dog or cat’s mouth, ears, or any other part of your pet’s body, should be checked out. Oftentimes cancers of the mouth, nose, or anal regions can cause such foul odors.

#8 Abnormal Discharges

Blood, pus, vomiting, diarrhea, or any other abnormal substance being discharged from any part of your pet’s body should be checked out by your veterinarian. In addition to that, if your dog or cat’s abdomen becomes bloated or distended it could be a sign of an accumulation of abnormal discharge within the body.

#7 Non-Healing Wounds

If your pet has wounds or sores that are not healing, it could be a sign of infection, skin disease, or even cancer.

#6 Weight Loss

Cancer is among the list of diseases that can cause weight loss in a pet. If you notice sudden weight loss in your dog or cat (and it is not currently on a diet), along with other signs from this list, be sure to mention it to your veterinarian.

#5 Change in Appetite

Dogs and cats do not stop eating without a cause. While a lack of appetite does not automatically indicate cancer, it is still something to be discussed with your veterinarian. Oral tumors can also cause difficulty or pain when eating or swallowing.

#4 Coughing or Difficulty Breathing

Coughing or abnormal breathing can be caused by heart disease, lung disease, and also cancer. Cancer can metastasize through the lungs and cause these symptoms.

#3 Lethargy or Depression

If you notice your pet is not acting like itself – sleeping more, less playful, less willing to go on walks or to exercise – this can also be a sign of cancer. Once again, lethargy or depression is not a symptom confined to cancer, but an accumulation of any of these signs is reason enough to speak with your veterinarian.

#2 Changes in Bathroom Habits

Changes in your pet’s urinary or bowel habits – difficulty using the bathroom, frequent bathroom use, blood in urine or stool – these are all potential signs of cancer.

#1 Evidence of Pain

Limping or other evidence of pain while the pet is walking, running, or jumping is mostly associated with arthritic issues or joint or muscle diseases, but it can also be a sign of cancer (especially cancer of the bone).

 

To learn more: The AVMA's Cancer in Animals brochure has more information and links on cancer in pets, as well as guidelines for veterinary hospice care.

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