Dogs commonly get cancer. Cancer is a disease that is characterized by a group of cells that grow to invade and destroy adjacent tissues. It may also spread to distant areas through a process called metastasis.
Cancer can occur in the skin, under the skin and affect just about any location or organ in the body.
There are also several types of cancer that is possible at each location. The signs of cancer vary with the location and type of cancer. The aggressiveness of the cancer will depend on the type of cancer, the location and the individual pet.
Some common warning signs of cancer may include:
1. Lump or growth that grows quickly
2. A firm mass or a mass that seems attached to the underlying tissue
3. A pigmented mass or a mass that changes its character
4. A sore or wound that does not heal
5. Difficulty eating or swallowing
6. Weight loss or loss of appetite
7. Repeated vomiting – especially in an older pets
8. Coughing or difficult/labored breathing
9. Bloody urine or difficulty urinating
10. Persistent lameness
11. Lethargy or a decreased energy level
12. Straining or difficulty defecating
These are a few of the most common warning signs.
These may occur anywhere on the body or face. If the lump feels hard and seems to grow rapidly, this could be an indicator of cancer. A veterinarian will perform a needle biopsy to make a diagnosis. Often, these lumps are fatty tumors and no treatment is required.
Inability to Heal Quickly
If the dog has an open sore that doesn’t heal within a reasonable time, canine cancer may be suspected. With this disease, the immune system becomes weakened, and the body is not able to heal quickly.
Loss of Appetite
In canine cancer, the dog’s normal bodily functions may be suppressed or compromised. A loss of appetite may result, depending on the location of the cancerous cells. If the cancer is affecting any part of the digestive tract, this will be a primary symptom. If the cancer is in the bone or skin tissue, loss of appetite may occur in the latter stages of the disease as the body becomes severely weakened and is unable to recognize the need to eat.
While weight loss will naturally accompany a decreased appetite, a symptom of canine cancer is unexplained weight loss. In this situation, the dog may eat normally or may even be hungrier than usual, yet will lose weight. Depending on the type of cancer, normal metabolism may be affected, thereby burning calories inefficiently and leading to weight loss and weakness.
Although this sign is present in arthritis or muscle sprains, if the dog has difficulty walking or getting up from a prone position, bone cancer is a possibility. This type of cancer is fairly common, but the prognosis is usually poor.
If the dog is excessively sneezing or coughing, cancer may be present in the respiratory tract. Because dogs spend a lot of time sniffing the ground, they are more susceptible to cancer of the respiratory system, particularly the sinus cavity. This occurs from inhaling carcinogens from herbicides, pesticides and other dangerous substances.
Because cancer can affect almost any organ or body system, the signs of cancer can include just about anything. For example, if the cancer involves a bone, some animals will be lame. If the cancer involves the skin, you may feel a mass. If the cancer involves the intestine, some pets will exhibit signs related to the intestinal tract such as not wanting to eat, loosing weight, vomiting, diarrhea or abdominal pain.
If your dog has any of these problems or you have any other concerns, please visit your veterinarian for a complete examination.