- PET HEALTH HIGHLIGHTS -
Cancer in Dogs
It's a dreaded diagnosis that no one wants to hear, be it human or canine - Cancer. Unfor-
tunately, it is quite a common one with dogs. In fact, the National Canine Cancer Foundation
states that one in three dogs will develop some form of cancer in its lifetime, mostly in the se-
nior years, although it can occur at any age. Certain breeds are more susceptible to it, as well,
such as Great Danes, Golden Retrievers, Boxers, Saint Bernards, and Boston Terriers. There
are nearly 100 types of animal cancer, found in the skin, bones, breast, head and neck, lymph
system, abdomen, and testicles. The key, as with any disease, is to catch it early. Early detection
is paramount for a dog's successful treatment and recovery. Here are important warning signs
to watch out for that could signal cancer in your dog:
1) Lumps, masses, or abnormal swellings: If you find a lump or mass on your dog, it doesn't
necessarily indicate cancer, but it's good to get it checked out by your veterinarian ASAP.
2) Weight loss/Loss of appetite: What dog doesn't like to eat? A lack of appetite or weight loss
is a worrisome symptom.
3) Problems urinating or defecating: Changes in bowel habits, like difficulty going or more
frequent movements, and blood in urine or stool, should be checked by a veterinarian.
4) Difficulty eating or swallowing: Oral tumors can specifically cause pain when eating.
5) Offensive odor: Cancers of the mouth, nose, or anus usually cause foul smells.
6) Sores that don't heal: May be an infection or skin disease, but could also indicate cancer.
7) Lethargy, depression, or loss of stamina: If your dog is sleeping more than usual, isn't in-
terested in playing, or doesn't want to go for walks anymore, it is reason for concern. It could
be caused by other conditions, but cancer should be ruled out.
8) Difficulty breathing or coughing: If cancer metastisizes through the lungs, abnormal
breathing and coughing could occur.
9) Persistent lameness, limping, or stiffness: If walking, running, or jumping causes pain for
your pet, it is most likely arthritis or joint and muscle disease, but it could be bone cancer.
10) Abnormal discharges: Vomiting, diarrhea, blood, and pus should be checked by your vet.
A distended abdomen can also be indicative of abnormal internal discharge.
If your dog has been diagnosed with cancer, it is always a good idea to get a second opin-
ion. A board-certified veterinary oncologist would be
helpful with that, as well as discussing treatment op-
tions for your pet. Some cancers can be cured with a
combination of treatments, in much the same way as it
is with humans, with surgery, chemotherapy, radiation,
and immunotherapy. Some people opt for no treatment
at all, preferring instead to use palliative care (pain
management) throughout the duration of the disease.
Pawsitively Pets --