Warning Signs of Cancer in Dogs
There are many signs of cancer in dogs. Most of these signs are known as “non-specific”, meaning they may be present in a variety of disease processes and not specific to cancer. For example, increased drinking and urination may be a sign of cancer but also present with kidney disease or diabetes. If your pet is exhibiting any of these signs, the best plan is to see your vet. He or she will gather a complete medical history, perform a full physical exam and develop a plan for diagnosis. In this article, you can learn about some of these non-specific signs of cancer and what they may mean for your pet.
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Non-Specific Signs of Cancer in Dogs
1. Lumps or Swellings
A new lump or swelling should always be brought to the attention of your vet, especially if the size is increasing, if the lump appears to grow and shrink, or your pet seems painful. Many swellings and lumps are non-cancerous. They can also be associated with allergic reactions, infections, or trauma.
2. Weight Loss
There are many causes of weight loss in our pets. Intestinal parasites, metabolic or endocrine disease, and underfeeding are just a few causes. Alert your vet about any unexplained weight loss in your pet.
3. Non-Healing Wounds
Wounds lasting more than a few days with no improvement should always be evaluated by your vet. Infection, chronic trauma, or underlying cancer may be the cause.
4. Abnormal Odors
Foul-smelling odors, especially in the mouth or ears, may be an indication of underlying cancer. However, they can also be caused by infection, foreign objects (especially in the ears), or poor oral hygiene leading to gingivitis, plaque, and calculus.
5. Decreased Appetite
A decrease in your pet’s appetite may or may not be a cause for concern. Some dogs will eat smaller amounts of food as the temperature outside increases. Other more worrisome causes include infections, systemic disease, and cancer.
6. Increased Drinking and Urination
An appointment with your vet is a good idea if your pet seems like he or she just can’t drink enough water, is urinating large amounts, or having accidents in the house. These signs may be an indication of a cancerous process but can also be caused by many other diseases such as kidney or liver disease, uterine infections in unspayed female dogs, diabetes, and other endocrine diseases.
Often, limping is seen after a long day playing outside, a result of a muscle strain or sprain, an injured ligament, or a sign of arthritis. However, it can also be a sign of cancer, specifically bone cancer.
When to Contact a Veterinarian
If your pet experiences any of the above symptoms for more than a few days, a trip to your vet is warranted. Cancer is just one of many causes for each of these signs. Your vet will gather a thorough history from you, perform a complete physical exam and formulate a plan of action to provide you with answers as well as peace of mind.
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