10 Signs of Cancer in Dogs

1. Abnormal swellings that persist or continue to grow
The most obvious sign is a mass (or bump, or lump) that keeps growing under the skin. Any surgeon will recommend that you don’t just “watch it,” but have it removed AND biopsied. If the mass turns out to be benign, that’s great. If it is malignant or cancerous, then at least we know and can discuss what to do next.
2. Sores that do not heal
These sores are typically skin wounds that don’t seem to heal despite antibiotics by mouth or an ointment applied locally. This also applies to no-healing wounds near a nail.
3. Weight loss
This means unexplained weight loss that can’t be explained by a weight-loss diet. Common causes could include a tumor along the intestine, as in Missy’s case.
4. Loss of appetite
Similarly, a mass pushing along the intestines may make your dog feel bad. One of the first things a pet will then do, is stop eating.
5. Difficulty eating or swallowing
A lump in the neck could be putting pressure on the esophagus (the tube between the mouth and the stomach).
6. Bleeding or discharge from any body opening
Although bleeding from the nose does not necessarily mean cancer, is certainly a common sign of cancer of the nose.
7. Offensive odor
I remember a sweet Bulldog we recently treated. She had a large mass near her anus. Biopsies showed that it was cancer. The odor stemmed from multiple draining tracts from which pus came out. A culture showed that 4 different bacteria were growing in there!
8. Reluctance to exercise or loss of stamina
We recently saw a 9-year-old Rottweiler who had a tumor on the heart. Because of the bleeding and the pressure on the heart, he certainly did have difficulty exercising.
9. Persistent lameness or stiffness
We see lame pets every single day, but luckily they rarely have cancer! However, bone cancer can cause pain and lameness, along with swelling along the leg.
10. Difficulty breathing, urinating or defecating
This could be due to a mass putting pressure on the respiratory system (wind pipe, lung), urinary system (bladder, urethra) or digestive system (rectum, anus).
Again, early detection is paramount. While there is no reason to be paranoid, stay informed, keep your eyes open, pet your dog all over and often, and see your family veterinarian regularly for checkups. Whether to detect cancer or any other condition, these are pretty safe recommendations to keep your pet happy and healthy for a long time!
Dr. Phil Zeltzman, DVM , DACVS, CVJ, is a mobile, board-certified surgeon near Allentown, PA. Visit his website at www.DrPhilZeltzman.com.
If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian – they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.

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