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Signs of Cancer in a Dog

Dogs tend to face various health issues, especially as they age. Common health issues affecting pets include arthritis, organ problems, cognitive decline, and cancer. Studies suggest that one in four dogs will get cancer. 


The disease affects almost 50 percent of canines over the age of 10. It is the leading cause of death among senior dogs. Watching your pet will help detect symptoms that can point to cancer. 


Understanding Cancer in Dogs 


Cancer is the growth or development of abnormal cells in the body. The cells often spread, moving throughout the body and destroying normal tissues. There are different types of cancer, and symptoms vary depending on the location and type of the illness. 

Monitoring your pet’s overall health and consulting your veterinarian if you notice anything amiss is vital. Look for both physical signs and abnormal behavior. 


Signs of Cancer in Dogs


Common signs and symptoms of cancer include:


  • Unusual growths, lumps, or bumps appearing anywhere on the body

  • Loss of appetite, difficulty swallowing, or drastic weight loss

  • Open wounds or sores that fail to heal

  • Bleeding or discharge from openings, including the mouth, nostril, or anus

  • Foul odors caused by tumors in the anus, mouth, or nose

  • Issues with mobility, such as stiffness or limping

  • Lack of interest in play or exercise due to reduced energy or stamina

  • Difficulty breathing or constant wheezing

  • Difficulty urinating or passing stool


While the signs may not necessarily indicate that your dog has cancer, it is vital to take them to the vet. They could indicate other illnesses or conditions, but it is better to be safe than sorry. Early diagnosis can help ensure your pet receives life-saving treatment. 


Diagnosing Canine Cancer 

If you notice signs that your pooch may have cancer, take them to the vet immediately. The vet will carry out a diagnosis to determine the dog’s condition. A complete wellness check is conducted. 


Apart from a physical examination, it will include bloodwork and urinalysis. The tests allow the vet to assess organ function and rule out other illnesses. A CT scan or ultrasound helps check the size and position of the tumor. A sample of the tissue is extracted for microscopic examination (biopsy). 


Treatment for Canine Cancer 


Examining the cancerous tissue helps in determining the best treatment. The veterinary oncologist may recommend surgery, chemotherapy, or radiotherapy if your dog has cancer. The treatment prescribed will depend on the dog’s condition, stage, or type of cancer. 

Surgery is an effective cancer cure. But while surgery can remove tumors, it is not the best treatment for all cancers. If microscopic fingers are present, the dog may require chemotherapy or radiation. 


Caring for Your Dog


Caring for your dog after cancer treatment will help keep them comfortable. Side effects vary, but your pet will require rest after surgery. Side effects from radiation are temporary and usually include discomfort and soreness on the treatment site. Side effects from chemotherapy are milder in dogs than in humans, with most dogs experiencing very few issues. 


If your dog is diagnosed with cancer, talk to your vet about alternative therapies. Your pet can maintain a high quality of life while battling the condition. 


For more on signs of cancer in a dog, contact Eastern Animal Hospital at our Baltimore, Maryland office. Call 410-633-8808 to schedule an appointment today.

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