Cancer is quickly become a growing epidemic among man’s four-legged friends. According to the National Canine Cancer Foundation, one in every three dogs suffers from some sort of cancer.
Unlike humans, animals are unable to effectively voice feelings of discomfort. Therefore, they rely largely on the attentiveness of their owner to help them overcome illnesses.
Learning your dog has cancer is, a “nightmare” for any pet owner. However, knowing what you’re up against can put you at an advantage. In this post we’ll discuss 10 signs that could help you determine if your dog has cancer. But first let us first take a look at what causes cancer in dogs.
What Causes Cancer?
“Where did I go wrong?” It certainly makes sense that you would ask yourself this question after learning that your dog has cancer. Unfortunately, this is not such a simple question to address.
Certain breeds of dogs may be more susceptible to cancer than others. Check with your veterinarian on whether your dog is more susceptible.
There are also a number of other factors contributing to the presence of cancer in companion animals.
Some of these include:
- Age– the older the dog, the better the chances are that he will develop cancer
- Environmental factors; sunlight; toxins from the ground, water, and air (such as harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke).
- Processed manufactured pet foods with limited cancer fighting nutrients- colored dyes, preservatives and other chemicals found in pet food can be extremely dangerous
- Neutering of the animal
- Poor immune system and inflammatory conditions such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).
- Viruses. E.g. feline leukemia virus in cats
As with human beings, there are still a lot of unanswered questions about cancer in dogs. Treatment will become much easier as we learn more about what causes cancer in pets. For now, monitoring your companion closely is one of the best ways to avert the negative effects of cancer.
10 Signs Your pet may Have Cancer
Abnormal Lumps, Swellings or Bumps
This is not to say that you should start overreacting at the sight of any lump on your animal companion. Not every bump, lump, or swelling is cancerous. However, if it’s growing or not resolving itself, then it’s always best to consult with your veterinarian. “Better safe than sorry.” The vet will be able to conduct a biopsy to determine if the swelling is cancerous.
A swollen or bloated stomach can also be a sign of cancer.
Cuts and Sores That Won’t Heal
Cuts and sores will normally heal within 7-10 days depending on the extent of the injury. However, if the dog has a skin disease, infection, or cancer, then this could delay or prevent healing. In these instances it’s best to visit a vet; especially if there is no improvement in the wound after applying an ointment or administering oral antibiotics.
A sudden change in appetite or weight loss can always almost be interpreted negatively. Weight loss remains the number one symptom of cancer and it is often times an indicator a gastrointestinal tumor. In fact, many dogs with gastrointestinal tumors often stop eating all together and thus experience extreme weight loss.
It’s important that you contact your vet immediately if your pet is experiencing rapid weight loss.
Changes In Appetite
A change in appetite is often accompanied by weight loss, which was mentioned above. Oral tumors can make it difficult for pets to swallow and reduce their urge to eat. If you notice changes in your dog’s appetite then seek medical care for them immediately.
Problems Breathing and Coughing
Similar to humans, abnormal breathing and or coughing can be linked to lung or heart disease. Metastasizing cancer cells in these organs is oftentimes accompanied by these symptoms.
In many cases seizures in dogs are associated with brain tumors, especially for older animals. Some signs of seizures include jerking of the legs, unusual chewing, sudden bursts of activity, and foaming from the mouth. Contact your vet if you notice any of these signs.
Depression and Lethargy
Having a playful dog is one of the many gifts of being a pet owner. However, illnesses such as cancer in the liver can affect the mood of your animal companion. He/she could become less playful, depressed, lethargic, and spend most of the time sleeping. These symptoms can be linked to any illness that causes discomfort and so it’s always best to contact your vet.
Foul Mouth Odor
Strange foul odors from any part of your dog should cause some concern. In many cases plaque might be the cause of bad breath. However, oral tumors can often manifest as sores or lumps and they are often accompanied by bleeding which can cause foul mouth odors. Therefore, it’s always important to visit a vet if your pet has prolonged extreme bad breath.
Diarrhea and Frequent Vomiting
Any unusual discharge, whether it’s vomiting, bleeding, diarrhea, or pus, should encourage you to visit your vet. Dogs in particular will occasionally vomit or have diarrhea. However, if this happens over a prolonged period then they should get medical attention. PetMD.com has also stated that blood in urine or stool can also be caused by cancerous cells in dogs.
Discharge from the eyes and nose is also a sign of facial tumors and should not be treated lightly.
Stiffness and Difficulty Moving
Your dog could become less active due to stiffness in his legs. If he seems to be unable to move around as much or is in pain while walking, then this could be an indicator of bone cancer. If he shows these symptoms it’s important that you take him to a vet.
Muscle diseases and arthritis are common causes for joint stiffness in animals; however, cancer is also a common culprit.
Be The Best Friend You Can Be
Many of the signs listed above can also be an indicator of other serious diseases. The important thing is to be more interactive with your dog and be on the lookout for irregular behaviors. If you notice any of the signs mentioned earlier then contact a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Even nonspecific behaviors such as the unwillingness to exercise or a sudden loss of energy are simple indicators that something may be wrong. Whatever the case may be, an early diagnosis almost always influences the outcome for the better. Plus in the case of cancer, early treatment is your best bet at winning against the disease.
In addition to looking for the aforementioned signs, you should also practice feeding your dog nutritious foods and give them plenty of exercise. To be sure he is getting everything he needs including antioxidants and enzyme, sprinkle JUVERIN on his food daily. This is will reduce the likelihood of health issues, such as obesity, which might affect your pet’s health.
Sources: National Canine Cancer Foundation, PetMD