How Much Do You Know about Pet Cancer? Top 10 Warning Signs

April 30th, 2015 by Daniel Mudrick

Cancer. It’s scary. We have all been affected by it; we all know someone who has been afflicted – whether it’s a family member, friend, co-worker, acquaintance, or even ourselves.

As much as we know about human cancer, how much do we really know about pet cancer?

Pet Cancer: Did You Know?

  • Cancer is the leading cause of death for older dogs and cats
  • Cancer causes almost 50% of pet deaths each year
  • 1 in 4 dogs will develop cancer in their lifetime
  • 1 in 5 cats will develop cancer in their lifetime
  • Causes of pet cancer are unknown; however, some breeds may have a greater chance of developing certain types of cancers
  • Pet cancer and human cancer are essentially the same disease
  • In pets diagnosed with cancer, proper nutrition is essential for improving quality of life and reducing the likelihood of complications

The first thing you should know is that if your pet is diagnosed with cancer, it does not have to be a death sentence! Talk to your veterinarian about your options and make an informed decision about your pet’s healthcare. You may be able to keep your pet comfortable and happy for many years yet, despite the cancer.

Top 10 Warning Signs of Pet Cancer

  1. Swollen Lymph Nodes: Lymph nodes are present throughout the body, but you can usually feel them behind your pet’s jaw or knee. If they’re enlarged, it could mean your pet has lymphoma (a common cancer).
  2. Growing or Changing Lump: Find a bump or lump on your pet’s body? Not all lumps and bumps are cancerous, but you should definitely get it checked out by a veterinarian right away.
  3. Abdominal Distension: If your pet’s belly is strangely enlarged or hard, they could have a tumour or bleeding in the stomach.
  4. Chronic Weight Loss or Appetite Loss: If you haven’t put your pet on a diet and you notice they’re losing a lot of weight, it’s a clear indication that something is wrong. It could be cancer or a wide variety of other conditions.
  5. Chronic Vomiting or Diarrhea: Like unexplained weight loss, chronic vomiting and diarrhea are cause for a check-up. If you notice this symptom, abdominal distension may also be present.
  6. Unexplained Bleeding or Open Sores: This is pretty straightforward – if your pet is bleeding, find out why. Watch out for bleeding from the mouth and gums, the nose, in their urine or stool, or from open sores that don’t heal properly.
  7. Coughing and Respiratory Problems: Dry coughing, wheezing, or shortness of breath – especially in older pets – can be a sign of lung cancer.
  8. Lameness: Unexplained lameness is a symptom of bone cancer. Bone cancer is particularly common in large and giant dog breeds.
  9. Difficulty or Straining when Urinating: While this could be a urinary tract infection, in some cases difficulty urinating is caused by bladder cancer.
  10. Oral Odour (Bad Breath): “Dog breath” is never “normal”! If your cat or dog has bad breath, it could be dental issue, or it could be a symptom of an internal condition like cancer.

If you notice any of these symptoms, something is wrong with your pet. Whether the health problem is cancer or not, the sooner your pet is diagnosed, the sooner they can receive treatment … and the better their outlook will be (whatever the illness).

>> If your pet is displaying any of the cancer warning signs, don’t panic. These symptoms can be caused by many things besides cancer. Make an appointment with us right away to get your pet diagnosed.

Pet health emergency? We are always open, with a vet on-site 24/7 (and never just “on call”). Call us now at 905-855-2100.

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About Daniel Mudrick

I'm the owner and founder of Clarkson Village Animal Hospital, a state-of-the-art veterinary hospital that's open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Clarkson Village Animal Hospital has always been a dream of mine, and by caring for one patient at a time, the hospital has continued to grow. During those rare times when I'm not at the hospital, I'm at yoga, hiking, gardening, and spending time with my family. I also enjoy reading to stay current on the most recent advances in veterinary medicine.

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