The leading cause of death in canines is cancer. An estimated 1 in every three dogs develops cancer in their lifetime. The types of cancer in dogs are very similar to those in humans. Some signs of cancer in dogs are, however, different from those in humans. Cancer in dogs manifests itself in various forms like brain cancer, prostate cancer, primary lung cancer, thyroid cancer, lipoma, among others. Dogs become more susceptible to cancer and other diseases as they age so as a dog owner, it is essential to learn how to take special care of your aging dog. Some dog breeds are also more predisposed to certain types of cancers more than others. The biggest stumbling block in dealing with cancer in dogs is that early detection is challenging unless you know the definite signs to check. Dog cancer cannot be detected through blood work, leaving dog owners to look for physical anomalies on their pooches. In this article, we are going to look at the definite signs of cancer that you can look for in your pooch:
1. Loss of appetite
Dogs love meal times a lot. They love snacks even more so if you notice a disinterest towards meals by your dog, then you should have cause for concern. Loss of appetite might be as a result of a tumor pushing up against the dog's intestines. It can also be a result of painful oral cysts that discourage the dog from eating. Although the loss of appetite does not explicitly indicate cancer in dogs, it is essential to have it checked out by a veterinary to be sure.
2. Weight loss
Cancer in dogs is one of the leading causes of weight loss. If you notice rapid weight loss along with other symptoms on this list in your dog, then you may have reason to worry. Cancer-related weight loss is usually a result of gastrointestinal tumors. Gastrointestinal tumors cause dogs to stop eating, and in turn, they end up shedding pounds. It is also possible for a dog with cancer to lose weight even when maintaining its diet. The advisable thing to do is to take your dog to the vet the moment you notice a consistent pattern of weight loss.
3. Unusual discharge
Any unusual discharge on any part of the body is cause for concern. Unusual discharges mainly occur in the eyes and nose. Abnormally runny noses, constant nose bleeds, and unusual eye discharge might be an indication of different types of cancer in dogs like facial and eye cancer. Excessive diarrhea and vomiting may be symptoms of gastrointestinal tumors and should be checked by a veterinary as soon as possible.
4. Mysterious growths and swellings
Lumps and bumps are the initial presumed signs of cancer in dogs. However, there is a misconception that the presence of lumps and bumps always indicates the presence of the disease. Not all growths or swellings are cancerous, but it is advisable to check with the vet to be sure. As dogs age, they develop fat deposits and other lumps which manifest as swellings under their skins. Dog owners with older dogs are always advised to carry out monthly examinations so that they can keep track of their dog’s lumps. It is imperative for dog owners to take their dog to the vet when they notice a new lump to identify whether it is cancerous or not.
5. Loss of stamina
Loss of stamina in dogs occurs due to a myriad of other reasons including old age, but it is also one of the signs of cancer in dogs. If you notice your dog acting out of character – sleeping more, being less enthusiastic about going for walks or playing, and being less playful, then it might be time to visit a vet. It is important to note that less stamina is not a symptom confined to cancer in dogs, but it should be cause for concern if it appears together with other signs on this list.
6. Non-healing wounds
There is cause to worry if your dog has a sore or wound that does not seem to heal even after administering antibiotics. It is important to note that non-healing sores can be caused by other things like skin disease and infections as much as cancer can cause them. The best thing to do when you notice a non-healing wound on your dog is to book a veterinary appointment so that you can get an accurate diagnosis before proceeding with treatment.
7. Coughing and difficulty breathing
Coughing and difficulty breathing can be caused by cancer, lung disease, or heart disease so you cannot be sure unless you get a proper diagnosis. Thyroid cancer and lung cancer can cause a dog to develop a persistent cough, and also have difficulties breathing. If your dog experiences a persistent cough or starts having labored breathing, it would be paramount to take him to the vet for a proper diagnosis and treatment.
8. Abnormal odor
Any unusual odors from your pooch are a sign that something is very wrong. Strange smells are mostly a result of cancer in the nose, mouth, eyes, and anus so particular attention should be paid to those parts when doing a check-up. In case you notice an abnormal smell coming from your dog, it would be imperative to take him to the vet to have it checked.
9. Difficulty urinating and defecating
The inability for your pooch to perform standard bodily functions like urinating and defecating should be cause for alarm. A dog may have problems defecating as a result of a tumor pushing up against the rectum or obstructing the intestines. Difficulty urinating may be a result of a tumor blocking the urethra. If you notice that your pooch is experiencing stress or pain during urination or defecation, you should rush him to the vet as soon as possible.
10. Pain and discomfort
Pain and discomfort are some of the universal symptoms in most types of cancer in dogs and humans. It is essential to know the signs to look for in a dog to tell whether it is in distress. Signs of pain in dogs include limping, whimpering for seemingly no reason, bunny-hopping, and other apathetic behaviors. A dog in pain will also be less playful and will not want to be touched. If you notice any of those signs of distress, then you should visit a vet immediately to get a proper diagnosis and treatment.
Dog cancer is a harrowing and sad experience for both the dog and the dog owner. It, however, does not mean that you have to lose your pooch to cancer. Conducting thorough weekly checks for these signs can help you detect the disease early and give your dog a fighting chance. You can also read the dog cancer survival guide to get more information on how to handle things like early cancer detection, supplements and diets for ailing dogs, taking care of chemotherapy side effects in dogs, and how to give your dog the best attention and improve the quality and longevity of his life.