Did you know that 12 million cats and dogs are diagnosed with cancer every year? With new advancements in veterinary medicine, veterinarians can now diagnose and treat cancer with greater success. There are even veterinary cancer specialists who can provide expert cancer care to your pet. Early detection is crucial when it comes to cancer. Cancer is the number one cause of disease-related deaths in older cats and dogs, and detecting cancer early can make all the difference in the life of your pet.

For young and adult pets, schedule annual visits with your family veterinarian for a full checkup. For older or senior pets, schedule checkups every six months. Animals age quickly, and regularly-scheduled checkups will allow your vet to determine any changes in your pet before they may become severe issues.

Look for these early warning signs of cancer.

Be observant of any changes in your pet’s physical appearance and behavior. Not all cancer warning signs are apparent right away, with some changes developing over time.

Here are the top 10 warning signs of cancer in cats and dogs. If you notice any of these, contact your veterinarian to check things out as soon as possible. Depending on the cancer type and stage, your pet’s health can deteriorate very quickly, so it’s always best to get an exam. When in doubt, get it checked out.

1.) Enlarged or Changing Lumps and Bumps
Once or twice a month, take a few minutes to feel your cat or dog’s body for any lumps, bumps or abnormal swelling. Check for swollen lymph nodes, which can be a sign of lymphoma. Lymph nodes are located throughout the body but most easily detected around the jaw, shoulders, armpits, and behind the legs. Make a note of any bumps (their size and location) to make sure they aren’t growing or changing shape over time.

2.) Sores that do not Heal
If your pet has an open wound that will not heal, it could be a sign of something more serious, such as an unresolved infection or cancer. Tell your veterinarian as soon as possible and have it checked out.

3.) Chronic Weight Loss or Weight Gain
If there is no change in the diet or food, but your pet is gaining or losing weight, this could be a sign of illness. Weight loss or weight gain can indicate a possible tumor in the stomach. Another related symptom could be chronic vomiting or diarrhea.

4.) Change in Appetite
Is your dog or cat eating more than usual? Eating less than normal? Are they trying to eat foods they were previously uninterested in? Drastic changes in your pet’s appetite could be a sign of cancer.

5.) Persistent Cough
There are many reasons why dogs might have a persistent cough. For younger pups that were recently adopted or placed in boarding, a persistent cough could be a sign of kennel cough. In older dogs, a dry persistent cough could indicate a tumor near the heart or lung cancer.

6.) Persistent Lameness or Stiffness
You may find that your pet is limping on one foot or no longer wants to walk or exercise. Persistent lameness or stiffness can be a sign of osteosarcoma or bone cancer.

7.) Unpleasant Odor from the Mouth
A foul smell from the mouth can be a sign of oral cancer. Not all pets that have oral cancer exhibit pain or have trouble eating, so it is a good idea to consult your veterinarian if they have persistent bad breath.

8.) Difficulty Breathing, Eating or Swallowing
A tumor in the mouth or neck can put pressure on the area and make it difficult for your pet to eat or drink. A tumor near the esophagus, nose, or lungs can block airways, making it harder for your pet to breathe.

9.) Difficulty Urinating or Defecating
Dogs and cats can develop tumors in their urinary tracts, which can make it difficult to urinate. Similarly, if you see your pet is having trouble defecating or there is a sustained foul odor from the rear, a mass near the anus may be the culprit.

10.) Bleeding or Discharge from Any Opening
Consult your veterinarian if your pet experiences any unexplained bleeding or discharge from any opening. Bleeding is a common sign of cancer and other illnesses. Oral cancer can cause gums to bleed. Nose cancer can cause the nose to bleed.

Regular wellness exams will provide your veterinarian the opportunity to check for signs of cancer, but you can take a more proactive approach to your pet’s health by looking for these warning signs regularly. Your furry family members depend on you to keep them healthy for as long as possible. And they’ll be sure to thank you for catching their cancer early with cuddles, love, and loyalty!

Courtesy of PetCure Oncology

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