Getting the diagnosis that your dog has cancer, such as dog lymphoma, melanoma, or osteosarcoma can be devastating. Even worse is learning that the disease, which may have been more treatable if caught at an initial stage, has advanced to a point where it will be difficult to control. While your dog should be getting examined every year by a veterinarian who will look for signs of cancer as part of the check-up, you see your dog every day and can be on the lookout for any suspicious changes in her health.
Types of Cancer in Dogs
Cancer is a disease where the body loses control of cell growth in a particular organ or area. The cells multiply, move into adjacent tissues, and can metastasize (spread) throughout the body. According to petmd.com, some of the more common forms of cancer in dogs include:
- Lymphoma – a cancer of white blood cells called lymphocytes.
- Mast cell tumors – tumors that most commonly develop in the skin but can affect internal organs as well.
- Osteosarcoma – cancer that manifests in the bones but can spread to other areas.
- Lipoma – common benign skin tumors made up of fatty tissue.
- Oral melanoma – a cancer more common in dog breeds that have tongues and gums that are darker in color.
Dog cancer can occur in virtually any external or internal area of a dog’s body. Consequently, the more familiar you are with the signs of cancer, and the more frequently you give your pet an all-over exam at home, the more likely you are to catch dog lymphoma, mast cell tumors, or other forms of canine cancer early enough so that an effective treatment plan can be identified.
What to Look For
Here are 10 signs that your dog may have cancer:
- Lumps or swelling – If you discover any kind of unnatural bumps on or under your dog’s skin, it’s important to talk with your veterinarian. It may be a form of dog lymphoma.
- Loss of appetite – An occasional indifference to food can be caused by a number of things. But if it persists, that’s a red flag.
- Weight loss – If your dog’s weight begins to drop, it’s important to contact your veterinarian.
- Sores that don’t heal – Many things can cause a dog to develop a sore, but if it fails to heal in a timely manner, you should get it looked at.
- Offensive odors – Dog breath is normal, but if you start noticing especially foul odors coming from your dog’s mouth, nose, or anus, you should make an appointment with your veterinarian.
- Difficulty urinating, defecating, or breathing – When any of a dog’s natural body functions seem painful or labored, consider it a warning sign of some illness.
- Bleeding or discharge from any orifice – Contact your veterinarian promptly if you notice blood, pus, or any other type of discharge.
- Lameness or stiffness that persists – Dogs, especially older ones, can get a little sore after exercise. But if that soreness doesn’t seem to resolve in a timely manner, this can be an indication of an underlying condition like cancer.
- Difficulty eating or swallowing – Observe your dog as he eats periodically and talk with your vet if he seems to struggle.
- Decreased stamina or lack of interest in exercising – When your dog loses interest in playing, you should attempt to determine why.
Of course, many of the signs above can be caused by other conditions and are not always an indication your dog has osteosarcoma, melanoma, dog lymphoma or any other type of canine cancer. However, it’s important to keep a close eye on your dog’s health, and if you notice any of the signs above, consult your veterinarian or a veterinary cancer specialist. If you end up in the unfortunate circumstance your dog being diagnosed with canine lymphoma, speak to your veterinarian about new treatment options, such as TANOVEA™-CA1 (rabacfosadine for injection) for dogs with lymphoma.