One of the most endearing things about dogs is that they rarely “complain” about anything. They may whine a bit when it’s approaching dinner time, or when it is time to go outside to ‘do their business’. However, when faced with an illness or injury, dogs can often remain seemingly brave and upbeat.
Unfortunately, a dog’s ability to carry on in the face of pain or discomfort makes it difficult for an owner – who doesn’t know their dog is hurting – to provide proper care. This is especially problematic if a dog has a serious condition such as canine lymphoma, where the cancer may be present in multiple lymph nodes and/or organs throughout the body.
As noted in studies published on the website of the US National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health, unrelieved cancer pain greatly decreases quality of life of cancer patients – in both humans and animals alike. In the case of canine lymphoma, while there are promising new treatments available like TANOVEA®-CA1 (rabacfosadine for injection), it’s equally important that you continue to pay attention to any signs that your dog may be in pain or discomfort and work with a veterinarian to come up with the most effective treatment approach.
Having Your Best Friend’s Back
When your dog is in pain, you want to do all you can to help. However, because your dog often can’t tell or show you that they are in pain, it is important to recognize certain behavioral clues. Anything outside your dog’s normal behavior should get your attention, but here are 10 common indicators that your best friend may be in discomfort:
Increased vocalization. Dogs that are in pain are often more vocal than usual. This can include increased barking, yelping, growling, snarling, or howling. They may make these sounds seemingly at random, or they vocalize with movement when you pet or lift them. Either way, it may be an indicator of a serious condition like canine lymphoma.
Shaking or trembling. There are many things that can cause a dog to shake or shiver, from being cold to feeling nervous. However, if a dog starts to exhibit muscle tremors on a more frequent basis, this is an indicator that something more serious may be going on.
Unusual Potty Habits. Sometimes when a dog is experiencing internal discomfort or is generally unwell, they will have problems urinating or defecating. You may notice that they are suddenly peeing inside the house or seem to lack control of their bladder. Another sign that they may be experiencing pain is if their stool changes consistency – which, upon ruling out any dietary changes – could be a sign of high stress due to a more serious illness. In addition to these signs, your dog may also exhibit a change in posture when they do their business, this could be in an effort to avoid pain caused by their typical posture.
Excessive grooming. It is normal for dogs to lick themselves, but when a casual habit starts to become an obsessive behavior, it’s possible that your pet is in pain. You should be especially suspicious if it’s an area that your dog has never paid much attention to in the past.
Heavy panting. Dogs pant when they have been exercising or when they are in a warm environment. However, panting is also a reaction to stress, and if you aren’t aware of anything that might be causing that stress, it may be pain-related.
Aggression or shyness. Each dog has a unique personality. Some are more outgoing, and some are more reserved. However, if you notice your dog’s demeanor changing, this should be a red flag. This can include things like showing signs of aggression that you’ve never seen before or becoming timid. Don’t take it personally if your dog growls or nips at you. To them, it may be the only way to communicate that they are in pain and don’t want to be touched.
Limping. This one may sound obvious, but if your dog is limping, it’s safe to assume they’re in pain. Limping shouldn’t be taken lightly, especially if you did not see any incident that would have caused the limping. It’s important to see your veterinarian immediately so that they can assess whether the limping was caused by a physical injury like a sprained tendon, or if it’s the result of a disease like osteoarthritis, osteosarcoma or canine lymphoma.
Loss of appetite. In dogs, as in humans, being in pain is not conducive to a healthy appetite. While a dog’s lack of interest in food could be a sign of other things (a minor stomachache, for example), if it persists, it may be that your dog is hurting and needs medical attention.
Trouble resting. If your dog is in pain, they may have a hard time sitting or lying down. You may notice that they are regularly sitting or lying down in an awkward position. You may also notice that when they try to sit or lie down, they immediately stand up and move around. Both of these behaviors could be signs that an injury or condition is causing them significant pain, and they should be taken to their veterinarian for further evaluation.
Other unexplained behavioral changes. If you’ve had your dog for a while, you know what they like to do. They always run to the door when the doorbell rings or they frequently jump up on the couch to cuddle with you, for example. Canine lymphoma and other illnesses may cause a dog to lose interest in those behaviors.
Your Canine Lymphoma Experts
If your dog’s behavior leads you to believe that he or she might be in pain, the best thing to do is consult your veterinarian. As they say, “When in doubt, have a vet check it out.” That’s true whether the discomfort is related to canine lymphoma or any other condition. If you notice any of the signs above, it is important to consult your veterinarian or a veterinary cancer specialist as soon as possible.
We hope you find this information helpful. If you or your loved ones ever end up in the unfortunate circumstance of your dog being diagnosed with canine lymphoma, it may be helpful to speak to your veterinarian about new treatment options, such as TANOVEA-CA1 for the treatment of dogs with lymphoma. For further information, we invite you to follow our Facebook page or sign up for canine lymphoma updates at Tanovea.com. And don’t forget to keep an eye on any signs that your pet is in pain!
Important Safety Information: TANOVEA®-CA1 (rabacfosadine for injection) is not for use in humans and should be kept out of the reach of children. Wear chemotherapy-resistant gloves to prevent contact with feces, urine, vomit, and saliva of treated dogs for five days following treatment. Rabacfosadine is cytotoxic and can cause birth defects and affect female and male fertility. Pregnant and breast-feeding women should not prepare or administer the product. Serious and sometimes fatal respiratory complications, including pulmonary fibrosis have occurred in dogs treated with TANOVEA®-CA1. Do not use in dogs with pulmonary fibrosis, a history of chronic pulmonary disease that could lead to fibrosis, or in breeds with a predisposition to this condition such as West Highland White Terriers. Use with caution in other terrier breeds. Do not use in dogs that are pregnant, lactating, or intended for breeding. Most common adverse reactions included diarrhea, neutropenia, hyporexia, weight loss, and lethargy. Please see the package insert for full prescribing information.