Nobody wants to think about their dog getting lymphoma, but unfortunately it is one of the most common cancers in dogs today. Thus it is important to be aware of common indicators that can help you determine when to consult your veterinarian. Just like in humans, early detection and prompt treatment can have a big impact on the outcome for your dog. Even if your dog sees a veterinarian for regular exams, keeping an eye on his health in the months between may make a huge difference.
Canine Cancer Comes in Many Forms
Cancer is a disease typically characterized by rapid, uncontrolled cell growth in a specific organ or area of the body. Not only can a tumor grow to the point that it affects organ function and destroys nearby tissue, cancer cells can metastasize and spread to other sites in the body. There are many forms of canine cancer beyond canine lymphoma. Some of the most common include:
- Lymphoma – cancer affecting blood cells called lymphocytes, found in lymph nodes
- Osteosarcoma – cancer that originates in the bones but can spread to other areas
- Mast cell tumors – tumors typically found in the skin, but that can also affect internal organs
- Hemangiosarcoma – cancer that affects the lining of blood vessels
- Lipoma – benign skin tumors made up of fatty tissue
- Oral melanoma – cancer more often found in breeds that have darker coloration in their tongues and gums
From this list of common dog cancers, you can see that the disease can develop in, or spread to, virtually any part of a dog’s body. Therefore, the more you learn about the signs of cancer, and the more frequently you give your dog an at-home exam, the more likely you are to detect a problem early and get the proper treatment.
Be Aware of these Signs
Here are nine indicators that your dog may be ill with canine lymphoma or another form of canine cancer:
- Decreased appetite – Generally speaking, dogs love to eat. If yours suddenly shows little or no interest in food, you should take note.
- Swelling or lumps – If you find lumps in places where there were none before, consult your veterinarian.
- Persistent sores – It’s not uncommon for dogs to develop sores. However, if you notice them not healing, this may indicate a health problem.
- Unexplained weight loss – Weight loss that can’t be attributed to a change in diet, an illness, or some other cause should get your attention.
- Strong odors – Dog breath is normal, but if especially bad odors emanate from your dog’s mouth, nose, or anus, you should talk to your veterinarian.
- Problems breathing, urinating, or defecating – Painful or labored bodily functions are typically a sign of illness.
- Bleeding or discharge from any orifice – If you notice blood, pus, or any other type of discharge, contact your veterinarian promptly.
- Difficulty eating or drinking – If your dog seems to struggle with eating or drinking, make an appointment with your veterinarian.
- Lack of interest in exercising or decreased stamina – Losing interest in playing, or a marked decrease in energy level may be cause for concern.
It May Not be Cancer
Most of the indicators listed above can be symptoms of a condition other than canine lymphoma or another form of cancer. But you won’t know until you talk with your veterinarian. So, be sure to examine your dog regularly and get a medical opinion if you find something that doesn’t seem right.