James R. Speiser, DVM, DABVP, CCRT
June 26, 2015
Would you know how to detect cancer in your pet? Early cancer detection is associated with the best outcomes and in many cases a cure. Here are 10 of the most common warnings signs you might want to explore further with your veterinarian:
Lumps & bumps. Not all lumps and bumps on or under the skin are cancerous, but it is something to be concerned with. A needle aspirate or biopsy is a routine procedure to help determine benign from malignant.
Abnormal odors. Cancers can cause foul odors as a result of secondary infections. Unlike normal tissue, cancers are more susceptible to infection, especially when they are located in certain areas of the body like the mouth, the ears and around the rear end.
Abnormal discharges. Some cancers produce fluid, while others put pressure on the normal drainage systems of the body, which can lead to a back up of fluids.
Non-healing wounds. If your pet has wounds or sores that are not healing, it could be a sign of infection, skin disease or cancer. Cancerous tissue can be weak and cause non-healing sores.
Weight loss. Cancer might prevent normal intake of food, or compete with the body for important nutrients, leading to sudden or chronic (slower) weight loss.
Change in appetite. Pets generally don’t stop eating without an underlying reason. Cancer might affect normal intake of food through the development of nausea, or the physical presence of the tumor can induce anorexia (inappetence).
Coughing/difficulty breathing. Cancers located within the respiratory system can result in changes in breathing and/or cough by interrupting normal respiratory processes. A chest X-ray might be required.
Lethargy/depression. If your pet is less active, sleeping more or less interactive, this should be evaluated further. Depending on the type of cancer and location, it could cause minor discomfort or affect normal exercise.
Changes in bathroom habits. Straining to urinate or defecate, blood in the stool or urine, and more (or less) frequent eliminations are often symptoms of cancers located in the urinary or gastrointestinal system. An ultrasound might be recommended.
Evidence of pain. Limping or other evidence of pain is more likely associated with arthritis or muscular injury, but it can also be a sign of bone cancer in particular. Radiographs can determine the underlying cause.