There are many conditions and illnesses that can potentially plague our pets and cause us great concern and worry. Unfortunately cancer is one of them, though many individuals incorrectly assume that cancer is exclusively a human condition. In actual fact, cancer is the number one disease-related killer of both dogs and cats, but as is the case with humans, it can be caught early and successfully treated. In some cases, cancer can be successfully and entirely eliminated, while in other cases pet owners can learn how to drive the condition into remission and prevent its return. Either way, it is good to understand some of the basic signs of cancer so that you know when to take action and get your pet screened.
Signs of Pet Cancer
Prior to exploring some of the basic signs of cancer, it is important to recognize that these same signs could also be signs of other physical conditions and illnesses. While one should definitely be prudent and have a veterinarian check out any of the following non-optimum signs, it is also important not to panic and automatically assume that your pet has an advanced form of cancer from which there is no recovery. Whatever is causing your pet’s condition, your veterinarian should be able to give you enough information in order to make an informed decision regarding their care and recovery.
Possible signs of pet cancer include:
● Unexplained lumps and bumps under the skin. Some lumps and bumps under a pet’s skin may be harmless fatty deposits, but there is no way to know for sure without a biopsy. If a lump or bump is not resolving by itself or is even growing in size, it’s especially important to have your veterinarian check it out as soon as possible.
● Unusual and offensive odors. Not surprisingly, unusual and offensive odors emitting from your pet’s body, especially their mouth or ears, can be a sign of a cancer.
● Abnormal discharge. Blood, pus, vomiting and diarrhea are all conditions that should be checked out by a veterinarian in order to determine their source. Bloated and distended abdomens should also be checked out, as they can be a sign of abnormal discharge being accumulated in the body.
● Wounds that don’t heal normally. Infections, skin diseases and cancers can all prevent wounds from healing normally.
● Unexplained, sudden and unusual weight loss. This is especially noticeable in a pet who has maintained a relatively steady weight for much of their life and is not currently on an intentional diet, but it can occur in any pet and should always be checked out, especially if it is occurring in conjunction with other signs of physical illness.
● A change in appetite. Many dogs and cats will continue to eat indefinitely if ample food is placed before them, and they will not usually stop eating without a good reason. This reason is not always cancer, but since oral tumors can cause pain when eating or swallowing, an appetite change should always be checked out by a veterinarian.
● Coughing or other breathing difficulties. Even if your pet’s coughing or breathing difficulties are not caused by heart disease, lung disease or cancer, it is undeniably an uncomfortable condition that should be checked out by a veterinarian.
● Unusual behavior, including lethargy and depression. Pets that suddenly sleep more often, act less playful and are less willing to interact with their owner or go on walks may be suffering from a variety of undesirable physical conditions, including cancer.
● Changes in bathroom habits. A pet who has difficulty going to the bathroom, goes more frequently or has blood in their urine or stool may be suffering from cancer or some other illness or non-optimum condition.
● Pain. Pain that is experienced while the pet is walking, running or jumping may very well be a sign of arthritis or joint and muscle issues and diseases, but it may also be a sign of cancer.
When you see one or more of the above non-optimum physical signs in your pet and have taken your pet to the veterinarian to be checked out, your veterinarian will most likely want to run some tests in order to determine the underlying condition or illness. This is the point at which they may suggest having your pet screened if cancer is suspected. Difficult as it may be to consider, it is far better to have a proper diagnosis and cancer management plan than to allow the condition to progress without treatment.