It is very difficult to detect cancer early in pets. In many cases, cancer cannot be detected on blood work. It is critical to remember that a pet can be very sick “inside”, without showing any signs “outside”, which is why regular veterinary checkups are essential, ideally every 6 months.
Here are 10 common signs that may indicate that your pet could have cancer.
1. Abnormal swellings that persist or continue to grow. The most obvious example is a mass (or bump, or lump) that keeps growing under the skin. It should be removed and biopsied. The mass may be benign or malignant (cancerous), then you know and can discuss what to do next.
2. Sores that do not heal. These are typically skin wounds that don’t heal despite antibiotics or ointment application.
3. Unexplained weight loss.
4. Loss of appetite. When your pet is not feeling well, the first thing it does is stop eating.
5. Difficulty breathing may be caused by heart or lung disease, and also cancer. Difficulty eating or swallowing may indicate cancer and should be discussed with your veterinarian.
6. Blood, pus, vomiting, diarrhea or other discharge from a body opening should be checked by your veterinarian. If your pet’s abdomen becomes bloated or distended it might indicate accumulation of abnormal discharge within the body.
7. Offensive odor from the mouth, ears, or other part of the body should be checked by your veterinary professional.
8. Your pet is sleeping more, less playful, less willing to go on walks, or exercise, these may be signs of cancer. Lethargy or depression are not symptoms confined to cancer but are reason enough to speak with your veterinarian.
9. Persistent lameness or stiffness. Limping or other evidence of pain may be associated with arthritic issues or joint or muscle diseases, but it can also be a sign of bone cancer.
10. Difficulty urinating or defecating, frequent bathroom use, or blood in urine or stool are potential signs of cancer.
As noted, not every change in your pet’s behavior is related to cancer but it may be a symptom of some other issue affecting your pet’s health—early detection is the key. Stay informed, keep your eyes open, touch your pet all over and often, and see your veterinarian for regular checkups.
Whether to detect cancer or any other condition, these are safe recommendations to keep your pet healthy for a long time!
Another recommendation, be sure you have savings set aside throughout your pet’s life to assist you with paying for unexpected pet-related medical needs.
Upcoming Rabies Clinic: Thursday, September 11 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Human Services Building, Rt. 310, Canton.
Clinics may change or be cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances without notice, please call 386-2325 for clinic confirmation or questions. For a complete listing of upcoming clinics: http://www.co.st-lawrence.ny.us/Departments/PublicHealth/RabiesControl