Signs of Cancer in Pets: Pet Cancer Awareness Month
According to the American Veterinarian Medical Association, nearly half of dogs over 10 years old will contract cancer and around 30% of cats. While no pet lover wants to think about this possibility, it’s good to know the signs of cancer in pets because early recognition can spare your pet pain and extend his or her life.
Veterinarians say that the increasing rates of cancer in pets is due to their longer lives and better overall health care. However, a healthy diet, regular exercise, and awareness of the most common pet cancer symptoms can help your four-legged friends stay healthy.
5 Most Common Signs of Pet Cancer
Being aware of pet cancer symptoms doesn’t mean you need to panic at every change in your dog or cat, but it is good to be aware so that you can make a veterinarian appointment earlier rather than waiting until it becomes a bigger concern.
That said, here are the biggest pet cancer symptoms.
1- Unusual lumps and bumps – This probably comes as no surprise to you since tumors are lumpy and often associated with cancer. But don’t panic just because you’ve noticed an unusual lump on your dog or cat. While they can signal skin cancer, lymphoma or other types of cancers, they can also be benign (non-cancerous.)
The best thing to do is to check your pet for unusual growths every few weeks or month. It’s easy to do if you pair it with a brushing session. If you find something unusual, make a note of it on paper, on your phone, or better yet, video the area with your phone and mention your concerns. That makes it easier to notice any differences rather than attempting to rely on memory.
Then, check it again a couple of weeks later and see if there’s any change. If so, make an appointment with your vet.
2—Wounds that won’t heal – If your dog or cat has a scrape that just won’t heal, it could be due to abnormal cell growth (which is also related to tumors) and it’s time to schedule and appointment with your veterinarian because healthy cells will heal.
3—Sudden “lameness” – If your dog or cat is trotting along and suddenly seems to go “lame” in one or more legs, this could be a sign of cancer. It could also be a sign of arthritis, hip dysplasia or disc disease too. There’s no way to tell without a check-up. Find out what’s the cause and then you can treat it appropriately.
4—Rapid weight loss/gain – Anytime there is a major fluctuation in your pet’s weight, that’s cause for concern as it can indicate a health problem including the possibility of cancer. It’s normal to fluctuate a pound or two depending on the size of your dog or cat but to go from overweight to scrawny within a few weeks is cause for concern.
5—Lethargy – If your pet seems excessively tired or has lost their spunk, this is a definite clue that something is wrong. Just like you’re draggy if you’re sick, the same is often true for your pets.
These are few symptoms of pet cancer you can look for in your pet. Granted, they’re also symptoms of other diseases too. The only way to know what’s wrong—if anything--is to bring them in for a check-up. Caught early, cancer and other diseases can be managed, and in some cases, healed.
Now that you know some of the common cancer signs in pets, you’re more informed and can be a good advocate for your pet’s health. For senior dogs and cats, veterinarians recommend a twice a year appointment to keep tabs on any changes in their bodies’ or behavior. Dogs and cats age more frequently than humans and a lot can happen in six months in their bodies.
What about your pet? Is it time for a wellness visit?