6 Early Warning Signs of Cancer in Dogs

Early Warning Signs of Cancer in Dogs

Early warning signs of cancer are key to treating cancer early. As your dog ages, the risk of cancer increases. By the age of 10, they have a 50% chance of developing a type of canine cancer, which, in case you didn’t know, is the number one cause of death in dogs. Because of this, you should watch out for early signs that could mean your dog has cancer, especially as he or she gets older.

Warning Signs of Cancer in Dogs

Bumps Beneath the Skin

Lumps, bumps or skin lesions are the most common signs of cancer in dogs. Lumps can be found anywhere on your dog’s body, including under their skin, under the hair, and on top of the hair. Lumps should feel firm to the touch and will not move easily when massaged.

Tumors can grow beneath the surface of the skin, which is why examining your dog for bumps as they age is critical. You should also keep track of new and existing bumps to identify which are potential threats, as some bumps may not be tumors.

Swollen lymph nodes should also be on your list of bumps you’re tracking. When lymph nodes swell, it can be a signal of leukemia or –– as is very common among Golden Retrievers –– lymphoma.

Weight Loss or Weight Gain

Unexplained weight loss indicates something is happening internally that shouldn’t be and has become one of the most reliable ways to determine if your dog has cancer, as it is a common sign. In many instances, your dog could have a gastrointestinal tumor, which you can go months without being detected.

early warning signs of cancer
Early Warning Signs of Cancer

On the other side of the spectrum of canine cancer is unusual weight gain despite your dog eating its regular meals.

Wounds That Won’t Heal

Persistent wounds should be a cause for concern. If a wound does not display the obvious signs of healing –– scabbing and hair growth –– instead emerging as red irritated lesions, it’s time to take your dog to the vet.

Sores that don’t heal are a sign you should see your veterinarian. These sores can be caused by skin cancer, internal cancer, or even some other disease like an infection.

If the tumor is on the surface of the skin and doesn’t go deeper into the body of your dog, it may just be a superficial mass that can be removed at home with proper medical attention from a veterinarian.

Unexplained Lethargy

There’s a difference between a bout of exhaustion because your dog is older and has ongoing lethargy. Therefore, if your dog is inactive and it’s unexplained, you may want to investigate further.

early warning signs of cancer
Early Warning Signs of Cancer

Odd Bowel Movements

Picking up your dog’s poop means you have an understanding of the different types of poop. The “got into the cat’s food” poop, the “someone’s been eating non-edible treats” poop, and so on. But when your dog begins to strain when passing stool, the stool is hard or black, tarry stools, your dog could have mast cell tumors.

Yes, we want our best friends to live as long as we do. Unfortunately, that’s not possible. What is possible is prolonging their life by being proactive when you suspect they have cancer and visiting the vet.

Difficulty Breathing

If your dog is having difficulty breathing, you should visit a veterinarian immediately. A dog with cancer may have trouble breathing because of compression on the lungs by metastatic tumors or inhaled tumor cells.

Cancer is a disease that affects the body’s cells and tissues, causing them to grow uncontrollably. It can spread throughout the body in various ways; some types of cancer spread through the lymphatic system or blood vessels while others use the bloodstream to travel from one part of the body to another.

Strange Bleeding or Discharge

If you notice blood in your dog’s stool, urine, vomit, or around their eyes or mouth, it’s important to see a veterinarian as soon as possible. While some bleeding can be normal in dogs and isn’t cause for concern, persistent bleeding could be due to an intestinal problem or a more serious issue like cancer.

Bleeding from an injury that does not stop in two to three minutes is a sign of blood clotting problems, which can be a symptom of cancer and other blood-related diseases such as hemangiosarcoma and lymphoma.

If your dog has been diagnosed with cancer and is currently being treated for it, then any type of unexpected bleeding should be reported immediately to your vet, who will adjust their medication accordingly.

Take a Deep Breath

We hope you’re feeling more informed about what to look for in your dog. We know how scary it can be when your furry pal is showing signs of cancer, but remember that they are not alone. There are plenty of other pups who have been through this experience with their owners and survived. Just remember that if your dog is showing any of the symptoms listed above, take them to the vet immediately so they can get checked out!

Read more:

10 Early Warning Signs of Cancer in Dogs – SASH Vets

Dog Cancer – Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

Signs of Dog Cancer That You Should Never Ignore

Drake Dog Cancer Academy

Published by Amber L. Drake

Dr. Amber L. Drake is a celebrated author and a distinguished cancer specialist, renowned for her comprehensive research in canine cancer prevention and nutrition. She is widely recognized for her commitment to helping dogs lead long and joyful lives, as well as for her contributions to veterinary medicine education. As the CEO of Canine Companions Co., the Founder of the Drake Dog Cancer Foundation and Academy, and the Co-Founder of Preferable Pups, she has become a respected and influential figure in the canine community, earning the admiration and respect of dog enthusiasts around the globe.

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