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. For this reason, you should be attentive to the early warning signs possibly pointing to cancer, especially as your dog grows older.
Bumps Beneath the Skin
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 a tumor.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 (such as when they’ve eaten something sharp), persistent bleeding could be due to an intestinal problem or a more serious issue like cancer.
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 a vet immediately so they can get checked out!