symptoms of cancer in your pet

It’s a sad reality that our pets are not immune from the same serious diseases that strike humans. This includes cancer. Many pet owners feel shocked by the diagnosis because they barely noticed any symptoms. If you find yourself in that situation, don’t feel guilty about it. Dogs and cats have an instinctual need to hide their pain. In honor of Pet Cancer Awareness Month, Chaska Valley Veterinary Clinic urges all pet owners to familiarize themselves with the 10 most common symptoms of animal cancer. They include:

Appetite changes: An oral tumor or one in the esophagus, lungs, or stomach can make chewing and swallowing challenging for your pet. This appears as a reduced appetite, even among pets who previously ate anything in front of them in record time.

Changes in bathroom habits: Your pet may urinate or defecate more or less often than she normally does. You could also notice diarrhea, constipation, or blood in the feces.

Difficulty walking: Limping or refusing to use some limbs could potentially indicate a bone tumor.

Extreme fatigue: Your normally active dog or cat may seem depressed and take no interest in exercise or play. It’s also common for a pet with cancer to sleep several more hours per day than usual.

Foul body odor or breath: Pets often have bad breath due to poor oral hygiene. However, cancer cells growing along the lining of the mouth or nose can cause especially bad breath. Anal tumors can produce excessive odor as well.

New lumps or bumps: A hard mass on your dog or cat’s body that wasn’t there previously could indicate a tumor.

Persistent cough or struggling to breathe:  A pet who coughs without experiencing relief could have a tumor in the lung. Some dogs and cats will not be able to catch their breath and end up gasping for air.

Slow-healing wounds: If you notice a new wound or that a cut heals very slowly or not at all, please contact our animal hospital to schedule an evaluation for your pet.

Unplanned weight loss: If you’re not actively trying to reduce your pet’s weight, any noticeable weight loss is a red flag that something could be wrong.

Unusual discharge: Pus, heavy bleeding, diarrhea, and vomiting can all indicate a serious health issue with your pet. If it’s cancer, you could also notice that he has a distended or bloated stomach caused by internal discharge.

Prompt Diagnosis and Treatment is Essential

Having one or even several of these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean that your pet has cancer. However, it’s essential that you schedule an appointment at Chaska Valley Veterinary Clinic so we can evaluate your dog or cat’s symptoms as soon as possible. Should we arrive at a cancer diagnosis, we will let you know the type, stage, typical survival rates, and treatment options. Since cancer is common in pets over 10, be sure to watch your senior pets closely for these symptoms. The good news is that your pet may have a normal life expectancy with early diagnosis.

Photo Credit: Lindsay Helms / Getty Images

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