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Kitty Post: Detecting Cancer in Cats and Dogs By Sallie Rhodes

Updated: Jul 4, 2023


Detecting Cancer in Cats and Dogs

Cancer is the number one disease-related cause of death in cats and dogs, affecting one in five cats and one in four dogs in the US. Early detection significantly increases the effectiveness of treatment. Here are 10 things to look for in your pet that may be early signs of cancer:

Swollen lymph nodes: Lymph nodes are located throughout the body. Swelling is most easily detected in the lymph nodes behind the jaw and the knee.

Enlarging or changing lumps: A lump that is growing rapidly or changing in texture or shape, should be examined by a vet.

Swollen abdomen: If your pet’s stomach or belly grows very quickly, it may be a sign of a tumor or of internal bleeding.

Weight loss: If your pet is not on a diet but you observe that it is losing weight, you should have it checked out. While not necessarily a sign of cancer, it often indicates that something is wrong.

Vomiting or diarrhea: If your pet is vomiting or having diarrhea for an extended period of time, it’s time to see the vet as this can be caused by tumors of the gastrointestinal track.

Bad Breath: A animal that has an oral tumor often has horrible bad breath. It may also change the kind of food that it wants (wet food vs. dry) and/or change the way that it chews its food. Or, your pet may start chewing its food in a different manner. A foul odor often accompanies an oral tumor.

Unexplained bleeding: Bleeding disorders do occur in some pets, but they are generally discovered when the animal is young. Unexplained bleeding in older pets may indicate a different problem.

Cough: If an older pet develops a dry, non-productive cough, take it to the vet. This type of cough might indicate lung cancer or heart disease.

Lameness: A common sign of bone cancer in large dogs is unexplained lameness. Bone cancer can be detected by doing x-rays.

Straining to urinate: In most cases, dogs and cats that strain to urinate/have blood in their urine have a common uninary tract infection that can be treated with antibiotics. If the symptoms persist after the antibiotics, cancer of the bladder may be the underlying cause.

The Veterinary Cancer Society recommends that pet owners check their pets frequently for these 10 early signs of cancer. If you find any of these early warning signs, make an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible. Your prompt action may save your pet’s life.

This information is a summary of information provided by Petco Love and Blue Buffalo.

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