November is Pet Cancer Awareness Month. Each year, millions of dogs and cats are diagnosed with cancer, the leading cause of death in pets beyond middle age.
Knowing what to look for can help with early detection, and as with people, can make a difference.
Here are the top 10 warning signs of cancer in companion animals. If you notice any of these signs in your pet, please consult a veterinarian.
- Abnormal swellings that persist or continue to grow: Petting your pet is the best way to find lumps, bumps or swellings anywhere on the body.
- Sores that do not heal: Non-healing sores can be a sign of infection or cancer. Your veterinarian can determine the reason why the sore is not healing.
- Weight loss: If your pet is not on a diet, but is losing weight, illness could be to blame.
- Loss of appetite: It is not normal for pets to lose their appetite. This may be a sign of illness.
- Bleeding or discharge: Any abnormal fluid — including vomiting and diarrhea — discharged from any part of your pet’s body should be checked out by our veterinarian.
- Offensive odor: Offensive odors from your pet’s mouth, ears or any other part of your pet’s body, should be checked out. Foul odors are common signs of tumors in the mouth, nose or anus.
- Difficulty eating or swallowing: This is a common sign of cancers of the mouth and neck.
- Hesitation to exercise or loss of stamina: This can be one of the first signs that your pet is not feeling well.
- Persistent lameness: Limping or other evidence of pain is generally associated with arthritis or muscular injury, but it can also be a sign of cancer, especially of the bone.
- Difficulty breathing, urinating or defecating: These problems are likely caused by an underlying health problem. Schedule a veterinary appointment if your pet displays any of these symptoms.