Today’s guest writer is Stacy Mantle. She is writing what do know about cancer in dogs. 

Dogs are family and just like we need to be checking our family members for cancer, so do we need to do regular checks of our pets.

November is Pet Cancer Awareness Month, because an estimated 6 million dogs will be diagnosed with cancer each year. In fact, it’s the leading cause of death in dogs and over 50% of all dogs over the age of ten years will die from cancer-related causes. Some sources state that 1 in 4 dogs will be diagnosed with cancer each year.

Those are grim statistics, but no less daunting than those we face with humans. Just like in people, we need to be prepared and rely on early detection.

Which leads us to another problem – there is no easy test for finding cancer in pets.

Dogs and cats are notorious for hiding pain – it’s a trait leftover from their long history of being predators. This is why veterinarians rely on your pet’s medical history, behavior, biopsies, blood work, and even their breed to diagnose cancer in dogs.

5 Things To Know About Cancer in Dogs

Early detection can help save your dog’s life. It’s up to you to help your veterinarian determine a problem. Here are a few ways you can help.

Look for Unusual Bumps or Swelling: While grooming your dog, check for signs of swelling or unusual bumps. Some bumps are completely normal and others may be benign “lipomas” (aka, fatty tumors”). These are quite common and while they should be checked by a veterinarian, they are usually easily removed. Make a note of anything you notice and keep an eye on it.

Also be sure to check the tips of the ears, nose and belly. These are areas that are frequently exposed to excessive sun, which can cause skin cancers. If you have a white-coated dog, they are often more susceptible. Consider using a sunscreen designed specifically for pets.

Detect Unexplained Weight Loss: Like us, an unexplained weight loss can be a symptom of something more severe. Keep an eye on your pet for a loss of appetite or a change in eating habits.

Explore Offensive Odors: While you may feel like your dog is just “stinky” there could be more to this issue. Pets may have cysts or tumors that are draining internally and manifesting as “stinky” on the outside. A persistent odor is always a reason to check with your vet.

Evaluate Persistent Sneezing: If your dog has suddenly started sneezing for days at a time, it’s time to visit your DVM. Sinus and nasal tumors can grow rapidly, which irritates the lining, causing your dog to sneeze frequently. Don’t assume it’s just allergies.

Identify Lameness (especially recurrent or persistent lameness)

Bone cancer can cause severe pain and persistent lameness in pets. Ask your veterinarian about any swelling or stiffness, and be sure to treat a hobbling dog to a quick vet visit. Dogs with bone cancer can often go lame for a few hours, or for days or even weeks at a time. If it’s a recurring problem, talk to your veterinarian.

There are many treatments available for pets should they be diagnosed with cancer. Skin cancer can be especially simple, as are simple tumors and mouth cancers. Even bone-related cancers can be managed and sometimes even treated.

Surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy are all options for your pets. New prescription (and even natural remedies) are now being discovered that can help you maintain your pet’s quality of life during treatment. We’re seeing incredible strides in supplementing a pet’s treatment for cancer with natural remedies like CBD oils, turmeric, and even raw honey.

Fear of the disease should never stop you from checking your pet frequently. The most important part of protecting your pets is early detection.  

If you have a dog who has been diagnosed with cancer, we understand how important it is to keep him or her safe, comfortable and entertained. Sign up for a FREE 14-day trial of DOGTV and the two of you can snuggle up on the couch, watch the dog-centric programming and simply enjoy one another’s company.