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Canine Cancer Signs

Canine Cancer Signs

It's never easy to think about our beloved pets facing health challenges, but awareness and understanding are crucial in providing the best possible care.

So, let's review the world of canine cancer, shedding light on what it is, common signs, and how we can support our furry friends through their journey. 

What is Canine Cancer?

Cancer in dogs is an abnormal growth of cells that can manifest in various parts of their bodies. From skin tumors to internal organ issues, our furry friends can be affected by different types of cancer. While it's a daunting thought, early detection and intervention can make a significant difference in treatment outcomes.

Signs to Watch Out For:

Our dogs can't verbally communicate their pain and discomfort, but they give us subtle signs. Keep an eye out for:

Changes in Behavior: 

If your dog is unusually lethargic, anxious, or withdrawn, it might be worth investigating further. Dogs don't communicate pain or discomfort in the same way humans do, so differences in their "normal" behavior can be a key sign that something may be amiss. 

Lumps and Bumps:

Regularly check for any unusual lumps or bumps during your petting sessions. Use your fingers to feel through their coat and don't forget crevices like under your dog's arms, the base of their tail, under ear flaps, between their toes, and in their mouth. Make a note of the approximate size, its location, and how it feels to the touch (is it warm? Is it solid or soft?). Don't squeeze any bumps you may find.

Consult your vet if you notice anything unusual. Visual identification of lumps and bumps isn't possible, so a consult with your veterinarian may include a fine needle aspiration or biopsy for identification.

Changes in Eating Habits:

A sudden loss of appetite or difficulty in eating could be a red flag. If you find your pup is no longer eating, is disinterested in treats, or has lost weight, there could be an issue that you can't visually see to identify. Keep in mind, that these changes may not be indicative of cancer in dogs, and could include dental discomfort or food sensitivities. Regardless, a consultation with a vet can help to identify the cause and possible solutions to changes in their eating habits.

Persistent Lameness or Stiffness:

Arthritis is common in older dogs, but persistent lameness or stiffness might indicate a deeper issue. Make a note about changes in mobility such as:

  • Does my dog no longer jump on the couch or bed?
  • Is my dog going on shorter than normal walks?
  • Does standing up from a lying or sitting position seem more difficult?
  • Is my dog favoring a leg or paw? Are they limping or is their gait different than it's been in the past?

The Importance of Early Detection:

Regular veterinary check-ups play a crucial role in catching cancer early. Your vet can perform routine screenings and guide you on specific tests based on your dog's breed, age, and overall health. 

While certain breeds are genetically more likely to develop certain types of cancer and advanced age can also lead to a cancer diagnosis, the reality is, that any dog regardless of breed or age could develop cancer. The sooner it's caught, the higher the likelihood of a positive treatment outcome. If something feels "off" it's better to visit with a veterinarian and establish a benchmark or receive a diagnosis and treatment plan.

Navigating the Journey Together:

If your furry friend is diagnosed with cancer, it can be an emotional and challenging time. However, advancements in veterinary medicine offer various treatment options, including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. The key is to work closely with your vet to determine the best course of action tailored to your dog's needs.

Support and Care:

During this journey, emotional support is just as vital as medical treatment. Spend quality time with your dog, engage in activities they enjoy, and ensure they feel loved and secure.

Additionally, consider joining support groups or reaching out to others who have gone through similar experiences—sharing stories can be therapeutic for both you and your canine companion.