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13 Signs of Cancer in Dogs

Cancer is a scary word, especially when it comes to our loved ones and pets. If you notice changes in your dog’s health or he’s behaving differently, it’s important to know the signs of cancer in dogs, so you can keep an eye out. Early treatment can make a big difference!

Sign #1: Abnormal Swelling

Abnormal swelling can appear just about anywhere on a dog’s body, and it can be a sign of canine cancer, especially if the swelling gets larger over time. If you notice a bump or lump on your dog that wasn’t there previously, mention it to your vet.

While you groom your dog is a great time to check for this sign of cancer, especially as your dog ages. Run your hands over his body and legs, in his ears, and between his paw pads.

Sign #2: Weight Loss or Gain

If your dog isn’t dieting, sudden weight loss could signify intestinal cancer or another illness. The same goes for weight gain. If your dog is following the same diet he always has, yet seems to be gaining weight or bloating, it can point to a build up of fluid from cancer or another medical issue.

Sign #3: Abnormal Bleeding or Discharge from Openings

Another sign of canine cancer is abnormal discharge, such as pus, or bleeding from the nose, anus, or mouth. Blood at the nose could point to nose cancer, while pus or blood at the anus could point to cancer of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

Sign #4: Difficulty Going to the Bathroom

If you notice your dog is having difficulty urinating, schedule an appointment with your vet. This could be a sign of a urinary tract infection (UTI) or bladder crystals, but it could also point to cancers in the bladder, kidneys, or urethra.

You may also notice that your dog has problems defecating. Signs of cancer in the rectum or anus include struggling to go to the bathroom, diarrhea, black, tarry stools (this indicates blood), or hardened stools.

Sign #5: Increased Drinking and Urinating

In the same vein, if you suddenly find your dog is urinating more often and drinking more water, take him to the veterinarian. Increased drinking can point to a UTI but could mean the base of the brain or adrenal gland has a slow-growing tumor.

Sign #6: A Bad Smell

If, no matter how many times you wash your dog, there is a bad smell emanating from him, take him in for a checkup. Anal, nose, and oral cancer can all give off offensive odors.

Sign #7: Loss of Appetite

While loss of appetite often points to illness in dogs, older dogs—being less active—can tend to eat less than younger dogs. A sudden change in appetite or refusal to eat are what you should look out for. If you notice either of these changes in behavior, get him checked out. Nausea can also be a sign of cancer.

old golden retriever laying in grass with stick in mouth

Sign #8: Issues Eating or Swallowing

Similar to sign number 7, your dog may want to eat but not be able to. Difficulty eating or swallowing food or water can be a sign of tooth pain, cavities, or oral or neck cancer.

Sign #9: Easily Tired or Refuses to Exercise

Dogs, as they age, of course get tired faster, but sudden or drastic changes in your dog’s energy level can point to problems. If your dog, who once loved to chase tennis balls or going for walks, gets tired after a throw or two or just refuses to play or run around, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. Lethargy or depression can be major signs of illness, including cancer.

Sign #10: Sores That Refuse to Heal

Open wounds can be dangerous for dogs and lead to infection. Open sores that refuse to heal at all, even with medication, can be a sign of cancer in dogs. Red and irritated sores or lesions could point to mast cell tumors, which are a common form of skin tumor. These cancers can spread to organs or bone marrow.

Wounds are something you should regularly look for and note while grooming your pup.

Sign #11: Difficulty Breathing

If you notice your dog is suddenly struggling to breathe or wheezing, veterinary care is a must. A tumor could be putting pressure on his windpipe or lungs. Rapid breathing could also point to medical issues, like heart tumors, that require treatment.

Sign #12: Lameness or Stiffness

Senior dogs are more prone to arthritis, which affects about one in five dogs during their lives. However, sudden, persistent lameness or stiffness can be a sign of bone, nerve, or muscle cancer in dogs. You may also notice leg swelling or limping.

Sign #13: Obvious Pain

If your dog is refusing to jump, whimpers, or shows other signs of obvious pain, schedule a vet visit right away. These can be signs of arthritis and old age, but they can also point to joint problems, muscle disease, and bone cancer.

Knowing the signs of cancer in pups may help save yours. While cancer is more common in older dogs, it is not unheard of in younger ones. When grooming or playing with your dog, keep an eye out for physical and behavioral changes. If you notice any, call your veterinarian to make an appointment. Staying on top of your dog’s health and well-being means a happier life for him!

Is your dog displaying any of the warning signs of cancer? We’re here to help with diagnosis and treatment options. To schedule an appointment for your dog at Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital, simply call 281-693-7387.

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The Team @ Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital

Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital serves Katy, TX and the surrounding areas with a dedication and passion for our animal friends that is unmatched. Our veterinarians are highly trained, experienced, and compassionate when it comes to giving your pet the care they deserve. If your companion is in need of emergency care, a dental cleaning, grooming, or just a check-up, we would love to see them! Call 281-693-7387 to make an appointment quickly and easily.

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