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Warning Signs of Cancer in Dogs & Cats

Early diagnosis and treatment of cancer can, in many cases, give pets a good quality of life for months or years to come. Spotting the earliest signs of cancer is essential in order for treatment to begin as soon as possible, but what are the earliest signs of cancer in pets? Our Rock Hill vets explain. 

Monitoring Your Pet's Overall Health

No one likes to think of their pet becoming ill, especially with a disease as serious as cancer. Yet, knowing the signs of cancer in pets may help you to spot symptoms of disease in its very earliest stages, allowing treatment to begin before sooner when it's most effective.

Common Signs Of Cancer in Dogs & Cats

Below are some common signs of cancer in dogs and cats.

Unexplained Swelling, Lumps & Bumps

Groom your pet regularly and during your grooming sessions take the time to really examine your pet's skin. Are there any lumps, bumps, or swellings that you hadn't noticed before? Remember, cancer can strike any part of the body so don't forget to check your pet's 'armpits' and other creases.

Sudden Unexplained Weight Loss

Unexplained weight loss is a common sign of many health problems in pets. If your four-legged friend is losing weight but isn't on a diet, it's time to call your vet to book an examination for your dog or cat.

Loss of Appetite

Of course, this is closely tied to weight loss but it may be a symptom that becomes noticeable before your pet loses a significant amount of weight. If your dog or cat is generally a good eater but is now picking at their food, or ignoring it altogether, there may be a serious health issue involved. Loss of appetite is a symptom common to many health issues in pets and always worth having investigated.

Repeated or Recurring Bouts of Diarrhea or Vomiting

Most pets experience diarrhea and vomiting at some point during their life. In most cases, vomiting and diarrhea are related to minor gastrointestinal issues but if your pet has repeated episodes of vomiting and diarrhea over the course of 24 hours, or if you notice blood in your pet's vomit or stool, it's time to have your four-legged friend examined by a veterinary professional as soon as possible.

Unusual Foul Odor

Like people, our pets each have a unique scent of their own. If you dog or cat is suddenly exuding a bad odor - whether from their mouth, ears or backend - it could be a sign of a serious health concern such as cancer. Often cancers of the mouth, nose or anus can lead to offensive odors coming from your pet.

Limping & Persistent Lameness

It is certainly true that limping and other signs of limb pain can be associated with less serious conditions such as muscle strains, ligament tears or even injured paw pads, but it's important to note that lameness is also a common sign of serious and aggressive cancers such as bone cancer. If your pet is limping it's always best to err on the side of caution and have your pet examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Breathing Difficulties

Breathing difficulties in dogs and cats can result from a number of conditions including asthma, allergies, contact with toxins and of course cancer. Regardless of why it may be happening, if your pet is having difficulties breathing contact your veterinarian straight away or visit your nearest animal emergency hospital for urgent care.

Toilet Accidents

If your pet is toilet trained but then begins urinating or defecating in the house this can be a sign of an infection or stress, but it could also be a symptom of a number of different cancers including kidney or bowel tumors. If your pet has a single accident there is likely nothing to worry about but repeated accidents should be investigated by your veterinarian.

Diagnosing Cancer in Pets

Your veterinarian will begin by taking a detailed medical history of your pet, then perform a thorough physical examination. If your veterinarian feels that your pet likely has cancer, diagnosis will move to the next level. 

Several tests may be recommended to help determine the extent of the cancer such as urinalysis, ultrasound, digital X-rays, biopsy, blood tests (blood count, chemistry profile) and tissue aspirates. Other diagnostic tests that may also be recommended include CT, PET or MRI scans, lymph node aspirated, endoscopy, bone marrow aspirate and/or immunologic studies. 

Once your veterinarian receives the results of the diagnostic tests they will be better able to understand the nature of the disease in your pet and determine the best treatment options to meet your pet's needs. 

Treatment for Cancer in Pets

As with cancer in humans, the cancers that affect the health of cats and dogs vary in how quickly they grow and spread, and how easily they can be treated. In most cases, the earlier treatment begins the better the prognosis for your pet. The treatment for your pet's cancer will depend upon a number of factors but may include immunotherapy, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, surgery and/or palliative care when appropriate.

Prognosis For Pets With Cancer

While tumors that have spread to other organs are not typically curable, palliation may help to relieve symptoms and potentially prolong life without providing a cure. Tumors with the best chance of being treated or cured are those that have not invaded surrounding tissues. 

Only your veterinarian will be able to provide you with a prognosis for your pet. While some cancers can be treated very successfully, other more aggressive cancers such as bone cancer, can move alarmingly fast once symptoms have been detected. Once your pet has been diagnosed your vet will take the time to review your pet's prognosis and provide you with treatment options and potential outcomes.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

At Carolina Veterinary Specialists we provide 24/7 emergency care for pets in need. If your cat or dog is showing symptoms or behaviors that require urgent attention contact our Rock Hill emergency vets right away.

Vet Care for Rock Hill Pets

Carolina Veterinary Specialists in Rock Hill, accepts new patients to our specialty services by referral only. Our emergency/urgent care service welcomes all patients.

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