November is Pet Cancer Awareness Month. Know the top 10 warning signs of pet cancer from the American Veterinary Medical Association.
If you notice any of these warning signs, get an appointment with your vet to check things out as soon as possible.
#1 – Enlarged or Changing Lumps and Bumps
Once or twice a month, take a few minutes to feel your pet’s body for any lumps, bumps or abnormal swelling. Check for swollen lymph nodes, most easily detected around the jaw, shoulders, armpits, and behind the legs. Make a note of any bumps (their size and location) to make sure they aren’t growing or changing shape over time.
#2 – Sores that Don’t Heal
If your cat or dog has an open wound that won’t heal, it could be a sign of something more serious, such as an infection or cancer.
#3 – Chronic Weight Loss or Gain
If you haven’t changed your pet’s diet or food, but they’re gaining or losing weight, this could signify an illness. Weight loss or weight gain can indicate a possible tumor in the stomach. Another related symptom could be chronic vomiting or diarrhea.
#4 – Change in Appetite
Is your dog or cat eating more – or less – than usual? Are they trying to eat foods they were previously had no interest in? Drastic changes in your pet’s appetite could be a sign of cancer.
#5 – Persistent Cough
There are many reasons why dogs might have a persistent cough. For younger pups that were recently adopted or placed in boarding, a persistent cough could be a sign of kennel cough. In older dogs, a dry persistent cough could indicate a tumor near the heart or lung cancer.
#6 – Persistent Lameness or Stiffness
When a pet is limping on one foot or no longer wants to walk or exercise, this can be a sign of osteosarcoma or bone cancer.
# 7 – Really Bad Breath
No animals have minty fresh breath! But if you detect a particularly foul smell emanating from your pet’s mouth even with regular grooming, it could be a sign of oral cancer. Not all pets that have oral cancer exhibit pain or have trouble eating, so it’s a good idea to consult your veterinarian.
#8 – Difficulty Breathing, Eating or Swallowing
A tumor in the mouth or neck can create pressure and make it difficult for your pet to eat or drink. A tumor near the esophagus, nose or lungs can block airways, making it harder for your pet to breathe.
#9 – Difficulty Urinating or Defecating
Dogs and cats can develop tumors in their urinary tracts, which can make it difficult to urinate. Similarly, if you see your pet is having trouble defecating or there is a sustained foul odor from the rear, a mass near the anus might be the culprit.
#10 – Bleeding or Discharge from any Opening
Consult your veterinarian if your pet experiences any unexplained bleeding or discharge from any opening. Bleeding is a common sign of cancer and other illnesses. Oral cancer can cause gums to bleed. Nose cancer can cause the nose to bleed.
If your pet is experiencing any of these warning signs, schedule an appointment with us right away.