Signs of Cancer in Pets

Cancer is certainly one of the most dreaded words of the 21st century. Unfortunately, it is not just a disease that affects humans. Countless beloved pets are also diagnosed with cancer every single year and like us, there are many different types of cancer that can affect them. Some of the most commonly diagnosed animal cancers include:

- Lymphomas

- Osteosarcomas

- Melanomas

- Lymphosarcomas

- Mast cell tumors

- Cancers of the reproductive system


When it comes to dealing with cancer, early detection is crucial and can make the difference as to whether your pet can be successfully treated and make a full recovery. For this reason, it is important to understand what the most common signs of cancer in pets are, so that you can seek the advice of our vet just as soon as you suspect your furbaby is unwell.


General symptoms of cancer in pets

Since there are a multitude of different cancers that can affect your pet, the exact symptoms that he will display will also vary depending on which area of his body is affected. Nevertheless, there are some more general symptoms that could indicate that your beloved pet is suffering from some form of cancer. These include:


- Abnormal swellings that continue to get larger

- Unexplained weight loss

- Wounds or sores that do not heal, despite being given antibiotics

- Loss of appetite

- Difficulty eating or swallowing

- Bleeding or abnormal discharge from any part of the body

- An offensive odor

- Reluctance to exercise, particularly when previously fairly active

- Respiratory difficulties

- Problems with urinating or defecating

- Persistent lameness


If your pet presents with one or more of the above symptoms without any real cause, or the issue doesn’t resolve itself fairly quickly, it is always advisable to book an appointment with our vet. It is highly unlikely that your pet does have cancer, but our vet has the training and experience to get to the bottom of the problem and get your pet the treatment he needs.


The importance of educating pet owners of signs of cancer, for those with intact pets

Reproductive cancers are extremely common in pets who have their reproductive organs intact. Aside from preventing unwanted pregnancy and contributing to the overpopulation crisis, eliminating the risk of cancer is one of the key reasons why responsible pet owners get their pet spayed/neutered.


By removing the reproductive organs – in the case of males the testicles, and in the case of females, the uterus – you can entirely prevent both testicular and breast cancers from ever occurring. Both of these types of cancer are known for having low survival rates in animals. If you are intending on breeding your pet and therefore will keep his/her reproductive organs intact, it is especially important that you are aware of the signs of these cancers.


Warning signs of testicular cancer in pets

It can be very difficult to spot the signs of testicular cancer in animals since the tumors are secreted within the testes. However, it is the second most common cancer in intact older dogs. Cancerous testicles are usually noticeably larger than usual, and your pet’s scrotum may also be swollen. Some males with testicular cancer will squat when they urinate owing to the fact their penis begins to shrink back due to swelling of the mammary glands.


Warning signs of breast cancer in pets

The symptoms of breast cancer in pets are very similar to that seen in humans. Your furbaby may have:

- One or more lumps or swellings in the mammary area

- Abnormal secretions coming out of her nipples

- Enlarged lymph nodes

- Obvious pain when you touch the mammary area

If the cancer has metastasized and spread to another area of her body, she may also show more general symptoms such as lameness, loss of appetite, lethargy and weight loss.

If you are remotely concerned that your pet may be showing signs of cancer, or even if you just feel that there is something out of the ordinary with him, it is always worth a call to our veterinarian to rule out any significant problems. If you would like further advice on pet cancers, including those of the reproductive organs, please do not hesitate to contact our clinic.

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