The Symptoms of Cancer in a Dog

Annual physicals can catch dog cancer early
Annual physicals can catch dog cancer early (Image: german shepherd dog image by Lisa Batty from

The Morris Animal Foundation says that one in four dogs will die of cancer. Dr. Martin Goldstein, a renowned holistic veterinarian, believes that as dogs continue to be exposed to toxins through substandard food and environmental pollutants, cancer will continue affecting tomorrow's generations because of weakened DNA that gets passed down through bloodlines. Cancer can be prevented with healthy diets, while annual physical exams can ensure optimal health for today's dogs.

Abnormal Swelling or Lumps

Dr. Demian Dressler, DVM, says that not all cancerous lumps appear as hard bumps, the usual way that cancer appears underneath the skin. Sometimes tumors can feel soft and lumpy. A fine needle aspirate or biopsy can clarify any uncertainty.

Sudden Collapse

If an otherwise healthy dog suddenly collapses and is unconscious, get it to an emergency room. If the situation doesn't appear to be life-threatening, make an appointment to rule out internal disorders such as liver cancer.

Weight Loss

Sudden weight loss can indicate anything from worms to diabetes or cancer. If your dog loses more than 10 percent of its weight, there may be a serious underlying problem.

Loss of Appetite or Difficulty Eating

When an animal won't eat, this is a symptom of an underlying medical condition. It could be as simple as an upset stomach, but reluctance to eat that continues for more than one day should be discussed with your vet.

Sores That Won't Heal

The skin is the most common site of cancer in dogs. Most skin cancers appear as a sore that won't heal, causing dogs to chew or scratch at the area.

Loss of Energy and Stamina

Wild dogs will only exhibit outward signs of illness when the pain becomes unbearable, for fear of being attacked. Lack of energy of domestic dogs may indicate the early signs of excruciating pain. If your dog is slowing down, get him to a veterinarian.

Bleeding or Discharge

Some cancers, such as a nasal tumor, may create discharge from a nostril. But it can also indicate a tooth infection. Anal discharge may indicate anal sack carcinoma or something as treatable as impacted anal sacks.

Persistent Cough

Coughing can indicate kennel cough, pneumonia or an obstruction in the bronchial airways. While coughing in dogs is as normal as it is in humans, if coughing last more than 2 weeks, call your veterinarian.

Foul Odor

One of the most common causes of odors coming from the mouth is coprophagia, or feces eating. But it can also indicate the presence of mouth tumors. See your vet for a preliminary exam to rule out nasal or mouth cancer.

Persistent Lameness, Stiffness or Limping

If limping or lameness isn't alleviated with rest, anti-inflammatory drugs and holistic remedies like acupuncture, it may indicate anything from a torn ligament to bone cancer.

Difficulty Breathing, Urinating or Defecating

Dog who are having a hard time breathing must see the vet immediately. Less critical signs such as urinating trouble may indicate anything from degenerative spinal conditions to kidney issues. These outward signs of pain are enough to warrant an immediate vet consultation.

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