November is Pet Cancer Awareness Month. Cancer is the leading cause of illness and death in dogs over the age of 10 years. As people take better care of their pets, they tend to live longer, making them more susceptible to develop cancer. With early detection, half of all cancers are treatable.
Tumors can develop from any tissue and there are many types of tumors that can occur in a variety of locations. The more you know about tumor types can help you monitor your dog and catch possible cancers early, which may help treat the disease before it is too late.
Knowing the possible signs that your dog may have a cancerous tumor will help in early detection. These symptoms are not necessarily indicative of cancer, but if a pet begins to exhibit any of them, or a combination of symptoms, you should visit your veterinarian immediately.
- Lump and bumps: Not all lumps and bumps are cancerous. If you find one on your dog, call your veterinarian. Your pet may need a needle biopsy to determine if the cells are cancerous or not.
- Abnormal Odors: Many dogs generally have “doggy breath”. If your dog’s breath becomes more odorous than normal for your dog, he should be seen by a veterinarian. Foul smelling odors could be a sign of mouth or nose cancers. If your dog has other odors that are not normal for him, such as odors from the ears, or other parts of his body, he should be checked out.
- Discharges: This includes blood, pus, vomiting, diarrhea and any other abnormal substance being discharged from any part of your dog’s body.
- Non-Healing wounds: Wounds that are not healing, such as cuts on their paw or face, could be a sign of infection, skin disease or melanoma.
- Extreme or rapid weight loss: Talk to your veterinarian if your dog is not on a diet and you notice a sudden loss in weight. Generally dogs don’t stop eating unless there is a reason, and cancer is only one possibility.
- Lack of energy: Sleeping more than usual, lack of energy at playtime, getting overly tired on normal walks are all possible signs of cancer.
- Changes in urine or stool: blood in the urine or stool, frequent bathroom usage, unusual accidents in the home, difficulty in going to the bathroom are all possible signs of cancer or another ailment.
Most treatment plans will involve some type of surgery to remove the tumor. Depending on the tumor type and location, your veterinarian may recommend adding other treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Many times veterinarians are able to provide treatment in their clinic, but other times they may need to refer to a veterinary oncologist.
Jeri Wagner is a canine behavioral therapist and master trainer. Jeri uses a natural training system leveraging the same communication methods – body language and voice control – that dogs follow as part of their instinctive pack mentality. Training takes place in the home where the problems generally occur. Jeri trains in western Montgomery County, northern Chester County and eastern Berks County. For more information, call 1-877-500 BARK (2275) or visit www.barkbusters.com.
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