If you have a pet, chances are you consider them to be an integral part of your family. Whether you have a dog, cat, bird, or any other animal, pets offer the comfort and support we need everyday. It’s important to be vigilant about your pet’s health needs, just as you would your own.
According to Dr. Gerald Post, founder of the Animal Cancer Foundation, cancer is the leading cause of death in both pet cats and dogs. Dr. Post suggests the following signs to look out for to make sure your pet can get the proper care it needs:
Check for swollen lymph nodes
Much like their owners, pets can develop swollen lymph nodes when they get sick. When pets’ nodes are enlarged, however, they can be an indicator of lymphoma, a common form of cancer. These glands are present throughout the body, so check particularly for swelling or bumps behind the jaw of your pet or behind their knees.
If you see that your pet’s belly has become increasingly larger in a short period of time, it could be a sign that a tumor or cyst is growing in their abdomen.
Chronic weight loss
Dr. Post notes that if you have not put your pet on a diet and they have lost a considerable amount of weight very quickly, it could be signs of cancer. The weight loss itself may not be the cause of the cancer, however, many pets who do have cancer tend to lose weight very quickly.
Bleeding or discharge
The Flint Animal Cancer Center at Colorado State University recommends consulting with your veterinarian if your pet exhibits any form of abnormal discharge in their urine, or any part of their body. While bleeding could be from physical trauma, unexplained bleeding can be an indicator of an internal issue.
If your pet has a persistent dry cough and it is non-productive (meaning nothing is coming out of their mouth), it can be a sign of lung cancer. There can be other alternative causes to these coughs, says Dr. Post, although consulting your doctor can never hurt.
Lameness or inability to use limbs
As animals get older, their locomotive functions can deteriorate. An unexplained and sudden lameness in older, bigger dogs is a very common sign of bone cancer, according to Dr. Post
Straining to urinate
If you notice your pet straining to urinate, it can be a very telling sign of a urinary tract infection, which is sometimes common in pets. If there is simultaneous bleeding and straining to urinate and they are not treated with antibiotics, cancer of the bladder could be the cause of it.
Chronic diarrhea or vomiting
Tumors can often form in the gastrointestinal tract, according to Dr. Post, which can lead to chronic or persistent vomiting and/or diarrhea.
Difficulty swallowing or eating
Make sure to always keep an eye on what your pet eats and how they eat. Difficulty eating or swallowing can indicate issues with a pet’s appetite as well as their mouth or neck. If your pet has difficulty doing any of these, it could be a sign of cancer in either of these two areas.
Loss of stamina
Our pets can become more fatigued and physically slower as they age. However, the Flint Animal Cancer Center cites this as one of the first signs that something could be wrong with your pet if it comes on suddenly. Even as we accept their age, it never hurts to keep a watchful eye for this small, yet possibly significant sign.