Common Signs and Symptoms
Despite older dogs being at higher risk, cancer can occur in dogs of any age. The Veterinary Cancer Society estimates that around 25 percent of all dogs will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives.
In other words, approximately six million new cancers are diagnosed each year, in dogs in the US alone. Thankfully, most of these cases will be highly treatable, especially when diseases are discovered at an early stage.
A key part of early detection is about close observation from owners—keeping an eye out for possible early warning signs or symptoms that can make a big difference in your dog’s prognosis, especially if they’re at a senior age.
Visual clues like abnormal lumps, cysts, swellings on your dog’s skin, or tender spots in their mouth, can sometimes be easier to catch. Other visual symptoms include sores that don’t seem to be healing, or bleeding and discharge from orifices.
Other symptoms require paying attention to a dog’s physiology and behavioral habits. Pups having difficulty moving their bowels, urinating, swallowing, chewing, or breathing definitely deserve a check up.
Similarly, pain from developing tumors in the mouth or gastrointestinal tract can lead to avoidance behaviours—either refusing to eat, or avoiding company altogether (weight loss is a related symptom here).
Lethargic behavior or general weakness can be another behavioral warning sign. Reluctance to move around, low energy levels, tense or aggravated behavior, and restlessness, all might indicate the presence of underlying pain or discomfort.
In fact, any noticeable change to a pet’s physical appearance, behavior, or daily habits should warrant a call to the veterinarian. In most cases, what looks like a worrying set of symptoms turns out to have a simple environmental or topical fix, but where there is something more serious, it’s worth repeating: early detection can seriously help your pet’s recovery.