Nov.- Pet Cancer Awareness Month

Some Physical Signs Can Mean Cancer

sick-dog.jpgDid you to know that cancer is the #1 disease-related killer of pets? 

Pets of any age can develop cancer, but the disease is generally more common in adult and older animals. Certain breeds of dogs a have a higher incidence of some types of cancers –large and giant breeds, and Boxers and Golden Retrievers, for example. Purebred cats seem to be more likely to develop cancer than mixed breed ones.

Early detection of pet cancer is critical for successful treatment and recovery, so regular check-ups are important. Twice-yearly wellness exams and annual blood screenings are recommended to help catch cancers while they are small and more easily cured. Dr. Kara, an expert in dog pain relief, and one of the leading vets in Springfield, MO is ready to help you keep your pets healthy and vital.

Signs to look for at home

1. Lumps and Bumps. Swollen lymph nodes (glands) are located in a number of places in body, but if you find enlarged nodes behind the knee or jaw, that can suggest lymphoma. A biopsy can aid in diagnosis, so a visit to the vet is essential. And any enlarging or changing lump or wound that will not heal, needs to be examined as well.

2. Abdominal Distention. A swollen or rapidly enlarging belly can occur if there is a mass or tumor growing; it may also indicate bleeding into the abdomen. Your vet can perform a radiograph or ultrasound to determine the cause of the swelling.

3. Chronic Weight Loss. If your pet is eating normally but losing weight, you should have your pet checked, because many cancer patients show weight loss. Even if no cancer is found, this symptom indicates that something is wrong and needs to be diagnosed by the vet.

4. Chronic Vomiting or Diarrhea. Unexplained and continuing vomiting or diarrhea needs prompt investigation, because tumors of the gastrointestinal tract can cause these symptoms. Your vert may use radiographs, ultrasound examinations or endoscopy as diagnostic tools .

5. Unexplained Bleeding. If your pet has not suffered trauma to the mouth, nose, penis, vagina or gums and is bleeding, you need to take the pet to the veterinarian. Most bleeding disorders are usually discovered while pets are young. When unexplained bleeding starts in an older pet, cancer is a first concern.

6. Cough. A dry, non-productive cough in an older pet may well be a sign of lung cancer. There are many causes of cough in dogs and cats, and any continuing cough needs to be diagnosed.

7. Lameness. Unexplained lameness -- especially in large or giant breed dogs is a very common sign of bone cancer. Limping or other indications of pain while moving is generally arthritic or from joint or muscle disease, but can also indicate bone cancer and should be checked by the vet.

8. Bowel or bladder changes. A pet straining to pass urine, or bloody urine, usually indicates a common urinary tract infection. However, if antibiotics don't clear up the problem or if it tends to reoccur, cancer of the bladder may be the underlying cause. Difficulty in passing stool, frequent attempts at bowel movements, and bloody stool are potential signs of cancer.

9. Oral and foul body odors. Lack of adequate oral care can give your dog "doggy breath," but the odor caused by an oral tumor is considerably more foul. And if there is a nasty odor emanating from any sore or unusual spot on the pet's skin, it warrants an exam. Extremely foul excrement or unpleasant smelling urine can also indicate cancer growth and needs examination.

10. Lack of appetite. Dogs and cats never just quit eating...there's always a cause. Although there are a number of physical complaints that might keep a pet from chowing down, it does need to be discussed with your vet. Oral tumors can make eating or swallowing difficult or painful.

11. Lethargy or depression. If your formerly playful pet suddenly seems listless, is sleeping more and doesn't want to walk, play or exercise, cancer may be a cause. Although these symptoms can be have other causes, they do indicate something is wrong with your pet. 

More questions about cancer in dogs and cats? Contact the veterinarians at your Springfield vet center...Hometown Veterinary Hospital.