Top 10 Signs of Cancer in Pets


Our pets suffer from many of the same diseases that we do, including cancer. However, their human family members sometimes mistake cancer symptoms for typical signs of aging since cats and dogs age at an accelerated rate compared to human aging. While some of the symptoms described below can also occur with aging, it’s important to schedule an appointment for your cat, dog, or exotic pet at Cedar Pet Clinic Lake Elmo if you notice new or unusual symptoms.

Unfortunately, cancer is one of the leading causes of death in companion animals and it is especially prevalent in older dogs. As with most diseases, early detection greatly increases options for treatment and improved quality of life and time with you. We urge you to familiarize yourself with these common cancer symptoms, especially since November is Pet Cancer Awareness Month.

  1. Any appetite change, including the refusal to eat or showing little interest in eating
  2. Bodily discharge such as vomit, pus, blood, or diarrhea
  3. Persistent cough, difficulty catching their breath, and sometimes gasping to get air into the lungs
  4. Offensive odor emanating from open masses or wounds
  5. Lethargy, included an unwillingness to play or exercise. If your pet is suddenly sleeping more or seems depressed, don’t write it off to old age. It could be one of the earliest signs of cancer
  6. Enlarged or bloated abdomen
  7. A wound that doesn’t heal as expected could be one of the first signs of skin cancer in pets. A cut or wound could also heal initially and then return and scab over repeatedly
  8. Suddenly favoring some limbs over others or a limp when walking
  9. Unexpected and sudden weight loss
  10. Any new mass on your pet’s body

These ten items are not an exhaustive list of cancer symptoms, and may be signs of other disease. It's important to pay attention to any clues your pet provides to you about his or her health, and call us if you've noticed changes.

A Proactive Approach is Best

Even if you feel sure that your pet is simply aging and doesn’t have cancer, it’s better to rule it out than to assume. A cancer diagnosis catches most pet owners by surprise. The good news is that pet cancer doesn’t always mean a fatal outcome. The earlier we can diagnose a specific type of cancer in your pet, the more likely we will be able to treat it and help him feel comfortable. Cedar Pet Clinic Lake Elmo will do everything possible to give you more years with your beloved companion.

Image credit: Neniia Lanti / iStock / Getty Images Plus

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Animal Emergency & Referral Center of MN
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St. Paul, MN 55012
(located 2 blocks east of 35E)