Top 10 Warning Signs of Cancer in Dogs and Cats

May is Pet Cancer Awareness Month, a time to spread awareness of the symptoms of cancer in dogs and cats. As cancer is the leading cause of death in cats and dogs, knowing the symptoms your pets may present if they develop the disease can help you and your vet diagnose and treat your pet sooner. In order to help you protect your pet’s health, petMD.com has pulled together the top 10 warning signs of cancer in dogs and cats.

1. Lumps and Bumps: Not every lump or bump is necessarily cancerous, but consulting with your vet is the only way to be sure. If the lump is growing or not resolving itself, contact your vet and he or she will do a biopsy to determine the contents of the bump.

2. Abnormal Odors: Foul odors from any of your cat or dog’s orifices and/or body parts may be a cause for concern. Cancers of the mouth, nose, or anal regions can cause your pet to emit offensive odors.

3. Abnormal Discharges: Discharges such as blood, pus, vomit, diarrhea, and any other abnormal substance being excreted from your pet’s body should be checked out by a veterinarian immediately. A bloated or distended stomach could also be a sign of internal discharge.

4. Non-Healing Wounds: Lacerations or sores that do not heal within a normal time range on the surface of your cat or dog’s body may indicate infection, skin disease, and possibly cancer.

5. Weight Loss: Sudden weight loss in cats and dogs not on a diet can be an indicator of many diseases and illnesses. If coupled with another warning sign of cancer, you should contact your vet right away and inform him or her about your pet’s symptoms.

6. Change in Appetite: While a lack of appetite in dogs and cats can be an indicator of many things, they never stop eating without a cause. Not necessarily a sign of cancer, a decrease in appetite can indicate an oral tumor, which would make it painful and difficult for your pet to eat and swallow.

7. Coughing or Difficulty Breathing: Although symptoms of heart and lung disease, coughing and abnormal breathing can also indicate cancer. This symptom will most likely occur if the cancer in your pet’s body has metastasized into his or her lungs.

8. Lethargy and Depression: If your pet has cancer, there is a chance that he or she will suffer from depression and sleep more, become less playful, and be less willing to go for walks. Although lethargy or depression in dogs and cats can set in with any illness, it is commonly seen in pets that have cancer.

9. Changes in Bathroom Habits: Any changes in your pet’s bathroom habits including difficulty using the bathroom, frequent bathroom use, and blood in urine or stools are potential warning signs that cancer has developed in your pet.

10. Evidence of Pain: Limping or other evidence of your dog or cat in pain when he or she is active, or if the pain is too great for them to be active, can be indications of cancer of the bone.

While no one sign purely indicates cancer, a cat or dog displaying two or more of these symptoms should be taken to the veterinarian for an exam so that he or she can be properly diagnosed and treated accordingly, because early detection can make all of the difference in the case of a positive diagnosis.







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33 comments

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    May 21, 2012 4:05 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Mina

    This is great for people to know, but the one thing I don’t see he is Hair loss. I lost my beagle to Lymphoma and hair loss was the only sign we had.

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    May 21, 2012 4:11 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Charlotte

    What kind of hair loss Mina? Patchy? All over? My dog has had hair loss due to staph infections in his later years.

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    May 21, 2012 4:11 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Mark

    Hombre and me are fighting together to defeat his bone cancer. We already knocked his liposarcoma into submission.

    Reply
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    May 21, 2012 4:14 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Kirsten

    You also need to know if your breed, and mixed breeds can be susceptible to the pure breeds, are more likely to develop. For instance GSD, from what I was told by my vet in Massachusetts, are likely to develop spleen cancer, which is what killed my last dog. He showed signs of being sick, took him in, we did a general exam, needle biopsy of a lump, and he was dead before the results were in. He was ill for maybe 2 weeks.

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      July 25, 2013 7:53 pmPosted 1 year ago
      mary

      Kirsten I just lost my baby 4 months ago he was with me for9years and 7 month he got bloted I call his vet they not wouldn’t check him out they wanted 300 dollars first I ask they if I could pay per month they wouldn’t see him they let my baby die I call them and told them they lost me as their customer because they let my baby die he was their patient and wouldn’t save him they let him die I know you send this message last year on may21 2012 but I didn’t have a computer the I hope you see this message message I wrote you he passed away 3 18 2013 he was born 8 8 2003 I buried him in my backyard with his blanket wrap around I put a little white fence around his grave with white rocks on top also a white cross that tells his name when he was born he has little angle a dog flowers in a vase ,plastic ones everything I put there with clear bags over them so that the sun won’t get to faded and keep the rain off of them I hope I get a answer back soon Mary

      Reply
  • May 21, 2012 4:18 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Alexandra

    Our GSD died of spleen cancer as well. He was gone within a week. Although, the cancer had not spread from his spleen, he was 12 and didn’t wake up after the surgery.

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      December 9, 2012 1:43 pmPosted 1 year ago
      C

      I am so sorry.

      Reply
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    May 21, 2012 4:22 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Gina

    We found our dogs thyroid cancer while scratching his neck. Took him to the vet. This is a great article. Thank you

    Reply
  • May 21, 2012 4:24 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Maria

    My old lab has some of these symptoms, made an appointment for him for this Saturday. Hope all goes well as I adore my baby.

    Reply
  • May 21, 2012 4:38 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Samantha

    My friend lost both her gsds to spleen cancer and my old (only 10) lab bitch had a cough within 3 weeks she had lost 5kg and I didn’t wake her up from her exploratory op …..rip Millie I miss ya girl xxx

    Reply
  • May 21, 2012 4:40 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Anonymous

    I have to have a Mast Cell Tumor removed on Friday by a specialist surgeon cause it’s so close to my tail and they have to create a little flap. It’s only the size of a pea but a 3 cm radius has to be taken to hopefully get a clear margin. Mum checks me over all the time, just to be sure. I am going to be fine but mum and dad love be so very much they’re worried sick. Great article…thank you!! :-D

    Reply
  • May 21, 2012 4:41 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Gillian

    Good luck Dexter x

    Reply
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    May 21, 2012 4:51 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Lalana

    Cancer sucks no matter if you have two legs or four!

    Reply
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    May 21, 2012 4:55 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Allison

    My Brodie GSP was diagnosed right @ 3 years ago. Vet said he would make it 6 months. I cherish every day with him.

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      July 25, 2013 8:08 pmPosted 1 year ago
      mary

      you are right its not us their owners its the vets because they all the time want a lot of money off the animals should have a vet that will take their needs free that loves animals and wants to help low income and poor people that don’t get very much money from mary

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      January 6, 2014 2:15 amPosted 8 months ago
      Anonymous

      I am sry to hear about ur dog .. I love dogs n I knw bout that felling after reading this I got tears In my eyeys:-[ :( :(:(:(

      Reply
  • May 21, 2012 5:02 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Amanda

    Ummm no actually its not the leading cause of death. Its idiot humans that are the number one cause of death.

    Reply
  • May 21, 2012 5:08 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Karen

    Thanks for the information!

    Reply
    • November 18, 2013 12:30 amPosted 10 months ago
      DELILAH

      um im weard a lot

      Reply
  • May 21, 2012 5:12 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Laurie

    My boy Biscuit (Chinese Shar Pei) had Mast Cell Cancer appx 2.5 years ago and had a tumor removed by surgery. We’ve been treating him with K9 Immunity ever since and I believe it has helped him remain cancer free… http://www.alohamedicinals.com They will work with your Vet for the best possible outcome…

    Reply
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    May 21, 2012 5:21 pmPosted 2 years ago
    HBobbie

    Thank you for posting this information for us furbaby Moms

    Reply
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    May 21, 2012 5:27 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Christine

    Very valuable info! Will always keep in mind! Thank you!

    Reply
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    May 21, 2012 5:59 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Jen

    The only one my Beau Beau had was lumps. It was lymphoma. :(

    Reply
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    May 21, 2012 6:42 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Marion

    My dog is a blood donor and gets a complete blood, fecal and urine work up once a year for free
    Its a great little perk
    If you aren’t sure you can afford the tests on your own why not look into blood donation in your area?
    Donation is quick and not any harder on the dog than it is on you – my Ruby bounces back in a day or two and she gets to save lives!

    Reply
  • May 21, 2012 9:03 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Fran

    Hugs^^^Orion crossed from it 2 yrs. ago Weds….

    Reply
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    May 21, 2012 10:39 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Tammy

    Pib has 6 of the 10.

    Reply
  • May 21, 2012 10:51 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Sandy

    Praying for you and your family Dexter !

    Reply
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    May 22, 2012 2:36 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Ramona

    Sadly not any of these were evident with my Sarge. He was diagnosed with epilepsy at age 1 1/2. We now assume that the seizures were caused by brain cancer. Sargie passed shortly after his 4th birthday. He went into a seizure and didn’t come out. He was full of life, ate like a fiend, playful, fun and a wonderful baby. He had no tumors or patches or odd colour skin. The only indication of something was the seizures. We did treat the seizures with medication and for a year and a half to two years he was seizure free. Cancer never even entered into our heads or the Vets.

    Reply
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    December 10, 2012 2:12 pmPosted 1 year ago
    Anonymous

    My Golden Retriever “Samson” just got diagnosed with cancer in the lymph nodes. He’s 10 and I’d like to have him around longer but I’m struggling on what’s the best thing for him is right now…

    Reply
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    October 13, 2013 12:50 amPosted 11 months ago
    Ashley

    Our German Shepard lab mix has all of a sudden in the past couple of weeks developed a big bump on his back right leg. I am hoping its not something too serious cause I can not afford a vet visit or bill.

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    December 21, 2013 1:56 amPosted 9 months ago
    Candy

    I think my dog has cancer. She is very old and has a few symptoms. Can’t afford a vet bill.

    Reply
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    June 5, 2014 8:48 pmPosted 3 months ago
    Connie Gallegos

    I gotta question for those of u who r dog lovers. I have a husky he sheds every summer. Lately he hasn’t been eating very much. I can tell he has lost weight. He sleeps a lot but whenever we take him outside he runs round and goes crazy. I’m just worried cuz he doesn’t eat like he use to and he looks sad. The only symptoms I see, don’t eat much, loss weight n sleeps all day and runs round all night

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    June 23, 2014 2:52 pmPosted 3 months ago
    Anonymous

    My dog has like half of these, very worried.

    Reply

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