Mention the big 'C' word (cancer), and most pet parents cover their ears in dismay. No one wants to discuss the possibility of dog cancer, but the horrible truth is one in three of our furry hounds will contract some form of cancer in their lifetime. That's a lot of sickly hounds in your street alone! Thankfully most canine cancers are treatable if caught early, but as our hounds can't verbalize how they're feeling, it's down to us as pet parents to spot the common signs of cancer in our dogs so they can receive the right treatment quickly.
But before we go one paw further, it's important to note that other conditions, not just cancer, can cause similar symptoms. While learning to identify cancer symptoms in our hounds is all in pet parents' day's work, visiting a vet is essential to get a correct diagnosis. In today's Mountain Hound blog, we look at the potential signs of canine cancer that should have you booking a vet appointment without delay.
Potential Signs of Dog Cancer
Unusual Lumps and Bumps
Lumps and bumps appear on your dog's skin for various reasons; however, some lumps and bumps can be cancerous. One example is Lipoma, a common benign (non-cancerous) fatty tumor that develops beneath the skin's surface. Lipomas are not life-threatening but can cause issues with your hound's movement or compress internal organs if they become large enough.
Because cancerous lumps can form anywhere on your dog's body, be sure to inspect your dog's skin regularly, especially in the armpit and groin areas. Multiple Lipoma's tend to be more prevalent in older dogs.
Changes in Appetite
A sudden loss or appetite gain may suggest gastrointestinal issues or an oral tumor. Monitor your dog's eating habits, and if you notice a significant change, it's best to schedule a vet appointment.
Many types of cancer may affect your dog's respiratory system, including osteosarcoma, melanoma and hemangiosarcoma. If your dog struggles with shortness of breath (labored breathing or seems to be excessively panting, it could be a sign of respiratory distress caused by cancer spreading to their lungs. Immediate veterinary attention is needed in this situation.
Persistent Diarrhea or Vomiting
All dogs get occasional bouts of diarrhea, especially if they've managed to eat a snack that wasn't meant for them! However, gastrointestinal cancers can lead to chronic diarrhea or vomiting. If your hound experiences diarrhea or vomiting that persists for more than a few days, it is essential to seek veterinary advice.
Changes in Regular Dog Behaviors
We all know what happy dog behaviors look like, but negative behavior changes can indicate cancer. For example, watch out for lethargy, decreased interest in activities they previously enjoyed, an increased need for sleep and sudden aggression. Lymphoma and osteosarcoma are common cancers associated with lethargy and pain.
Dark colored sores often found on a hound's eyes, nailbeds, or footpads can be a sign of melanoma. This cancer affects the pigment-producing cells and spreads to deeper tissues and bones. Symptoms of melanoma include eye discharge, sores in the mouth or swelling of the affected limb or paw.
Paws for Thought
If you've spotted these signs of cancer in your hound and are wondering when to take your dog to the vet, the short answer is now! Recognizing signs of dog cancer in your hound can lead to early diagnosis and improve their chances of successful treatment. Of course, not all pet parents (ourselves included) are expert cancer detectors which is why it's so important for your hound to have regular veterinary check-ups to help you pinpoint cancer symptoms before it's too late.