By Dr. Zeoli, Associate Veterinarian

photo-2We all love our pets and want them to be healthy and live long, fulfilling lives. May is Pet Cancer Awareness Month and all pets, regardless of breed, are unfortunately susceptible. Because cancer is the leading cause of death due to illness, it is important to know what to watch out for. Here at Pet Dominion, we recommend comprehensive annual exams for pets under the age of 7 and semi-annual wellness exams for pets 7 years and older in order to detect illness at the earliest signs. When your pets are at home, there are signs that you can watch for as well. If you notice any of the signs listed below, your pet should be examined by a veterinarian in order to determine if it is a matter of concern.

Potential Cancer Warning Signs

  • Abnormal lumps or bumps- Especially any lump that is rapidly growing in size or changing appearance (turning colors, losing hair, becoming ulcerated).
  • Chronic weight loss- If you pet is not on a diet, but is continuing to lose weight it could be due to illness.
  • Sores that won’t heal- This could be a sign of cancer or infection and should be examined.
  • Loss of appetite, chronic vomiting, or chronic diarrhea – These could be the first signs of illness associated with the gastrointestinal tract, or other internal organs.
  • Bleeding- from any location without evidence of trauma should be further investigated to determine the cause.
  • Limping- There are many causes of lameness, including: nerve, bone, and muscle cancers
  • Odor from the mouth or difficulty eating or swallowing: These are common signs of cancer in the neck or oral cavity
  • Cough- this could indicate cancer in the lungs
  • Difficulty breathing, urinating, or defecating- If you pet develops any of these signs they should be evaluated immediately.
  • Abdominal distention- This could be due to enlarged abdominal organs, masses, or fluid developing within the abdominal cavity.

The most important thing to remember is that if your pet does have any of these signs, it does not mean that they have cancer. There are many causes for all of them and your pet should be examined to determine the diagnosis. The good news is that if your pet is diagnosed with cancer it is often treatable and can even be curable in certain cases. Many of the same treatments that are available for humans are now available for pets, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery.

If you have any questions or concerns about your pet, please feel free to call our office at 301-258-0333 or have your pet examined by one of our doctors. Remember – the earlier the detection and diagnosis, the better the options may be for treatment!