November is National Pet Cancer Awareness Month and the perfect time to take the necessary precautions to keep your furry friend safe and healthy. Cancer not only affects our friends and family but our pets as well, and it’s important to notice these signs and symptoms early on in order to prevent and treat the disease. Blue Buffalo teamed up with veterinary oncologist Dr. Gerry Post to educate pet owners on specific symptoms and changes to be aware of in your pet. Below are some of the warning signs Dr. Post suggests owners be on the lookout for. To learn more about Pet Cancer Awareness visit PetCancerAwareness.org.
Swollen lymph nodes
Lymph nodes are located throughout the body but detected most easily behind the jaw or behind the knee of our pets. When the lymph nodes are enlarged, a common form of cancer called lymphoma can be a suggested diagnosis. Through a biopsy or cytology these enlarged lymph nodes can be detected.
An enlarging or changing lump
Any lump on a pet that is changing in shape, texture or size should have a biopsy.
If you notice your pet's stomach becoming rapidly enlarged, this may suggest a mass, bleeding or tumor in the abdomen. Consult your vet on scheduling a radiograph or an ultrasound to explore the issue.
Chronic weight loss
If you notice a decrease in your pet’s weight and they are not on a diet, you should have your pet checked by a veterinarian. This does not necessarily indicate cancer but may be a warning sign of another issue.
Chronic vomiting or diarrhea
It’s important to investigate unexplained vomiting or diarrhea your pet may be experiencing. The gastrointestinal tract can be affected by chronic vomiting and/or diarrhea. Some useful diagnostic tools are radiographs, ultrasound examinations and endoscopy.
Unexplained bleeding from the mouth, nose, penis, vagina or gums in older pets not due to trauma should be examined by a veterinarian.
If you tend to notice a dry, nonproductive cough in older pets, consult your veterinarian about a chest radiograph to further review the issue.
Unexplained lameness in older, large breeds can be a common sign of bone cancer. Radiographs are useful tools in detecting cancer of the bone in your pet.
Straining to urinate
Straining to urinate or blood in urine can be commonly diagnosed as a urinary tract infection. If the problem is not controlled by antibiotics and becomes recurrent, cancer of the bladder can be the issue. Cystoscopy and other techniques can help in the diagnosis.
Oral tumors can occur in pets and cause a change in chewing manner and food preference. If you notice a foul odor, consult your vet about an oral examination or CT scan to determine the problem.