Anybody can be impacted by cancer in some form, extending to family members and loved ones of us all. And if you have a dog, the odds are actually significantly higher that cancer will creep into your life. In fact, according to veterinary oncologist Dave Ruslander, 50% of dogs over the age of 10 will develop some form of cancer.
So with cancer being so prominent amongst dogs, here are a few facts to arm yourself with about cancer and dogs:
Tumors are common amongst older dogs
Dogs develop tumors and unusual growths as they get older, which can be alarming for any dog owner. It’s important to note that doesn’t always equate to cancer, though, as fatty deposits and benign lumps are common for dogs at this point in their life. This means regular checkups to get lumps inspected are a must.
Be aware of recurring lesions and wounds that don’t heal
Persistent wounds can be signs of abnormal cell growth. Your average small wound or lesion will noticeably heal over time in a healthy pup, with natural scabbing and hair growing back. But if that cut or lesion won’t heal, you should certainly see a vet.
It’s natural for your dog to start walking differently as it ages, but a suddenly noticeable change in their walk like limping or favoring a limb can signal serious bone pain. Without a significant injury to connect this lameness to, this can be a sign of bone cancer in older dogs. Of course, dogs are also prone to diseases like arthritis, so it’s important to note that lameness as a result of cancer would most often be sudden.
The same goes for your dog’s overall energy and pep when moving about. Yes, an older dog is going to slow down through the years. But again, this is a gradual process and not typically something that changes significantly in a short period of time. When your dog experiences a noticeable and unexplained drop in their energy, it can be a sign of illness or disease. Aside from just energy loss, your dog may be less enthusiastic about an old favorite toy or show less interest when you come home at the end of the day.
While this doesn’t automatically signal cancer, it’s something to watch out for.
Weird discharges from the eyes or sudden bloody noses can sometimes indicate certain types of eye and skin cancers. The same goes for sores and bleeding in the mouth, with can signal oral tumors. The dangers of these are that we often assume any discharge or odor from the mouth are normal for an older dog when in fact, they can sometimes be a cause for concern if the odor is unusual.
Changes in weight
A rapid and significant weight loss can be a very common sign of cancer for dogs. This is often associated with gastrointestinal tumors. Meanwhile, gaining weight suddenly can be a sign of cancer as well.