Cancer is a dreaded disease. Even more so when it afflicts your dog because ultimately it’s a creature that cannot speak to let us know when something is troubling him or her and what exactly that is. Ergo, it becomes necessary for us to remain updated and keep educating ourselves about the signs, symptoms, and treatment of cancer in dogs.
If you catch any of these symptoms, you can hopefully intervene early before cancer gets worse and ensure that your dog recovers and goes on to live a long and fulfilling life.
Bear in mind that only a certified veterinary doctor can accurately diagnose this disease and take any medical recourse as necessary.
Majorly, the cancers which are found in dogs are –
- Bladder and Testicular cancer
- Melanoma (skin cancer)
- Malignant lymphoma (affects the immune system)
- Malignant histiocytosis (unnatural growth in the number of immune cells)
- Brain cancer
- Osteosarcoma (bone cancer)
- Mouth and Nose cancer
While it can be overwhelming to even imagine your little friend having cancer, medical experts have consistently said that the key to successfully treating cancer is meticulous attention to your dog’s health and early medical intervention.
As a dog parent, you should be constantly paying close attention to your dog’s overall health and watching out for symptoms and indications of cancer as listed below.
1. Unexplainable lumps under your dog’s skin
The first and most common sign of any type of cancer is the manifestation of unexplained lumps just under the dog’s skin. The only way to check for these is to be vigilant while giving your dog boops and belly and body rubs on a periodic basis.
2. Malodors from your dog’s body
Cancers create malodours from the mouth, nose, ears, or even other parts of a dog’s body because of the growth of anaerobic or fungal infections due to cancer. Now, this does not mean that you must panic every time you smell your dog’s bad breath. That could simply be the result of plaque build-up or poor oral health. However, it is necessary to pay attention to consistent malodours emanating from the dog’s orifices.
3. Abdominal swelling
While abdominal swelling could also be due to other factors, it is necessary to consult a veterinarian about them to rule out or confirm the possibility of cancer. Even if it turns out to be entirely unrelated to cancer, it is best to get your dog treated for any underlying conditions that cause such swelling.
Most dogs make it well known if they are in pain by howling or whining. But some don’t make it that obvious. In such cases, it is necessary to keep a close watch over your dog’s habits and characteristics. For example, your dog may change its gait if it experiences pain in its abdominal region or its joints. Whenever you understand that your dog is experiencing some sort of pain, it is highly advisable to seek a vet’s opinion.
5. Increased bathroom accidents
If your dog starts to stray from its normal bathroom schedule consistently, it may be a cause for concern. This could often point to the bladder or testicular cancer. Therefore, it becomes necessary for you to pay attention to any drastic changes concerning your dog’s bathroom habits.
6. Distress in breathing
If your dog displays signs of extreme coughing or difficulties in normal breathing, it could point to the existence of cancerous tumors in the lungs or other parts of its body. Consult your veterinary care provider in case you notice distress in your dog’s breathing.
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While these are the most common symptoms of early cancer manifestation in dogs, if you do notice any other concerning issues regarding your dog’s health, a professional medical opinion is highly advisable. Make no mistake, cancer is undoubtedly a potentially fatal disease. However, early intervention plays a crucial role in reversing the damage caused by cancer. The first step to treating cancer is detection and identification. The safest way to detect cancers is to have complete medical check-ups conducted for your dog, in consultation with your veterinarian.
If the vet diagnoses your dog with cancer, before even considering treatment, a few factors play an all-important role in determining the prognosis and treatment of the disease. To begin with, the overall health of the dog is taken into account. If a dog is already frail and immunocompromised for any reason, putting it through the pain of cancer treatments is close to inhumane. Further, the biological tendencies and characteristics of the tumor are taken into account before starting a specific treatment too. Depending upon the stage of cancer, the vet could prescribe treatment by surgery (if the tumor has not metastasized), radiation and chemotherapy (for cancers at more severe stages), or by unconventional means such as homeopathy or ayurvedic and herbal treatments.
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If your dog has been diagnosed with cancer, do consult your veterinarian regarding the potential benefits and downfalls that your dog could encounter. If at all, the case is such that treatment can yield only a slim chance of full recovery, it may be apt to consider other forms of treatment or maybe just symptomatic treatment to alleviate your dog’s pain. It is difficult to imagine yourself in that position, but ultimately, as dog parents, we would always want our dog to be as happy as possible. Once again, the importance of early intervention cannot be underplayed or over-emphasized. It could be a matter of life and death.
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