"10 Signs of Cancer in Dogs

"10 Signs of Cancer in Dogs

Health & Safety

Every dog owner worries about their pets as they get older because there many health issues which can raise their ugly heads as time marches on. One condition that any pet owner dreads is cancer"". Hearing your dog has developed some form of cancer has to be the worst news ever. The number of our canine friends that will develop one form of cancer or another is quite staggering – studiers show that an estimated one in three dogs may develop cancer during the course of their lives and it's not just pure bred dogs either because mixed breeds too are included in these figures.

However, with this said, some dogs breeds are considered as high risk candidates for cancer and this includes the following:

  • Great Danes
  • Saint Bernards
  • Boxers
  • Boston Terriers
  • Golden Retrievers

Although canine cancer can develop in dogs of any age, it is more likely to take hold in an older dog. Just like humans, dogs are living longer due to the better veterinary care and the higher quality nutrition that's available these days.

The Most Common Forms of Canine Cancer

There are many forms of cancer that can attack our lovely four-legged friends with some being more commonly seen in certain breeds than others. With this said, the most commonly seen canine cancers are as follows:

  • Lymphoma
  • Malignant Histiocytosis
  • Hemangiosarcoma
  • Mammary Cancer
  • Mast Cell Tumours
  • Melanoma
  • Osteosarcoma
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Transitional Cell Carcinoma

The Importance of Early Diagnosis

These days veterinary medicine has come on in leaps and bounds. As such vets can treat many forms of canine cancer with varying degrees of success using modern techniques. This includes surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy and radiation. However, for a treatment to be effective and therefore successful, an early diagnosis is essential because the more a cancer spreads throughout the body, the harder it is to treat.

Dog owners typically find a lump or a new bump on their pets which is the first alert they may have that something very nasty could be going on. However, just because you find a suspicious lump or bump does not mean it is cancerous but a vet would have to carry out certain tests earlier rather than later to determine whether a lump malignant or benign.

10 Signs to Watch Out For

Apart from strange new lumps or bumps on your pet's body, there are other signs to watch out for which includes the following:

  • An abnormal swelling that gets bigger quite quickly
  • A sore that will not heal
  • Loss of weight
  • Loss of appetite
  • A discharge or bleeding from a body opening
  • An offensive odour
  • Difficulty in swallowing and therefore eating
  • A reluctance to go for a walk
  • Stiffness
  • Difficulty breathing, defecating and/or urinating

If you notice your dog displaying any of the above symptoms, it is crucial to get them to the vet so they can undergo a thorough examination. Should the diagnosis be confirmed as some form of cancer, you should ask for a second opinion preferably from an oncologist so they could discuss treatment options with you.


There are a few canine cancers which can be treated and indeed cured with a single or a combination of treatments. However, many cancers commonly seen in dogs cannot be treated nor can they be cured. As such a vet would recommend a way of delaying the inevitable by offering some form of pain relief treatment. However, many dog owners prefer to go down the route of palliative care.


In truth, it is not possible to prevent all canine cancers from raising their ugly heads but with this said, owners can help reduce the risk of a few of them from developing. Spaying and neutering dogs when they are young is one way of preventing certain reproductive cancers.

These days a few vets recommend dogs be fed antioxidants and vitamins A,C, E, beta carotene , lycopene and selenium which is an important mineral in their diets which are all thought to help stave off certain forms of canine cancers. Diet plays a vital role as does regular exercise which is why it's so important to feed dogs a healthy, good quality diet from an early age and to ensure they get all the exercise they need to stay happy and healthy.


Any form of canine cancer when diagnosed and caught early enough gives a dog a better chance of living out the remainder of their lives without being in too much pain. The majority of cancers cannot be cured but with the right type of pain relief, dogs can be made more comfortable. However, veterinary care has come on in leaps and bounds which means that vets can treat some cancers quite successfully as long as they are caught early enough.


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