Pets Can Show Warning Signs Before Cancer Diagnosis

Image of a thin cat.

Warning signs can be present in your family pet before the veterinarian makes an actual diagnosis. You'll want to be alert and watch for warning signs as preventative measures, and at the same time provide your pet with the best nutrition, exercise program and lifestyle possible for his or her activity levels and overall health.

"Cancer is an incredibly challenging and difficult disease," says Cheryl London, a board-certified oncologist and associate professor at Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Only your veterinarian can tell you if your pet has the dreaded "c" disease.

Only your veterinarian can help you through the diagnosis, treatment and later outcomes, so you'll want to work closely with your vet if your pet becomes ill for any reason. It's the best partnership you can make and will allow you opportunities to provide great care for your beloved companion.

Remember to keep visits consistent, call with questions and follow through on treatment recommendations. Various signs can present themselves and prompt concern for your pet's well being. Your vet will let you know if they're danger signs. What to you look for:

Lack of usual excitement for exercising, playtime and walks; reduced endurance during these activities. Keep your eyes open and pay attention to your companion's hints. This can be an early indicator that he or she is not feeling their best!

Trouble walking, moving, changes in balance or ability to run, play or work. Persistent difficulty with walking, moving, balance changes or inability to carry on with daily activities can be present for a number of reasons, not just cancer. Look to your favorite veterinarian to identify the cause of lameness, treatment and return to good health. Note that some cancers that may involve lameness include bone cancer, and cancer of the muscle or nerves.

Delayed-healing. If your pet experiences delayed healing during repair of typical sores or wounds, check with your vet for guidance. Sores that don't heal well or completely can be attributed to infection or disease. When you run your hands over your companion during massage and rub-down sessions, you can quickly zero in on troublesome areas that may show signs of swelling. Report these areas, too!

Difficulty with normal functions. Normal functions include breathing, and bladder or bowel toileting. Any problems that arise with these functions should be brought to your vet's attention immediately.

Loss of unexplained weight. Pets can gain or add weight much like your family members. But when that weight is lost without intention, exercise or change in food, nutrition or activity levels, your vet needs to get a phone call and an appointment to evaluate your pet.

Odors that are offensive. Let's face it, pets can smell offensive because of infrequent bathing, lack of dental care, improper or inadequate nutrition, or any number of other reasons. Among those reasons are also tumors related to the anus, mouth or nose.

Bleeding from any opening in the body, this includes discharge like vomiting and diarrhea. Most of the reasons bleeding will occur are not normal. Vomiting and diarrhea are not normal body functions, either.

Swallowing troubles or eating difficulties. Unfortunately, this can be a sign or mouth-related cancer or cancer within the neck area.

Remember that your companion's health and well being depend on you to read the signs given, act on those signs and reach out to for help. Your pets depend on you to help them have the best life possible and live that life to their best ability.