Cancer is a terrible disease that, sadly, affects not only a great number of people, but a great number of dogs too. One of the worst things you can hear from your vet is that your beloved four-legged companion has cancer. You might feel devastated and desperate, always asking yourself if there was anything you could have done to prevent this from happening.
While you might not be able to prevent cancer, a lot can be done if you catch it in an early phase. Here’s what you should know to make sure your furry friend is healthy.
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Warning signs to consider
Loss of appetite
As a responsible dog owner, you’re probably carefully monitoring their diet and the portions they’re eating during the day. Dogs are usually suckers for treats and food in general, and they love eating. They will look at you while you’re having lunch and follow you around when you bring food to the table, hoping that you’ll give them a bite.
If you notice that your dog is suddenly eating less than before and that they’re no longer looking forward to meals, it might be a reason for concern.
Severe weight loss
If you’ve recently put your dog on a diet because the vet suggested they should lose some weight and you notice the improvement, that’s great! Obesity in dogs can lead to severe health problems, and when you notice that your dog is losing weight, you might be glad.
On the other hand, if you haven’t changed your dog’s diet and still, you notice they are losing weight, it might be a reason for concern. There might be something in their intestines or neck that’s making it difficult for them to eat or digest food. Then you should take them to a vet as soon as possible.
Bumps and lumps
This is the most obvious sign of cancer and one of the reasons why you should pet your dog often and pet them all over. Bumps or lumps that keep growing under the skin are a clear early sign of cancer. The moment you feel something similar in your dog, you should take them to a vet.
While it might be a benign cyst, it can also be dangerous. Pretty much every surgeon will recommend that you have it removed and taken to biopsy. You shouldn’t take any chances. While a benign mass is great news for both you and your dog, a malignant or cancerous mass will mean that you should consider further treatment.
If you have a female dog, you should be extra careful with their breasts and nipples and examine them often. Dogs are three times as likely to get breast cancer than people. That means that you should be alert and look for any of the warning signs that there might be something wrong with your dog’s mammary glands.
If your dog hasn’t been spayed or she’s been spayed after her first heat cycle, she might be at risk. Especially if her diet is rich in meat and she’s overweight. If you notice any discharge from the nipples (pus or blood), if you feel any bumps or notice that breasts are painful and swollen, take her to the vet as soon as possible.
Your dog may get scratches and sores for all kinds of reasons. The vet will usually suggest you give them antibiotics or apply an ointment to the sore. This usually helps speed up the healing process. But if you notice that even after these actions your dog’s skin wounds don’t seem to get better, it might be a reason for concern.
Your dog shouldn’t have problems urinating or defecating if you monitor their diet carefully. Occasional diarrhea isn’t a red flag immediately. But if it gets worse or if it doesn’t get better even after you change their diet, it’s usually a sign for concern. Going to the bathroom too often, blood in the stool or any difficulty urinating or defecating are potential cancer symptoms you should look out for.
Lack of energy
When you have a cheerful and happy dog that can’t wait to go outside and play fetch, sudden lethargy can be a reason for concern. While they might be sad or feel depressed because of something, they might also have heart problems that are making any form of exercise difficult.
Also, if your dog collapses for any reason, take them to the vet immediately. Even if they wake up soon and seem to be feeling better, they might have a tumor on their spleen or near the heart. So when your furry friend isn’t there to greet you at the door when you get home and doesn’t seem thrilled when you mention a walk, take them to the vet immediately.
What you can do
If it does happen that your dog has cancer, the vet will suggest one of the possible treatments: chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation. Most of your dog’s recovery lies in the vet’s capable hands. But that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing you can do. Just like humans, dogs need a lot of support and love to help them get through this. You will help tremendously simply by being there.
You can also help boost their immune systems by giving them filtered water and special high-protein Black Hawk dog food rich in omega 3 fatty acids. Also, if you have your dog spayed or neutered when they’re young, they will be less likely to get cancer later on.
In order for your dog to have a better chance of fighting this terrible disease and winning that fight, it’s important that you notice any changes and react as soon as possible. There is no need to be scared or paranoid.
If you pet your dog all over and take them to the vet regularly, chances are things will be fine. As long as you stay informed and alert, your furry friend has a great chance to stay healthy for many years.