As most of you know cancer has run rampant in the family in which I live now. Sampson, who succumb to it in December of 2014 was just one of many who have left the family due to the big “C” and because of it, they are diligent about making sure that they identify early signs of it on any of their beloved animals that might show any of the following signs. Here are 10 visual and identifiable signs of potentially cancerous cells that could become quite helpful in helping you identify this killer of furr-babies:
- Abnormal growths and swellings – Keep an eye on areas around the face, nose, and shoulder areas (as well as other areas) for “nubs” and “Growths” that might appear in your dogs. Have them checked out right away to see if these are benign or malignant. A good vet will tell you not to just “watch it” for growth, but to have it removed and biopsied.
- Soars and wounds that don’t heal – Even after treatment of antibiotics, these wounds may not even show signs of improvement. Make sure to monitor and document these when they occur and to not let them go unattended.
- Unexplained weight loss – The older dogs become, the easier it is to let them put some weight on, but its the weight loss that you need to watch for. This means that at some point, despite them eating, the nutrients are not getting to the vital areas they need it and they are dropping weight.
- Loss of Appetite – This of course goes hand in hand with #3 above. What we can’t see might be tumors that are blocking intestines and making it painful for our babies to eat and digest food properly giving them no appetite.
- Difficulty swallowing – Is your dog having a hard time drinking, or enjoying their favorite treats? A tumor could be blocking this normal behavior and making it difficult to swallow or eat properly. Keep an eye on them and watch them during a normal meal and get them to the vet if you see choking, or gagging on their food often.
- Unexplained bleeding from orifices – Blood from their snout, gums, and even in their feces could show signs of a serious problem. Get them to the vet immediately.
- The foul odor – tumor can open and give way to infection. Bacteria can easily find its way into an open wound and tumors is no exception. A foul odor can indicate infection and should be treated right away before it invades other vital organs.
- Reluctance to play/loss of stamina – Older dogs will still want to play, and perhaps not play near as long as they used to, but watch them closely as if their desire leaves them completely, this could be another indication that cancer is keeping them in pain.
- Stiffness of joints of lameness – A family member Goliath had a sign of cancer but was mistaken for arthritis. He refused to put his right rear leg down and run on it. Despite the fact that he was ultimately lovable, playful and still active, the cancer had invaded his hind quarters.
- Difficulty breathing, urinating or defecating – This could show signs of stress, duress or even tumor’s making it difficult to do either of these life giving activities. Panting when it is a comfortable temperature was an indication of Sampsons condition and his inability to get comfortable.
I have heard Ma speak of the days leading up to Sampson’s departure and can only hope that my brothers and sisters all over had as much compassion as Ma did (despite how difficult of a decision it is). Human actions to help ease dogs out of what is a painful and other wise inhospitable quality of life is not easy, but it is the most loving position a human can make for their best friend.
Please keep your eyes on your pets, monitor their health and remember to take them in every 6 months for their check ups whether they need it or not. This will help with early detection and treatment of a killer…. Love your pets, fight the cancer.
(Note: I would like to thank my Vet for this great information. If you have any more questions, please consult your local veterinarian, as I am far from certified to give advice on treatment *woof woof!*)