Like people, our pets are susceptible to various forms of cancer. Knowing the symptoms and regular veterinary preventative care are the first steps to a quick diagnosis and early intervention. Cancer affects pets of all breeds, size and age. Tumors are classified as either malignant or benign. Malignant tumors are cancerous and spread quickly throughout the body. Benign tumors are non-cancerous. They can be removed or left alone if they pose no threat to the quality of life for the patient.
Common Signs and Symptoms
Although some symptom changes may be small, it is important to notify your veterinarian of anything unusual. Changes in appetite, behavior and energy levels are all important indicators that help identify a potential underlying concern. Other signs to watch for include lameness, pain, swelling, lumps or masses, discoloration of skin, fever, vomiting, diarrhea and unexpected weight loss/gain.
During your pet’s appointment, your veterinarian will do an extensive physical exam and possibly diagnostic testing. It is important to let them know of any changes you have noticed, even if they don’t seem significant. The earlier a cancer is detected, the better the chances are for a successful treatment option. There are other diagnostics that are recommended annually if you notice any changes in your pet’s behavior or appearance.
A cancer diagnosis is not necessarily a terminal diagnosis for your loved one. Treatment options vary with each diagnosis and stage that the disease was caught in. Discussing your pet’s treatment options with your veterinarian may include surgical treatment, chemotherapy, radiation or comfort care.