Cancer is a dread disease not just among humans but animals as well. November is national Pet Cancer Awareness Month. As a pet owner, it’s important to recognizes these symptoms to immediate treatment. The fact that vets cannot communicate with their patients make cancer in pets more challenging to diagnose and treat. While lab tests and medical technology had made cancer breakthroughs in leaps and bounds, early detection is crucial but elusive since pets can not describe their pain and its exact location. However, with the vigilance of dedicated owners, vets can find a lot of help in the prevention and treatment of cancer in our lovable pets.
Here are the ten key signs that may spell the difference between survival and extinction of your pet from the horrors of cancer:
1. Abnormal Discharge
While dog’s or cat’s noses are normally moist, abnormal discharge particularly sneezing with purulent discharge may be an indication of nasal cancer. Likewise, ear discharge can also mean more than otitis externa, but ear canal tumor. Thus, when you groom your pets, inspection of their nose, ears and other parts of their body for abnormal discharge transcend beyond cleanliness but toward cancer detection.
2. Appetite Loss
Animals may refuse to eat for reasons other than cancer, but if your dog, cat or other pet has not recently been vaccinated or is in familiar environs, loss of appetite is a sign of illness. Cancer or no cancer, appetite loss should not be ignored by pet owners. Loss of appetite is a common cause of almost all forms of cancer.
3. Bumps, Lumps, and Inflammation
Bathing is the best time for a thorough inspection of your pet for lumps, bumps, and inflammation. While not all bumps on your pet’s skin is cancer, skin tumors also appear as lumps or bumps on the animal skin on various parts of the body. Inflammation may be a sign of infection, but mammary cancer may very well be manifested by inflammation.
4. Changes in Bowel Habits
Bowel habit changes indicate a multiplicity of health problems from digestive illnesses to colitis, hyperthyroidism to cancer. Pet owners should not, therefore ignore changes of animals’ toilet habits. Any such alterations should be communicated with the vet during regular visits.
5. Depression and Loss of Energy
A typically healthy pet who exhibits continuous periods of lethargy and depression indicate a health condition which may or may not be cancer. Nevertheless, most animal cancers take a heavy toll on their energy and their overall demeanor. Any change in animal activity indicating poor or diminished energy merits a consultation with the vet.
6. Difficulty in Breathing or Coughing
Heart disease in animals causes difficulty in breathing and coughing. However, these two signs also appear as both a symptom of animal cancer or metastasis of the deadly illness. Cancer of the chest as well as of the upper respiratory tract also has coughing and breathing difficulty as symptoms.
7. Loss of Weight
Loss of weight is also a universal sign of cancer owing to appetite loss. Even humans afflicted with cancer suffer from weight loss. Some forms of cancer result in weight loss due to wasting of the muscle mass.
Pain as a symptom of cancer is mostly tied to bone cancers, but generally, all cancers in pets are accompanied by pain as a side effect of chemotherapy. However, there is also a concept of animal cancer pain as a result of invasion by the malignant cells or spontaneous pain from the condition.
9. Unusual Odor
Pets like dogs and cats exude a peculiar but normal odor. Thus, most pet owners get used to such smell. However, when you start sniffing unusual odor emanating from your pet, cancer could be the culprit. Visit the vet who can either confirm or rule out cancer based on abnormal odor from your pet.
10. Wound that does not Heal
Dog and cat wounds heal with oil. Other medication that vets prescribe can also do the trick. But when a wound does not heal, cancer is not a remote possibility.
By regularly and keenly monitoring your pets for the occurrence of one or more of above-mentioned symptoms, you can help your pet. Vets can rely on owner’s inputs for the earlier detection of conditions that may lead to cancer. Your close proximity and constant company with your pets puts you in the best position to partner with the vet in arresting cancer at the most opportune time.