How to spot cancer in your pet


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Because our pets can’t speak for themselves, we as their owners need to pay close attention to what they show us. Sometimes they stand by the door to let us know they have to go out. Sometimes they hang around their food bowls if they’re hungry. Sometimes they let off a foul odor to let us know they need a bath.

Even more important is when your pets alert you to potential health problems. And one you should be especially on the lookout for is cancer.

According to WebMD, 50% of dogs over the age of 10 will develop cancer, including malignant lymphoma, mast cell tumors, mammary gland tumors, soft tissue sarcomas and bone cancer.

The good news is your pups will give you warning signs if they become victim to cancer. Here are some to look out for, courtesy of the Veterinary Cancer Society:

  • Persistent, abnormal swelling;
  • Sores that do not heal;
  • Weight loss;
  • Loss of appetite;
  • Bleeding or discharge from any body opening;
  • Offensive odor;
  • Difficulty eating or swallowing;
  • Loss of stamina;
  • Lameness or stiffness; or
  • Difficulty breathing, urinating or defecating.


There are also signs that you and your groomer should be aware of, and Petco is sharing its “7-Point Grooming Check-In” to help pet parents recognize red flags.

The theory behind the Check-In is that since groomers don’t see your pet as often as you do, it’s easier for you to note differences.

Here are the seven key areas to look at:


Your pet’s eye color should be bright. If you spot dullness or a green or yellow discharge, it could an allergy, infection or something more serious. Also be on the lookout for bloodshot eyes.



While it’s natural for your pet’s ears to have an odor, when the odor is strong, there could be a problem. Look out for swollen, tender ears and discharge.



Changes in texture and color can signal a problem. Head to your vet if you notice a prolonged dry, cracked nose with loss of pigmentation, scabs or open sores. Contact sensitivity and nasal discharge are also warning signs.



Old, decaying teeth and swollen gums could be signs of gum disease. If your pet’s  teeth look healthy but the gums are puffy, it may signal a problem.



Cracked pads often result from irritants, diet or rough terrain. But have it checked out anyway.


Skin and coat

Check for bumps, scrapes, lumps, hot spots, warts and matting. Lumps or other growths can be a sign of cancer.



Swollen anal glands can be a sign that they need to be expressed, but head to your vet if your pet reacts negatively to being touched.


If your pet has any of these early warning signs, visit your veterinarian as soon as possible.