The Signs & Spread of Cancer in Dogs

Finding out that your dog has cancer can cause any pet parent to feel quite distraught. Knowing what to expect can help you through the process. Today, our La Mesa vets offer some insight into the most common types of cancer in dogs as well as the signs and spread of this disease.

What are the common types of cancer in dogs?

While you may not realize it, the types of cancer that dogs can get are much the same as the ones that humans experience. These are some common types of cancer we find in dogs:

  • Melanoma: Skin tumors are often found in the feet and mouth of dogs. Melanoma may quickly spread to other areas of your dog's body and tends to be malignant. 
  • Mast Cell Tumor: These tumors can also be found on the skin and may be difficult to remove, depending on the location. However, this type of cancer can be cured - if the tumor is detected early and fully removed. 
  • Osteosarcoma (Bone Cancer): The most common type of bone cancer found in dogs can affect any breed, though larger breeds tend to be impacted more often. 
  • Lymphoma/Lymphosarcoma: This form of cancer is highly common in dogs, and quite a few treatment options are available. Most vets are experienced in treating this disease. 
  • Hemangiosarcoma - Your dog will require emergency intervention for this form of cancer, which can quickly be fatal. Hemangiosarcoma is most often found in blood vessels and on internal organs, though it may occasionally be found on the skin. These tumors may grow to be quite large, with bleeding into the pericardium. 
  • Fibrosarcoma: This slow-spreading form of cancer in dogs can be tricky to treat. In order to prevent a recurrence, radiation and amputation may be necessary.

What are the signs of cancer in dogs?

It can be very difficult to tell that something is wrong with your dog just by looking at them. While some types of cancer are only diagnosed using diagnostic testing such as bloodwork, there are certain symptoms that you can watch for that may indicate cancer.

If your dog is showing any of these signs, you'll want to make an appointment with an oncology specialist at Rancho Village Veterinary Hospital as soon as possible. When it comes to cancer, early detection is key to positive treatment outcomes. 

  • Sores that don't heal
  • Bleeding or discharge
  • Lumps or bumps beneath the skin
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained Weight loss
  • Lethargy, depression, disinterest in exercise
  • Difficult or painful breathing or coughing
  • Straining when going to the bathroom
  • Strong odor
  • Challenges when eating or swallowing
  • Swelling
  • Pain or difficulty walking, lameness or stiffness

Is cancer painful for dogs?

Determining the pain level of dogs that are suffering from cancer can be tough as they are unable to vocalize their pain in the same way that we do. Furthermore, understanding the nature of the pain (acute, chronic or intermittent) and the level of the pain (dull or severe) can make understanding how your dog is feeling very challenging!

To add to the difficulties it can be impossible to tell if the pain that a dog is experiencing is caused by the cancer itself or the treatment method that they are recieving.

What are the signs of cancer in dogs?

If your dog is showing any unusual behavior or obvious signs of pain then you should contact your vet to schedule an examination. Some of the most common signs of pain in dogs include:

  • Limping
  • Loss of appetite
  • Aggression/Skittishness
  • Heavy panting
  • Trembling/Shaking
  • Excessive grooming
  • Increased vocalization

As most cancers develop in the later years, you should be able to pick out any unusual behavior from your dog. So, keep your eye out for any behavior that seems strange or unusual for your pet. If your dog isn't acting like themselves, it's time for a trip to the vet.

Does cancer spread quickly in dogs?

The speed at which cancer will spread in your dog depends on the type of cancer that they have.

One of the most aggressive cancers, hemangiosarcoma, spreads so rapidly that even with treatment dogs may only live a few months at most. While soft tissue sarcomas can take months or even years to grow.

What is the life expectancy for dogs with cancer?

Predicting the life expectancy of dogs with cancer can be quite difficult. Especially since it happens later in life and they may die naturally after they've developed cancer.

As cancer becomes more advanced and painful, many pet owners choose to euthanize their dog in order to provide them with a comfortable and compassionate death.

The treatment options and life expectancy of dogs with cancer ultimately depend on the type of cancer and how early it was diagnosed. For some chemotherapy may be effective, whereas other cancers may not respond to chemo at all.

Finding Our That Your Pet Has Cancer

Finding out that your beloved furry friend has cancer is a lot for any pet parent to take in. Here are some ways that you can help manage yourself and the situation:

  • Keep in mind that cancer in pets is common.
  • Discuss your pet's specific cancer with your vet.
  • Learn about your pet's treatment options.
  • See a Veterinary Oncologist in La Mesa.
  • Become familiar with the terminology surrounding your pet's illness.
  • Learn about how tumors are tested.
  • Make your pet's quality of life your primary concern.
  • Understand the financial factors of treating your pet's cancer.
  • Maintain a normal routine.
  • Stay hopeful, but be realistic.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Would you like more information about the diagnosis and treatment of cancer in dogs? Contact our La Mesa vets to book an appointment immediately.