Cancer is a serious health risk for older dogs, with about half of all dogs over the age of 10 predicted to develop cancer. If you have a senior dog in your life, you may read that statistic and immediately worry. But don’t. Recognizing the risk means you can do something to help out your furry friend.
As with humans, early detection is key to helping your dog survive cancer. There are a few things you can do, as a pet parent, to keep an eye out for cancer risk and head straight to the doctor if you find anything suspicious. Here are a few signs of cancer to watch for in your dog.
If you’ve ever had a senior dog, you know lumps aren’t unusual. Known as lipomas, these are often fatty tumors that are nothing to worry about. You may even rush to your vet, concerned that your dog has a cancerous tumor at first, and over time you can start to assume any lump is nothing of concern. You probably noticed your vet pressed on the lump, and you can do the same thing at home. If it moves around easily, with little indication it’s attached to the skin, it’s likely benign. However, monitor any new lumps closely for growth and alert your vet to all of your dog’s bumps on every visit.
Dogs can’t tell you when they aren’t feeling well, but often a decrease in appetite is an essential first sign. Any time your pet’s eating and drinking habits change, without explanation, it’s important to keep an eye on things. There are many reasons a dog’s appetite can decrease suddenly, but one is the nausea associated with certain types of cancers.
As with appetite changes, lethargy can have many causes. In fact, as a dog gets older, it’s natural for him to have a little less pep in his step. But if you’ve noticed a sudden drop in energy, it could be a sign of illness, especially if it continues for more than a day or two. Make an appointment with your vet to have your pet checked out if your pet is sleeping far more than usual or can’t make it through a short walk without seeming overly fatigued.
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