black and white dog

Observed annually on the second Friday in September, Stand Up To Cancer Day honors those who have been affected by this disease. (If you would like to honor a loved one, please visit our Memorial Wall.)

One of the best ways to stand up to cancer is to know the 10 early warning signs of cancer in you companion animal.

1. Lumps
Not all lumps and bumps are cancerous in dogs. There are sebaceous cysts, lipomas, and warts, all of which are benign. But if you detect a growth on your dog it’s important to have it checked out by a veterinarian and if warranted, aspirated and biopsied.

2. Lesions
Scratches and abscesses are not uncommon for the normal, active dog but the sores that don’t heal can be of concern.

3. Lameness
Bone cancer is typically found in larger breed dogs like Great Danes, Bernese Mountain dogs, Rottweilers, Boxers, Newfoundlands, Saint Bernards, and Great Pyrenees, and the primary early indication is prolonged limping or favoring a limb or side. Other types of cancers can also cause persistent lameness.

4. Appetite Loss
If your dog shows no interest in eating or their daily consumption has declined for several days, take them to a vet.

5. Lethargy
Tiring out easily, unwillingness to exercise and loss of interest in normal daily activities can be an early sign of cancer.

6. Weight Loss
Not to be confused with loss of appetite. Cachexia, or emaciation, is often associated with cancer and can occur even if your dog is still eating normally. So if your dog is inexplicably losing weight, consult a veterinarian.

7. Strong or Offensive Odor
A very strong and offensive smell can sometimes be a byproduct of tumors in the mouth and nasal cavity.

8. Loss of Normal Body Functions
Dogs having difficulty voiding or defecation or unusual urine or feces should be looked at.

9. Bleeding or Bloody Discharge
Blood present in vomit, stool, and nasal discharge are cause for serious concern and although not always telltale signs of cancer, your dog should be examined as soon as possible.

10. Labored Breathing
Abnormal respiration or respiratory distress can be a symptom of cancers in dogs.