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There are a number of early cancer signs in your cats and dogs. Some of them are vague, like diarrhea and vomiting, and others are obvious, such as big lumps on the body that are easily seen and felt. Cancer is more prevalent in older cats and dogs, but it is important to remember that even young cats and dogs can develop tumors.
- Lumps and bumps/ skin lesions - As mentioned above, bumps or lumps in the head, body or legs could be a potential cancer or tumor. Hard lumps attached to underlying tissues have a greater probability of being cancerous. Small skin lesions too could be a sign of cancer.
- Enlarged lymph nodes - Lymph nodes are small oval shaped organs that are found throughout the body. If you notice a swelling on either side of the jaw, in the armpits, on the rear legs behind the knee or in the groin area, chances are that they are swollen lymph nodes. Lymphosarcoma is one of the most common cancers found in young cats and dogs.
- Abdominal distension - Abdominal distension could indicate many things, but it is a sign of cancerous growth on the abdominal organs in older dogs. Sneezing, coughing, diarrhea, and vomiting are common indicators of minor infections, stomach upset and allergies, but they can sometimes be a symptom of cancer as well. Coughing with blood could be a sign of cancerous growth in the chest or throat. Sneezing blood could be a sign of cancer in the nose.
- Bulging eye - Bulging of an eye could indicate glaucoma caused by eye cancer, which is fairly common in cats and dogs.
- Late onset seizures - Seizures in a senior dog with no prior history of occurrence could be an indication of brain tumor.
- Mammary tumors/testicular irregularities - If your pet has not been neutered or spayed, they are more prone to some forms of cancer. Female dogs stand an increased risk of developing mammary tumors. They are also more prone to developing cancer of the ovaries or the uterus. Male dogs that have not been castrated can fall prey to testicular cancer. If a male dog has unevenly sized testicles, with one of them larger than the other, he is a prime suspect for testicular cancer.
- Unexplained weight loss - Last but bot the least, weight loss without accompanying illness can be a sign of cancer. If your pet is happy, drinking and eating, but is losing weight, you need to get it checked.
All of the aforementioned signs could signal cancer but they could also indicate much simpler problems. If you observe a problematic sign, call the vet and schedule an exam. Do not wait till the situation gets out of hand.