Spotting Signs of Cancer in Your Pet | Westford, MA

Cancer is often thought of as being a purely human condition. Unfortunately, our animals can develop cancer too, with their skin, digestive system and reproductive organs being some of the most common areas of the body that can be affected. It is often not known exactly why some animals develop cancer and others don’t, but there are some factors that appear to make cancer more likely. For example, failing to spay a female pet before they reach two years old significantly increases the likelihood that she will develop cancer of the breast tissue. In addition to this, statistically, some breeds of cats and dogs are also more at risk of certain types of cancer. 

Diagnosing cancer in pets is far from straightforward. Not only are there many different types of cancer that can present with an array of different symptoms, but animals are naturally inclined to try and mask anything that makes them vulnerable – including signs that they are unwell. That said, there are some things that you can look out for that could suggest your pet needs veterinary attention and that there is a possibility of cancer or another serious health issue affecting her. 

Signs That Your Pet Could Have Cancer


Although the following symptoms are not necessarily indicative of cancer and can potentially point to other health problems, they are commonly reported amongst animals who are later found to have some form of cancer. As such, it is important that you arrange for your pet to see your veterinarian as soon as you can so that further investigations can be carried out to determine the cause of your pet’s symptoms. 

  • Abnormal swellings, growths or lumps that persist or continue to grow.
  • Sores and other skin wounds that do not heal.
  • Unexplained weight loss. This is often triggered by an internal tumor, such as one found in the intestine.
  • Loss of appetite. This can be caused by generally feeling unwell, or because there is something pushing on your pet’s stomach or intestines which is causing her to not feel hungry. 
  • Obvious signs that she is finding it difficult to eat. Aside from dental issues, if your pet is struggling to eat it could be because there is a tumor putting pressure on her mouth or esophagus. 
  • Bleeding from the nose or any other orifice where there has not been an injury.
  • Lethargy, loss of stamina or reluctance to exercise. There are numerous conditions that can cause your pet to lose interest in anything that requires physical exertion, including some forms of cancer. 
  • Difficulty passing urine or feces. Emptying the bladder and bowels is a normal function for pets as well as humans. However, if your pet has some sort of tumor putting pressure on her bladder or any part of her digestive system, it could be making it difficult for her to relieve herself. Failing to urinate is an emergency situation and if your furbaby hasn’t passed urine in more than 24 hours you need to see your vet immediately. 
  • Respiratory problems. Breathing is another essential function. However, if there are issues with any part of your pet’s respiratory system, such as a tumor in her lungs, it could make it difficult to breathe. Any sort of breathing problem warrants a visit to your emergency veterinarian. 

If you have any more questions about cancer in pets, or if you are concerned that your pet may have some of the symptoms listed above and you would like to arrange to get her assessed, please don’t hesitate to contact our animal care specialists at Animal Cancer Care Specialist in Westford, MA or Windham, NH by calling (978) 577-4848.