Canine Cancer Diagnosis

Canine cancer is a debilitating and often fatal disease that affects dogs of all ages and breeds. Certain forms of cancer and particular sites on the body are more common than others, but there are dozens of types of this disease that may affect your dog. In cancer, as in many other canine diseases, an early detection and treatment process is necessary in order to prevent the spread of the disease and a decline in your pet's health and mobility. Learn about the basic symptoms of cancer and the ways in which it is diagnosed so that you will be best prepared to address your pet's needs, should the situation arise.

Common Canine Cancer Symptoms

Some of the most common symptoms of canine cancer include:

  • Unusual lumps or growths, occurring anywhere on the body
  • Discharge or bleeding
  • Open sores or infections that do not heal
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite and weight
  • Difficulty moving, breathing or eating
  • Infrequent or pained bowel movements
  • Lethargy or reluctance to play

If you notice any of these symptoms, have your vet examine your dog for signs of cancer or another disease.

Diagnostic Tests for Canine Cancer

One of the most important tests is a simple routine physical exam. Many cancers in dogs are characterized by a tangible growth or lump. While not every unusual growth is cancerous or malignant, it is always important to have a vet monitor these sites as potential cancers. The physical examination can also provide your veterinarian with additional information about your pet's condition, medical history and symptoms, all of which can be helpful in making an accurate diagnosis of your dog's disease.

If the tumor or growth is easily accessible, your veterinarian will likely request that a biopsy be made. During this procedure, your vet will remove a small sample of the tumor tissue for analysis. If the tumor has developed on an internal organ, the biopsy may be a more complicated surgical process. Biopsies are helpful in determining whether growths are malignant or benign, and whether they pose a serious threat to your dog or not.

Ultrasound tests and x-rays are also useful in identifying and locating tumors and other unusual masses. These tests can help your veterinarian to determine whether a cancer has metastasized and spread to another part of your dog's body. CAT scans and MRI tests are more involved ways of determining a similar set of information.

A blood sample provides further information about the status of your pet's disease. Certain cancers and growths alter the chemicals and hormones that may be found in your pet's blood. A complete blood count can help to identify the presence of these growths.

Using the results of one or more of these tests, your veterinarian will be able to offer an educated diagnosis of your pet's condition. If your pet does have cancer, it is crucial that you address the disease before it can spread throughout his body. Work with your veterinarian to formulate a proper treatment plan based on your pet and his specific case.