Diagnosing Dog Cancer

It is quite unfortunate that dogs too can suffer from one of the deadliest diseases, cancer. Diagnosing dog cancer is of utmost importance to provide the best possible medical treatment.

Symptoms that Can Help in Diagnosing Dog Cancer

Grossly divided there are about ten symptoms that can warn you of cancer in your pet. These are

  • Non healing sores
  • Abnormal swelling that either grow or persist in the same size for a long time
  • Sudden loss of weight despite regular diet
  • Loss of appetite
  • Undue Bleeding or colored discharge from openings in the body
  • An offensive odor that did not exist before
  • Your pet finds it difficult to eat or swallow normally
  • General weakness, loss of stamina and hesitation to movements
  • Stiffness or lameness that is persistent
  • Difficulty in normal chores like breathing, defecating or urinating

If you find your dog has one or more of these symptoms, he may have to undergo tests to detect and identify whether it is cancer. Specific tests will be performed depending on what form of cancer he may have. This procedure may be time consuming as your dog will have to go through a series of tests.

Detection and Confirmation on Diagnosing Dog Cancer

1. Initial Examination - If the tumor or growth or bleeding and discharge is physically visible, your vet will have it examined and tested to confirm presence of cancer. However most other symptoms are only generic and will not be conclusive and you may need to explain to the vet the duration of such ill health. If your vet does find any hint of cancerous growth, he will proceed with requisite tests. If not, you may need to insist if you are doubtful of cancerous existence.

2. Tests - Normally blood and urine test will be conducted as cancerous cells, if present in your dog, will show themselves up in blood and urine and even the type of cancer can be detected through these tests.

3. X-rays - will help reveal the location and extent of the tumor present in your dog.

4. Ultrasound Examination - will help your vet in diagnosing dog cancer in your pet by studying through his internal organs.

5. Advanced tests, if and when required, may include a CT, CAT or MRI scan. These will provide detailed results which will reveal more information that may not be available through simple blood tests or X-rays. Diagnosing dog cancer through these scans will be accurate. However these procedures being expensive, will be advised only if necessary. These are normally available only in specialty veterinary hospitals and referral centers and your pet will need to be anesthetized to avoid movements while scanning is in progress.

6. An almost accurate diagnosis of cancer can be achieved through Cytology and it will be the last resort in diagnosing dog cancer. Cytology is basically the examination of aspirated cells. However it has its own limitations. Firstly not all tumors give up their cells in the sample and if cytology is conducted only on the blood cells which does not contain the cancerous cells the test will not be effective.

7. The only sure shot way of diagnosing dog cancer is surgical biopsy which may be quite painful for your dog.