Cancer in Pets: What Are the Signs and Symptoms?

As a pet owner, you should be aware of the signs and symptoms of cancer in pets and other internal conditions. Unfortunately, cancer is common in our furry friends, with around 1 in 4 dogs and 1 in 5 cats developing the disease at some point during their lifetime.

The good news is that, thanks to advances in veterinary medicine. Many cancer types can now be treated effectively. But the key to a successful outcome is catching the disease early. So, what should you look out for?

Cancer in Cats and Dogs

Like human cancer, cancer in pets can be deadly. But, with early detection and treatment, many pets can go on to lead long and happy lives. The cause of cancer in animals is largely unknown, but genetics, lifestyle, and environment all play a role. For example, dog breeds, such as Boxers and Golden Retrievers, are more prone to developing certain types of cancer than others.

Without medical intervention, cancer cells can spread to the other parts of a pet’s body and affect vital organs, decreasing quality of life and death. Various types of cancer can affect both cats and dogs. The most common include:

1. Lymphoma

This type of blood cancer commonly affects the lymph nodes, although it can also affect other organs, including the spleen and bone marrow.

2. Mast Cell Tumors

These tumors develop from mast cells, a type of white blood cell. They are the most common skin tumor types in dogs.

3. Bone Cancer

This is a relatively rare type of cancer, but it can be aggressive and difficult to treat.

4. Liver Cancer

This is a common type of cancer in dogs, particularly older dogs.

5. Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer is more common in dogs than in cats and often affects older animals.

6. Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is seen occasionally in dogs but is much more common in cats.

Signs and Symptoms of Cancer in Pets

The signs and symptoms of cancer among animals depend on the type and location of the tumor. However, some general signs may indicate your pet has the disease, including:

  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Swelling or lumps on the body
  • Bleeding or discharge from any body opening
  • Difficulty urinating or defecating
  • Persistent cough or difficulty breathing

If you see these symptoms, immediately bring your pet to a reputable animal clinic or hospital, such as Oceanside Veterinary Hospital, as soon as possible for a check-up. Early detection is key for the successful treatment of cancer in pets.

Treating Cancer in Pets

If your vet diagnosed your pet with cancer, they would develop a treatment plan specific to your pet’s needs. Treatment options may include:

  • Surgery. This is often the best option for treating localized tumors (confined to one area).
  • Chemotherapy. This uses drugs to kill cancer cells and is often used in conjunction with surgery.
  • Radiation therapy. This treatment uses high-energy beams to kill cancer cells and is often combined with other treatments.


There is no surefire way to prevent cancer in pets. However, you can help reduce your pet’s risk by following these tips:

  • Feed them a healthy diet.
  • Keep them at a healthy weight.
  • Avoid exposure to toxins and carcinogens.
  • Have them vaccinated against certain cancers, such as lymphoma. You should also have your pet vaccinated against common viruses, such as rabies and feline leukemia, which can increase the risk of developing certain types of cancer.
  • Schedule regular check-ups with your veterinarian.

Key Takeaways

Cancer is a severe disease that can affect both cats and dogs. There are many different types of cancer, and the signs and symptoms depend on the type and location of the tumor. Early detection is critical for the successful treatment of cancer in pets. 

Treatment options may include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. On top of these, find a vet clinic or hospital with facilities and specialists experienced in treating animal cancer, like these Oceanside vet experts.

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