Cancer in pets, what should you watch for at home?

By July 31, 2015 February 28th, 2019 Uncategorized

Cancer is not one disease, but a wide variety of diseases, with differing causes and outcomes. Although these symptoms are not purely indicative of cancer you should visit your veterinarian in Markham immediately if your pet exhibits any of them. Just as with people, the earlier cancer is diagnosed the better.

How do we diagnose cancer and what are things you should watch for at home?

  • Non-healing wounds
  • Lumps or bumps
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Lack of appetite
  • Abnormal odors
  • Strange discharges
  • Evidence of pain
  • Changes in bathroom habits
  • mood changes or lethargy
  • Change in breathing pattern or coughing

Cancer tends to occur in older pets, although any age pet can get cancer.  Since some of these are the symptoms of other diseases of the aged, in addition to just general symptoms of old age, it can be difficult to differentiate them.  An exam and diagnostic tests are utilized by the veterinarians in Markham to make a specific diagnosis.

First the veterinarians in Markham will do a physical exam to look for specific signs of cancer, although these clinical findings might not be exclusive to cancer.  We will look at the mucous membranes and eyes and face for signs of anemia, swelling, or growths. We check your pet’s lymph nodes for pain, enlargement, or inflammation. We palpate the abdomen for signs of fluids or masses of the internal organs. When  listening to the lungs we listen for any changes in lung sounds in addition to the heart rate and rhythm.  Running our  hands along the haircoat  allows us to check for growths, swellings, or inflamed areas.

Another helpful diagnostic option for the veterinarians in Markham for the detection of cancer is a blood panel. Some cancers, notably those of the bloodstream, might show up when checking the red or white blood cells. A particular type of white blood cell called a lymphocyte could give us an indication of lymphosarcoma, a common pet cancer.

The rest of the blood panel checks the internal organs, electrolytes, and thyroid level. Although cancer can be present in an internal organ and these tests might be normal, significant deviations from the normal could be a sign of cancer, .

X-rays (radiography)are an important tool in the detection of internal cancers that have no external signs. A chest radiograph can sometimes show fluid and/or tumors in or around the lungs. The veterinarians in Markham can also see a heart that might have a mass. In a pet that already has cancer we can look for spreading (metastasis) to the lungs, a common location for cancer to localize when it spreads from another organ. Abdominal x-rays can show abnormal fluid, an enlarged organ, a mass on an organ, and even enlarged internal lymph nodes. Bone cancers are commonly diagnosed with radiography due to their specific appearance.

Luckily ultrasound has almost replaced exploratory surgery in our hospital because it is non-invasive and less expensive than this surgery. It is a very valuable tool in assessing the internal organs for cancer, along with many other problems that mimic cancer.

Lastly, the veterinarians in Markham may still utilize additional specialized tests to confirm a diagnosis. This could include endoscopy, fluroscopy, and body scans.


Dr. Ernst Marsig, veterinarian in Markham

Practicing Veterinary Medicine in Markham for a Long and Happy Life of ALL Your Pets.

Animal Hospital of Unionville, a veterinary clinic on the north side of  Hwy 7, serving all pets in Markham, Richmond Hill, Scarborough, Stouffville, and North York since 1966. We are your family vets for dogs, cats, pocket pets (rabbits, chinchillas, gerbils, mice, rats, hamsters, guinea pigs, skinny pigs, etc.), ferrets, and birds (budgies, cockatiel, parrots, amazon, cockatoo, love birds, conures, African greys, finches, canaries, etc.).

Disclaimer: No part of this website constitutes medical advice. Readers are advised to consult with their veterinarian.

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