Warning Signs Of Illness Or Cancer In Pets

Warning Signs of Cancer and Illness in Pets

You have permission from Dr. Alice Villalobos to copy this table for distribution to dog and cat clubs, friends and pet carers who are interested in helping to identify cancer in its early stages.

The warning signs of cancer are easy to confuse with the warning signs of other illness. Cancer mimics other diseases. Use this checklist to recognize cancer’s warning signs. Know what those signs indicate. If you see any of these physical changes in your pet, inform your veterinarian immediately and schedule a checkup.

Changes you can feel:

1.       Abnormal swellings that continue to grow in the skin, especially enlarged lymph nodes.

2.       Abnormal lumps in the mouth, mammary glands, testicles, vaccine sites, abdomen.

3.       Sores or ulcers that do not heal in 2 weeks on the nose, ear tips, and face, particularly of white cats and in the white underside skin of dogs, particularly Italian Greyhounds, Whippets, and Bulldog breeds.

Physiological changes you can see:

4.       Weight loss (use a baby scale to weigh cats and small dogs once every 2–4 weeks).

5.       Pale gums and mucous membranes, yellow (jaundice) membranes, bruising.

6.       Bad breath (halitosis) or more than one loose tooth at the same location.

7.       Distended abdomen, fluid in the abdomen, blood in the abdomen.

8.       Small red spots or red discoloration of the skin due to leaky capillaries, bleeding at any location, especially body openings.

Behavioral changes:

9.       Appetite loss.

10.    Difficulty eating, excessive salivation, spitting up (regurgitation), vomiting food or bile.

11.    Chronic sneezing, discharge from the eyes, unilateral nasal discharge, noisy breathing.

12.    Difficulty urinating, blood in the urine that persists after therapy.

13.    Excessive urine output, increased water drinking (kidney, liver problems, diabetes, etc.).

14.    Loose stools (diarrhea), straining to defecate, constipation, blood or mucus in the stool.

15.    Reduced energy or exercise intolerance, trouble breathing, coughing, and gagging.

16.    Lameness, painful movement, painful joints, hesitation to exercise.

17.    Weakness, disorientation, dizziness, paralysis, pain.

18.    Fainting, muffled heartbeat, breathlessness, increased panting, anxiety.

This Table was created by Dr. Villalobos as Table 3.2 for chapter 3, Warning Signs of Cancer, in her textbook, Canine and Feline Geriatric Oncology: Honoring the Human-Animal Bond, first (2007)and second (2017) editions.  The table is based on the 12 Common Signs of Cancer in Animals, which was compiled and originally written by Drs. Gordon Theilen, Anita Hennes (deceased) and Villalobos for the Veterinary Cancer Society in the early 1970's as a brochure is currently not featured on the Veterinary Cancer Society web site.

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