Do You Know These 5 Warning Signs Of Pet Cancer?

Today, your dog isn’t interested in eating nor has energy that was exhibited yesterday. Normally, your dog is eager to eat and equally eager to play and get into mischief.  Being the excellent parent that you are, you make an appointment for your dog to see your veterinarian. While you aren’t sure what may be going on, in your gut you know that this isn’t normal behavior.

Vet visit are key to dog health

Vet visits are vital to your dog’s health


Your vet comes in and asks qualifying questions. You both agree to run blood work and various other tests that may need to occur.  A few days later, your vet calls with the test results. Then, the word comes across the phone and you feel like the wind was just sucked out of you. Your heart drops to your feet.  What is the word? Cancer.

Do you know the early warning signs that your dog may have cancer?  It’s important to note that most of these symptoms could also indicate another ailment and they are not isolated to a cancer diagnosis.  Should your dog be exhibiting one or any of these symptoms, the best option is call your veterinarian for an exam and testing. Here are five (5) warning signs of cancer:

  • Lumps and Bumps: Yes, there are going to be lumps and bumps that your dog will develop throughout their life.  The only way to know for sure if the new “growth” on your dog is not cancerous, consult with your vet.  One easy thing that you can do weekly, massage your dog.  Sitting down on the floor, giving your dog a nice overall massage not only will feel great for your dog (you too) and isolate bonding time, this will also allow for you to identify any new growths.
  • Change in Appetite: If your dog goes from being a passionate eater to no or little interest; providing no change in their diet, consult with your vet.  A change of appetite in your dog doesn’t necessarily mean cancer, when a dog has no interest, more times than not there is something going on that needs further investigation.
  • Pain: Providing your dog did not jump off the bed like Superman, and there is indication of pain, consult your vet.  If your dog is limping, sensitive to touch; or, the pain is too great for your dog to move, your dog needs to see your vet.
  • Wound takes long to heal: If your dog has an open wound and it is taking longer than normal to close and heal, medical attention is needed.
  • Foul odor: You know you just bathed your dog and has been inside, yet, there is a foul odor.  This sign is of concern as cancer will produce an odor.

Again, not all of the signs above mean that cancer is present within; they do indicate that medical attention is needed and should be sought as quickly as possible. The best thing to help “fight” cancer begins with prevention, early detection, and research.  I found myself in this situation twice with my dogs; I am thankful that I authorized testing as this was a valuable tool in early detection and did tons of research (nutrition, exercise, well being, etc).  As a result, my one dog is cancer free after three years; my other dog passed March 2012 but it was not the cancer that took her.  Her and I fought the cancer for two years and we were able to keep it isolated and non-growing.  If I had not done my homework, my outcome may have been different.

Buffy from Real Dogs Don't Whisper

In memory of my beautiful Buffy

As I sit here today, I truly hope that anyone reading this, has to never get the phone call that turns your world upside down.  Are there any cancer survivors?  How did you help your dog through it?

About Kelly Preston 

Contributing editor Kelly Preston

Kelly Preston and Mr MaGoo

Based in San Jose, Calif., animal lover Kelly Preston is an award winning author of Real Dogs Don’t Whisper, a book in which she talks about her experiences and adventures with her special needs dogs and the life lessons they have taught – how she has learned and grown from them and they have learned and grown from her. Preston also produces Mr.MaGoo’s Corner, a free monthly dog-focused newsletter that features a reader of the month, birthday announcements, green pet tips, organic dog recipes and more. Kelly Preston also published a children’s picture and coloring book, Mister Spunky and His Friends; a book to teach children about love, friendship and helping others with special needs.



  • Terra

    :( My Sammy Died at 4 years old of Lymphoma. It was detected early but they say they had never seen such an aggressive case. I let him go be free because he only had 6months with the chemo.. my poor baby.. :(

  • Patricia Nye Webster

    my PEN died of cancer 4 years ago; she died a couple of months after being diagnosed, but I had been taking her to a couple of vets for way over a year for mysterious bloating that they couldn’t find any reason for…we only did pain killers for her and let her die at home. She was a very brave little Corgi – she’s waiting at Heaven’s Portal Gate for me, as she always did while she was here.

    • Haroon Rasheed

      I’m so sorry to hear that. You seem like a great dog mom. May her soul RIP.

  • Jennifer Rowell

    A very important sign is swollen lymph nodes on their neck. That was the first sign in my dog, Morgan, that passed away with lymphoma in December.

  • Julianne Troutman

    My Beagle, Shiloh was diagnosed with stage 4A Mediastinal Lymphosarcoma in June 2002 and DID NOT have any of these signs. Since Mediastinal Lymphosarcoma attacks the organs, but travels through the lymph system, he had no enlarged lymph nodes, which is present in other forms of lymphoma. He had 2 large tumors internally, one deep in the abdomen and one in the chest between the heart and lungs. This is a very aggressive form of lymphosarcoma. I was not given good news and was told he would possible go into remission for about 3 months with chemotherapy and that would be all. I chose not to put him through that and went with pallative treatment to keep him comfortable, because he was so young, 23 months old, when I lost him, i wanted to give him every day that we could get and once he was not responsive, I then decided it was time for him to go to the Rainbow Bridge. It was a decision that was very painful and still hurts today as bad as it did 11 years ago. The only outward sign he had was swelling of his eyes and uveitis. It was a great heartbreak i hope none of my dogs will have to go through. When Shiloh was about 18 months old I noticed he had difficulty going on walks and he was an active, working/hunting Beagle. He loved rabbit running and tracking. I had taken him to the vet, but our regular vet was on vacation and had another vet filling in for them and this vet told he he is healthy and just can’t take the heat when it is hot. My regret is not getting a second opinion, because a few months later, I found out my beloved Shiloh was terminally ill. My advice to anyone who thinks their dog has this dreaded cancer to see treatment as early as possible, the signs are not always there right away. My vet showed me how to feel for tumor in a dog’s body. Feel the abdomen for any swelling or masses, they will feel kind of solid. Feel for any enlargement in the liver, check the neck area for any lymph swelling, under the paws where they attach to the body and under the hind legs, check eyes to make sure there is no swelling or uveitis (inflammation of the dog’s inner eye lid). If you notice your dog getting short of breath or activity level changes from the normal level they have normally been accustomed to, please take your pet to the vet immediately, don’t wait. This is a dreadful form of lymphosarcoma. The 5 warnings are apparent in most cancers, but not necessarily apparent in Mediastinal Lymphosarcoma. The signs only show up in stage 4, stage 4 B is the final part of stage 4. If this helps anyone who has a dog with lymphosarcoma, regardless of stage, I would feel like I helped someone through Shiloh’s experience…losing him was the biggest heartbreak I have had so far in my life…love your pets with all your heart, they given to us on borrowed time. If anyone would like to share their stories or experiences, see my Jack Russell Terriers page on Facebook called
    Séa the Jack Russell it isn’t just for Jack Russell Terriers, but all dogs and their owners…thank you for reading my post.

  • Lisa Donaldson

    My old boy ‘Max’ a cross breed Lab/Border collie has had cancer twice, same place on the thigh area, his first Op he was fine & bounced back good as gold, the second Op 2 years later was much more traumatic due to age, he had nerve damage too which resulted in his back leg dragging everywhere, I nursed him back to health with syringes of fresh water & spoon fed him on the sofa when he couldn’t move properly, when he began to get better his daily beach walks continued with big swims in the sea to encourage healing & strength, 6 months later his leg gained enough strength to walk fine again. He is 16 now, has slowed down considerably but still goes to the beach daily looking for crabs, he has a few suspicious lumps & bumps which I shall remain ignorant about, he is comfortable & happy & while he is I shall leave well alone. He is loved beyond compare, the bestest friend ive ever had.

  • Derek Philipson

    I lost 2 of my best friends to spleen cancer. Rottie Jess and Rotti Jake. Both rotties were the same age although not brother and sister. At this point they are 10yrs old. Jessie had stem cell therapy to save her front right leg which seemed to have no cartilage . She could barely walk but after stem cell she was a perfect dog again. Anyway, jake started to loose muscle tone and weak rear legs we started tests scans showed nothing, and xrays said it wasnt hip displasia he was eating and drinking just fine.and only loseing weight on his rear legs and head. Still concerned we pushed barium into him thinking twisted or blocked bowel. Nothing all clear. So we decided to open him up o have a look. It was 6 weeks passed, based on the fact scans and xrays hadnt showed up anything was a good sign right?. Wrong, i said goodbye to my mate in the surgery that day not knowing that in 30 mins the vet would call saying, “Its not good news” . “There is tumour the size of a bowling ball there and its gone to his liver”. Advising we should go down, i got the family and Jessie(rottie) and we all went down. She explained and showed me pics. That was to be the saddest day of my life saying goodbye to him. My soulmate. 5 months passed and rottie jess was sad depressed and we were doing our best with her to keep her chin up as they say. She first showed signs of torn cruciate ligament, we agreed stem cell again could help.I was so happy , but then i told the vet, perhaps do bloods while im here. He did, he also showed me that her bloods were all over the place consistent with something not quite right.. Anyway we have 2 vets, the osteopath and the GP who is local, we went to the local one for a scan, jessie wasnt jumping around because of the sore knee but was eating and drinking etc. When we had the scan, sure enough unlike Jake, there was a tumour. We decided yes get it out, take the spleen if need be .That weekend her leg started to swell, the vet said if the cancer has gotten to her Lymph nodes, thats not good. The supposed day of her op, she hobbled into the vets, the vet looked at her and again brought my world crashing down. Its not good news. yes its in her nodes. We had 2 choices, Put her to sleep save her suffering or, take the spleen, chase the nodes with cancer, offering chemo at the same time( which never cures it) then do the knee, for what , perhaps extend her time a month or so, and she would be in pain no doubt from all the surgeries etc. We decided to say good bye, again the family , we were all there she knew we were there , and she slowly drifted off. So 2 examples of the same Dog, same cancer, appearing different. Jessie was never the same when Jake died, now she is with him where ever he goes. RIP Jessie and Jake. My two beautiful rotties forever in my heart.

  • Respect_is_earned_not_given

    Many cancers are flat! My Sam had a flat tough muscle along his waist/thigh area. Like you would think on any human, it was just a “knotted muscle” from running too much. He never limped or anything. It seemed like it was there for at least a year or longer, which is also why we thought it was just a regular knot muscle. It was no different than if you type, write, run too much – you may be a little sore but you do not make a big deal of it. We thought our Sam, being a terrier, may have felt the same way which may be why he did not limp or anything. It was not until he started having other health issues that our vet drew blood and the blood work showed cancer cells. Sadly, by that time it was too late when we found out that the muscle was hiding a tumor that was too close to his spine between his hip and spine. My lesson to anyone is that if you rub your dog’s back and you think he or she may have “a knotted muscle – just like we get” insist that your vet take a closer look – it could very well be a flat tumor mascaraing as a muscle. We wish we had known what could define a “hidden tumor”, we could have possibly caught it in time and a great dog would still be by our sides!

  • Valier

    my Miss Dixie got a nose bleed dogs don’t get nose bleeds she had cancer she’s gone now but I sure do miss her she died at home where she was Loved. She was 9 .

  • Anita Bray

    I just put my boxer down about aweek ago. He started drinking alot an peeing aot, so I took him to the vet. The only thing the vet found was a high calcium count. The next day an annal cisit gland swelled up an broke. The vet said to just watch him an call him if shows any other signs. Well he completely quit eating, so I rushed to the vet, he did more tests an it was glandular cancer. He was only 4 1/2 yrs old.

    • Maggie R

      Anita, I am so sorry for your loss! They are family, I know. I lost my 13 yr old dashchund, Dulcie, Dec 28, 2012. I cried like a baby.

  • Amy Minosky Gero

    My 3 yr old corgi, Jasmyn, was diagnosed last week with hisiocytic sarcoma. There are spots in her liver, spleen and pancreas. She is extremely anemic. The only sign I had was that she quit eating. There is nothing they can do. The oncology doc started her on prednisone, and her appetite has improved, and she seems perkier most days. She is not in pain. But this is temporary and the time will come when she will need to be put to sleep…cancer sucks..

    • Patricia Nye Webster

      I don’t remember the kind of cancer my Corgi had, but I know that she started swelling about a year and a half before her current vet diagnosed her. I had taken her in for checkups with another vet because the other vets hadn’t found anything wrong with her, but she didn’t seem quite right – she was 11 years old. If I remember right, her appetite was okay until the end – we were ‘joined’ at the hip, so I gave her pain meds and let her stay home – the day she died, she waited for me to get home from work. I had picked her up and held her, and put her down and she was gone. We buried her in the backyard. That was 4 years ago – I will always miss her. I do know that diet is important. I had her on PRECISE. With my new Corgi, I am using ORIJEN. And I give my Rottweiler about 3/4# raw diet most days in addition to the kibbles.

  • Skeeter

    I found a lump on my dog today….he’s going to the vet this week :(

  • Barbara Olson

    God Bless you and all of your beautiful dogs. I truly miss every dog and cat / pet that has ever been in my life. I know I will be with them again, truly they blessed me.

  • Curmudgeon John

    My Churchill had none of these signs but rather became more and more lethargic until collapsing one day. He was ultimately diagnosed with lymphoma and died naturally within two short weeks. He did not seem to be in pain at all. He was the best dog I’ve ever had and I miss him every day.

  • Phyllis Kloski

    I got that call yesterday! Cancer of the bladder. My Ellie is a rescue Sheltie and I have only had her for a year and 9 months. It breaks my heart that she was so abused and tossed away and now she has to deal with this. Our options will be discussed with us later this week, for now she is on meds and comfortable.

  • sue

    My lab is 11 has a lump on his side has lost 15 pounds in 3 months low appetite and energy vet is going to do bloodwork to see if its cancer I chose not to remove it due to his age and vet agreed I have had him all of his 11 years he had been my best buddy can’t imagine life without him any ideas would be appreciated

    • Desiree Seifert

      think of you’re dog quality of life, as hard as it is to have them put down, it just might be the best thing to do, do you want to see the poor thing suffer?

  • Maria Luisa Moreira

    This is very scare to me bc i have may chi sick he don want to eat and may vet is not sure yet the reason, i just call for the specialty hospital in carry nc for the ultrasound test i don want to take chance with hem bc his little brother have and die from stomach cancer, he was may baby since he was 6 ounces and die at 11 years young, i still feeling his lost almost 2 years latter, i don want to b without may baby this will kill me bc he is may father baby and i will b like loosing part of may daddy again, may dad die in 2004 so this is terrible for me and anybody who lost a family member. i am praying god for may baby so he is ok bc i am not ready yet and i will never b!!!! the best for me is to go strait to the best vet hospital just to make sure a vet don make any mistake and i want to make sure his heath will not b damage by waiting for a vet to see wat is going on i want to save time and want to go strait to the mayor what if? i hope is just a little nothing and may baby is ok, but i am afraid bc he is acting the same like may other baby his little brother wend he have cancer, i want to b wrong!!!!!!!

  • Hertha Nielsen

    Look for nose bleeding , my GS got that before liver cancer !

  • Nobam2012

    I have ab 8 year old American Bulldog that sinks to high Heaven. His breath and nostrils mostly. I can bathe him and he stinks again in just 1-2 days. Other than that he’s great. He never use to stink like this.

  • Ashley Ella Gorski

    My 11 1/2 y/o dog, Molly has a big bumb on her side and near the middle of her belly and I am assuming the one on her side is a tumor that may contain cancer.

  • Mk Ahlsen

    My heartdog, a black lab named Tiny, had cancer. He went from a muscular 85 lbs. to 50 lbs. in less than 3 months. He was 14 yrs and 9 months old so we decided the most humane thing to do was help him to the Bridge. I still miss my boy even though it has been 10 years and several other great, loved dogs have entered my life since.

  • Jackie Smith

    Hello,

    I did get that exact phone call back in Ocotber of 2013… “lymphoma” is what the vet said. After further testing a week later, he gave our then 13 year old Guinevere who is a cockapoo mix 6 weeks to live. She also had arthritis, was losing her sight and hearing and seemed disoriented. He suggested we go ahead and put her to sleep. I just couldn’t do it. We’ve had her since she was a tiny pup and making that decision was too much to bear. We waited to see if she would eat and begin drinking water again. I began giving her water with a syringe. I also prayed for her. She began to eat and drink a little at a time. Here we are almost 10 months later and she is still with us (she turned 14 in January). She has her good days (not great) and her bad days. Unfortunately, she has developed a tumor on her side that has grown consistently and now has opened up and is bleeding. We are about to make that very hard choice in the next few days to lay her to sleep. She has been such a great dog and has brought us so much joy! We love her so much and she is a part of our family. understand, however that we can’t hang on to her selfishly. The hardest part for me is that she still recognizes us and doesn’t seem to be in pain.

    I will be calling the vet tomorrow….

    Just thought I’d share. This is hard.