In recent times, there has been a significant rise in the incidence of cancer in dogs, as well as feline cancer. The main culprit seems to be the manner in which we have treated our environment and the lifestyle of convenience that we have adopted. We look for readymade quick solutions for everything - for ourselves and for the pets we bring home. Home cooked food seems to have become a thing of the past. Commercial foods containing harmful preservatives and coloring agents are becoming the order of the day with little regard being paid to the long term effects of chemicals and toxins that go in to producing them.
We all know that cancer takes time to be detected. We also know that it usually manifests itself when it is almost impossible to cure it completely. What most of us would like to know is why it is so. The term neoplasia is used interchangeably with cancer. Neoplasia is the pathological process that results in the formation and growth of a tumor. It requires a billion cells or thirty times of dividing and multiplying before a tumor can be seen. Malignancy occurs only when these rapidly dividing cancer cells invade normal tissue.
Malignant cancers can spread through the blood stream or lymphatic vessels. There are many types of cancers that spread to specific neighboring or distant organs, but the most common sites are lymph nodes, lungs and liver. To add to the problem, symptoms of most types of cancer, like the symptoms of liver cancer in dogs, tend to surface prominently only when the disease has reached an advanced stage.
It is imperative that attention be paid to even subtle behavioral and physical changes in dogs for ruling out or confirming the prevalence of cancer. Many types of cancer can be effectively treated, even cured, if it is attended to in the early stages. Some of the signs that may indicate cancer as an underlying cause are easily listed into ten general symptoms. It will not be out of place to mention here that these signs apply to humans also.
- Abnormal swelling that refuses to go away even after treatment
- A sore, lesion or a wound that does not heal within a reasonable time period
- Weight loss despite sufficient diet
- Incessant bleeding or discharge from any opening in the body
- Difficulty in urinating or passing stools
- Chronic diarrhea or vomiting
- Loss of stamina and difficulty in breathing
- Subtle changes like increased sleep, lack of interest and refusal to play
- Foul odor
- Refusal to eat for more than two days
Most of the symptoms can be noticed easily if you are observant and indulgent while grooming. Any abnormal sign that was not there when you last groomed the dog should be brought to the notice of the veterinarian. Nine times out of ten it may turn out to be a minor ailment but that should not reason to be negligent. Remember that early detection can save the life of your pet.