Cancer in dogs – 10 signs that your dog has cancer!

Cancer in dogs is a race against time. In order to be able to treat cancer in the best possible way, time is the most important factor. The earlier the disease is detected, the better are the chances of treatment. How to recognize cancer in your dog and what types of cancer there are, you will learn here.

What is cancer in the dog?

Cancer is understood to be malignant neoplasm of tissue in the body of the dog. Not every tissue neoplasm is immediately a cancer. Many forms of tissue neoplasm in dogs are benign, for example abscesses, warts or cysts.

To check if it is a malignant tumor, several examinations must be made. Scientific studies have been dealing with the development of cancer for a long time.

What causes cancer in the dog’s body

Cancer in dogs

In case of surgical treatment, cancer cells must be removed completely!

Tumors can lead to Destruction of vital organs such as liver, lungs and kidneys, occur. Some cancers can penetrate to the brain and cause considerable damage there. Also internal bleedings are not rare.

Since cancer growth is associated with high energy consumption, the dog lacks this energy. There is weak immune system and to the emaciation of the dog.

What are the causes of cancer?

Until today the exact causes of cancer are unclear. However, it is not unclear that Environmental influences increase the risk of cancer. In the environment and in the food there are factors which promote cancer. Among them are for example UV radiation or heavy metals in the food.

With increasing age of the dog the risk that he will get cancer increases. This is due to the fact that throughout his life he has been exposed to many factors that promote cancer.

If there is a case of cancer in the dog’s family history, the probability that the dog will develop cancer also increases.

Dogs with white fur have a particularly high risk of developing cancer. You have only little protection against UV radiation, Which increases the risk of developing cancer.

How does cancer become noticeable in dogs?

Abnormal swellings

Cancer is an uncontrolled cell growth. By very many cells so-called Tumors. These can often be seen from the outside, but also by x-ray or ultrasound.

The tumor usually grows continuously, with the growth of the tumor slowing down as the size increases. It is not always possible to make a diagnosis based on appearance and shape. A biopsy or fine-needle aspiration can be used to determine whether it is cancer or another disease.

In fine needle aspiration, the veterinarian pierces the tumor with a thin needle to extract cells from inside the tumor. These cells can be used to determine what type of tumor it is.

Knots on the skin& Wounds that do not heal

If you find on the skin of the dog small Hardening, bumps, blisters or nodules, they could be due to cancer. These lumps can appear on all parts of the body of the dog.

Skin cancer often resembles wounds or pressure sores. Unlike skin cancer, wounds disappear within a few weeks. With the help of a skin biopsy it can be checked whether it is skin cancer.

Behavior change

Changes in your dog’s behavior can be a sign that he is in pain or not feeling well. Is he perhaps withdrawing, although he has always been very curious? You know your dog best and should be able to recognize if something is wrong with him.

weight loss& Loss of appetite

Since cancer in dogs, for example, constricts the digestive system or causes pain, appetite is often lost. Due to the reduced calorie intake, your dog loses weight.

If your dog eats normally and still loses weight, it could be due to a type of cancer that affects the Metabolic organs infests. In addition, the growth of cancer cells is associated with enormous energy consumption. This is how it comes to Emaciation and Weakness of the whole body.

Bleeding& excretions

Some types of cancer are noticeable through bleeding or other types of discharge. frequent nosebleeds can for example indicate a tumor in the nose, while more often bloody ear discharge may indicate a tumor in the ear canal.

Female spayed dogs with bloody vaginal discharge may have uterine cancer, for example.

Unpleasant body odor

Bad smell from various orifices of the dog can indicate tumors.

Lack of movement

A stiff gait or lameness in the dog, often indicates osteoarthritis in older dogs. However, there is also the possibility that your dog has bone cancer. An x-ray must be taken for clarification.

Difficulty breathing

With cancers that affect the lungs, dogs get out of breath very quickly. Dog owners notice that their dog gets tired faster while walking.

Important: Cancer in dogs is often not noticed for a long time, because the symptoms can also be due to a range of other diseases. In case of doubt and in order not to lose time, going to the vet is always the right thing to do.

How to diagnose cancer in dogs?

In addition to Ultrasound, X-ray, computer tomography and other laboratory tests a tumor is often still detected by manual palpation. Since cancers are often caused by specific changes in the blood, cancer can be diagnosed with the help of blood tests.

It is always an advantage if cancer is detected very early. This increases the chances of being able to treat cancer in the best possible way.

The most common cancers in dogs

Mammary gland cancer

Half of all tumor-like changes in bitches are mammary gland tumors. The risk of developing this type of cancer can be minimized by spaying before the first heat.

Skin cancer

20 – 30 % of all tumor-like changes on the skin of the dog are malignant. The size, shape and consistency can give the vet information if it is a malignant tumor. In further examinations tissue samples are taken from the dog, which are further examined in the laboratory. skin cancer can occur in dogs of any breed and age. Dogs with light colored fur are especially likely to get skin cancer.


Lymphatic cancer in dogs is the third most common cancer. This results in tumors in the lymph glands. If the cancer affects white blood cells, it is called leukemia.

Mouth cancer

Another common cancer in dogs is cancer of the oral cavity. Dogs suffering from these diseases eat poorly and lose weight. Since the dog’s mouth is hardly controlled by the dog owner, a tumor is only noticed when the dog’s eating behavior changes.

Soft tissue and bone cancer

In these cancers, dogs develop tumors of the soft tissues or musculoskeletal system. Examples are nose and brain tumors, fibrosarcomas (connective tissue) or osteosarcomas (bones).

Treatment of cancer in dogs

Malignant tumors in the dog can often be surgical can be removed if the location of the tumor allows surgical intervention. If for example healthy organs could be damaged during the operation, surgery should be avoided. Instead, the tumor can be treated with chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

Surgical treatment

During surgery, the tumor must completely be removed. For this even need to cut into healthy tissue. If even a single tumor cell remains, cancer can develop again at this site.


Chemotherapy in dogs is a curse and a blessing at the same time. Without the chemotherapy some four-legged friends would not be saved, nevertheless the chemo is for their Side effects known. Four-legged patients receive so-called cytostatics. This is a cytotoxin that acts especially on cells that divide rapidly. Exactly this cell division is typical for cancer cells.

Unfortunately, this cytotoxin not only affects cancer cells, but also affects other cells, which divide rapidly. The side effects of chemotherapy are therefore temporary Damage to blood cell formation, hair loss, nausea and vomiting.


Depending on the tumor, radiation therapy is used alone or in combination with chemotherapy or surgery. It can be useful to irradiate a tumor before surgical intervention. This will help him before surgery Reduces. Radiation after surgery is also possible to destroy leftover cell remnants of the tumor.

Alternative treatment methods

Alternative treatment methods against cancer aim at a strong immune system of the dog from. This way the animal organism is supported to fight the tumor. The dog’s immune system can be strengthened with a balanced diet Nutrition and a healthy level of Exercise be strengthened. A healthy immune system should be ensured even before the diagnosis is made. Very important: Please do not go it alone, but go with your dog to the vet in any case and apply the recommendations of the doctor.

Joints Quiz

Joints Quiz

Nutrition in dogs with cancer

The diet of the dog plays a very important role in the treatment of cancer. Your dog should be as active as possible calorie to be fed. This is due to the fact that the growth of cancer cells is associated with high energy consumption. The lost energy is otherwise missing your dog, which leads to emaciation and weakness.

To which the body of the dog needs many Vitamins, minerals, proteins and fats. For example, high quality fat-rich meat is ideal for this purpose.

Papaya is also recommended. The papaya contains enzymes which favorable in cancer patients can have an effect. In addition, raspberries or some other fruits, vegetables and herbs are still suitable. It is therefore advisable to design the vegetable/fruit portion of the feed with such foods.

How to prevent cancer in dogs

It is hardly possible to protect the dog from all environmental influences. A dog’s life with balanced diet and a healthy amount of Movement offers a certain protection, because it strengthens the immune system of the dog.

A Regular examination at the vet does not prevent cancer, but cancer can be detected at an early stage. The earlier cancer is detected in dogs, the better the chances of treatment.

Light colored dogs in particular should be protected from excessive sun exposure. As you have learned before, the risk of cancer is higher in dogs with white fur.

In addition, if bitches are spayed before their first heat, the risk of mammary gland cancer is very low.

When to euthanize for cancer?

The treatment of cancer in dogs, for example with chemotherapy, is often associated with severe side effects. Often a little lifetime gained, which by the side effects with Quality of life forfeited becomes. Therefore you should first of all talk to your vet about it. Also, it is important to have tried all the options to improve the quality of life.

There is no general answer as to whether the dog should be euthanized if it has cancer. It is important that you act in the sense of the dog. This decision has to be made by you as an animal owner and you have to be able to live with it later.

There are many more canine diseases your dog could be suffering from. Therefore, we have prepared for you an overview of the most common dog diseases with the various causes, symptoms and treatment options: The most common dog diseases – causes, symptoms and treatment at a glance!

5 Comments on" Cancer in dogs – 10 signs that your dog has cancer! ”

Our family member Jay (Husky) is almost 14 years old and not neutered. Among other things, he suffers from anal tumors that burst more and more often and are now very painful. Before Christmas a vet wanted to put him to sleep but over Christmas he became fitter so that he then said, thank God we have not done that. We try to keep this as clean as possible and so he doesn’t keep biting them open he has a funnel.
In January an ultrasound was done to see if they had spread, because in the meantime he also has a tumor on the inner ear, but fortunately he has not. Now the weeks went quite well without what was noticeable. Since last week these have burst open twice and he is not walking properly and is in pain.
Now another veterinarian of this practice came and said that you have to operate on it. Now I have read a lot and have a second opinion of another practice have advised against him now to operate and we are now very indecisive, the reason is that he already has a very high age for a husky and the problem at that age is the wound healing (there could be significant wound healing disorder) and the sphincter could make problems that it can come to a fecal incontinence and it is then worse as before.
Due to the age would also be questionable as he or. whether he will survive the whole thing and whether he will not have more pain afterwards and we
do him any favor at all and do not want to burden him with it unnecessarily.
Maybe you can give us some advice since we have two different opinions from two veterinarians?
Thank you

Hello Armin,
thank you for your detailed comment. This is a very sad and bad thing.
But unfortunately I cannot give you any advice. My suggestion would be that you get a third opinion from another veterinarian. From a distance, it is simply not possible to give good tips and help you well.

From your description I can already see that Jay is not well. That he may suffer even more than he shows.. I am sure that you are very concerned about the well-being of Jay. But a life in pain is no longer a good dog’s life. So please also think about it (and discuss it with a vet), if it might not soon be time to put Jay out of his misery.. we also wrote about it here: https://dog-native.en/dogs-sleep/

Please excuse me for not being able to give you a better and more positive answer. I wish you a lot of strength in this time and I hope very much that Jay will feel better soon!

How can it be in the evening, my dog was well on it again. And the next morning also but after the vet visit he was suddenly very very badly. vet has treated him for infection. And after inside tumors have been detected.

My dog has malignant cancer and at the moment it seems to have also affected the lungs. Is it better to put my dog to sleep he coughs all the time what should I do?.

Hello Marion,
thanks for the question. I am very sorry that your dog has malignant cancer.
Unfortunately we can’t answer your question. Please talk to your veterinarian about this. He will be able to tell you better how the further treatment looks like and also decide in the best interest of the animal. So please make an appointment with the vet. Thanks a lot!

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