The suspicion of a tumor in a dog is extremely anxiety-provoking for its owner because it raises fear of cancer. But not all tumors are malignant. Fortunately, many of them are benign and will never degenerate into a cancerous tumor. Anyway, at the slightest alert, it is essential to consult the veterinarian so that the cause of the symptoms is identified as quickly as possible. Let’s take stock of the signs suggestive of a tumor in dogs.
Tumor in dogs: suspicious signs
For some time now, the dog seems to be showing a decline in shape and clinical signs are manifested, for example:
- Sudden weight loss,
- Skin problems,
- Transit disorders,
- Unusual unpleasant odor emanating from the dog’s mouth, breath, ears, wound, etc.,
- A change in behavior,
- A wound that does not heal,
- Digestive disorders,
- Respiratory disorders, whether or not associated with coughing,
- The enlargement of the lymph nodes,
- A mass perceptible on palpation and whose volume increases rapidly,
Certainly, the dog can present some of these symptoms without suffering from cancer because many pathologies can be associated with it. Likewise, a mass can be a simple nodule or a cyst for example. However, in the slightest doubt, it is obviously necessary consult the vet quickly. If it is a cancerous tumor, its early diagnosis greatly increases the chances of successful treatment.
Malignant tumor or benign tumor in dogs: the diagnosis
The stake is certainly not the same! But to identify with certainty the type of tumor from which the dog suffers, it is imperative that he undergoes various examinations such as:
- Biopsy : performed under general anesthesia, it consists of taking a tiny piece of tissue. In some cases, it is performed in conjunction with surgery to remove a tumor.
- Fine needle aspiration : it is the removal of tumor cells using a long and very fine needle. Anesthesia is only necessary if the animal is agitated. Depending on the location of the tumor, fine needle aspiration may require ultrasound guidance. This is the case, for example, when the tumor develops in an internal organ while at the cutaneous level, guidance is unnecessary.
Biopsy and fine needle aspiration are essential to allow histological analysis by which it can be determined whether the dog has a benign tumor or a cancerous tumor. In the latter case, the veterinarian continues his investigations by performing a assessment of extension which may include:
- Blood tests,
- A new biopsy,
- Imaging exams such as radiography, CT scan, MRI, ultrasound.
In the presence of a cancerous tumor, this allows the practitioner to determine whether metastases are disseminated in the body of the animal and to set up an adapted care protocol.
Although some canine breeds have a genetic predisposition to develop certain tumors such as the Boston terrier, the Golden retriever or the Boxer, among others, you should know that any dog - whatever its breed – can one day or another suffer from cancer.
Not all dog cancers are preventable, but we know that one healthy lifestyle (balanced diet, daily physical activity) as well as sterilization are very good means of prevention. Likewise, allowing your dog to be regularly monitored by a veterinarian throughout his life and from an early age is absolutely fundamental for him to stay healthy as long as possible. At least in this way, as soon as there is any doubt, examinations are carried out which allows early diagnosis and treatment.