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Cancer in Dogs - Signs & Symptoms

Our Mooresville vets understand that discovering an unexplained lump on your dog is bound to be alarming. While not all lumps and bumps are cancer-related, dogs do commonly develop a number of different cancers that pet owners should be aware of.

Types of Cancer in Dogs

Surprisingly, dogs can get many of the same types of cancer that people do, and with very similar symptoms. Below are some of the most common types of cancer found in dogs:

  • Melanoma - Skin tumors, are often found in the mouth and feet in dogs. Melanoma can spread quickly to other areas of your dog's body and tends to be malignant.
  • Mast Cell Tumor - These tumors are also found on the skin, and can be difficult to remove depending on the location. That said this type of cancer in dogs can be cured if the tumor is detected early and fully removed.
  • Osteosarcoma (Bone Cancer) - This is the most common bone cancer in dogs. Any breed of dog can be affected, but our vets tend to see this form of cancer most often in larger breeds.
  • Lymphoma/Lymphosarcoma - This is a very common form of cancer in dogs and there are quite a few treatment options available. Most vets have experience in treating this disease.
  • Hemangiosarcoma - This form of cancer requires emergency intervention or it may be quickly fatal! Hemangiosarcoma is most commonly found on internal organs and blood vessels, although it may occasionally be found on the skin. These tumors can grow quite large with bleeding into the pericardium.
  • Fibrosarcoma - This is a slow-spreading form of cancer in dogs but can be difficult to treat. In order to prevent a recurrence, amputation and radiation are the most common treatment options.

Signs & Symptoms of Cancer in Dogs

Unfortunately, it's not always possible to know by looking at your dog that he or she is ill. In fact, even blood work often cannot detect certain cancers in dogs. However, there are some signs that you can watch for that can indicate that your dog may be developing cancer. If your dog is showing any of the following signs, make an appointment to see your vet as soon as possible. Early detection is the key to positive treatment outcomes when it comes to cancer.

  • Sores that don't heal
  • Bleeding or discharge
  • Lumps or bumps beneath the skin
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained Weight loss
  • Lethargy, depression, disinterest in exercise
  • Difficult or painful breathing or coughing
  • Straining when going to the bathroom
  • Strong odor
  • Challenges when eating or swallowing
  • Swelling
  • Pain or difficulty walking, lameness or stiffness


It's important to be aware of changes in your dog's behavior and pay attention to any bumps or lumps you may feel while petting your dog. If your canine friend is displaying one or more of the symptoms listed above, make an appointment to see your vet immediately.

Your Mooresville vet may perform a biopsy or other test that will be sent to a lab for testing, as well as palpate your dog to feel for any lumps. Ultimately, only your vet will be able to determine if your dog has cancer. Your dog's best chance for survival is early detection, so be sure to pay close attention to any changes.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If you're concerned that your dog may have cancer, contact our Mooresville vets to book an appointment immediately.

New Patients Welcome

Lake Norman at Mooresville Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our veterinarians are passionate about improving the health of cats, dogs and exotic pets. Book your pet's first appointment today.

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