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Does my cat or dog have cancer?

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For a pet owner, learning that your furry family member has cancer can be just as scary as hearing that news about a human family member. Unfortunately, about 12 million dogs and cats get a cancer diagnosis in the U.S. every year.1 Now the good news: With today’s diagnostic tools and treatments, a cat or dog with cancer stands a better-than-ever chance of beating the disease. But much depends on early detection.

14 signs of cancer in dogs and cats

The signs of pet cancer vary depending on the type of cancer involved. However, these 14 symptoms of cancer in dogs and cats are all reason to make an appointment with your veterinarian.

  • Swollen lymph nodes — easiest to detect under the jaw, in the armpits or behind the knee
  • Abdominal swelling — may look like a “pot belly” or weight gain/loss
  • Other unusual swellings, lumps or bumps, especially if they don’t go away or they grow — check around your pet’s ears, in the mouth and around the face
  • Sudden, unexplained or excessive weight loss when you haven’t changed your pet’s diet
  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing or drinking
  • Increased thirst or loss of appetite
  • Blood or other discharge from the nose, mouth or other body openings (including unusual drooling), or blood in your pet’s urine or stool
  • Unexplained limping or lameness, or wounds that don’t heal
  • Difficulty urinating or other changes in bathroom behaviors
  • Diarrhea or vomiting
  • Bad mouth odor
  • Coughing or difficulty breathing
  • Hiding (particularly with cats) or other behavior changes
  • Any signs of pain or discomfort

Diagnosing cancer in dogs and cats

To confirm cancer, your veterinarian may take one or more of the following diagnostic steps:

  • Blood tests
  • Biomarker screening tests
  • Biopsies (surgically removing a tumor sample for analysis)
  • Fine needle aspiration (extracting a sample with a needle instead of surgery)
  • X-rays, ultrasound or MRI

Cat and dog cancer treatment

A confirmed cancer diagnosis also provides information on what type of cancer your pet has and how advanced it is. That information will help your veterinarian create a treatment plan, possibly working in conjunction with a veterinary oncologist, or cancer specialist.

Cancer treatment for your pet might include one or a combination of the following:

  • Surgery to remove growths
  • Radiation to reduce the size of the growth
  • Chemotherapy to prevent the cancer from spreading
  • Immunotherapy (using antibodies to boost the body’s natural defenses)
  • Dietary changes
  • Pain management

As your veterinarian discusses cancer treatment options with you, make sure to ask about side effects, quality of life, costs and prognosis, so you can make the right decisions for you and your pet.

More tips to help your cat or dog with cancer

No one wants to hear that their dog or cat has cancer. But with early detection and a veterinarian-guided treatment plan, your pet has the best chance of continuing to live a full, happy life. Your CareCredit credit card can help, too, giving you a convenient way to manage the cost of exams, diagnostics and treatments. You can use the CareCredit Acceptance Locator or Mobile App to find a nearby veterinary practice that accepts the CareCredit credit card.

Sources
1“FAQs,” Animal Cancer Foundation, http://acfoundation.org/faqs/, accessed June 19, 2019
“Dog Cancer: What You Need to Know About Symptoms & Treatment,” PetsBest.com, posted May 15, 2019, https://www.petsbest.com/blog/dog-cancer-treatment-symptoms-support/, accessed June 19, 2019
“Cancer in Pets,” AVMA.org, https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/Cancer-in-Pets.aspx, accessed June 13, 2019
“Top 10 Warning Signs of Cancer in Your Pet,” PetCureOncology.com, https://petcureoncology.com/top-10-warning-signs-of-cancer-in-your-pet/, accessed June 13, 2019
“Which pet cancer treatment option is right for my dog or cat?” PetCureOncology.com, https://petcureoncology.com/making-a-treatment-decision/treatments/, accessed June 13, 2019
CareCredit provides information solely for your convenience. Please always consult with a veterinarian on any medical decisions for your pets. Neither Synchrony nor any of its affiliates, including CareCredit, make any representations or warranties regarding the products or services described.

Use CareCredit for veterinary procedures financing

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