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Cancer In Dogs: Causes, Signs & Treatment Options

Cancer In Dogs: Causes, Signs & Treatment Options

Our Benicia vets know that finding a lump on your canine friend can be very worrying. While many lumps are not cancer-related, there are a number of common cancers in dogs, and diligent pet parents should know more about the signs of this serious disease.

Types Of Cancer In Dogs

Our dogs are beloved members of our families and are frequently our most loyal friends, so we know that it's distressing to think that your dog may have an illness as serious as cancer. While no one really wants to think about their dog becoming unwell knowing what the signs of cancer are in dogs, so that you can spot any symptoms early, is your best way of helping your dog get treatment before the disease becomes more advanced.

It may surprise you to learn that dogs can get many of the same types of cancer that people do, and with very similar symptoms.

Here are some of the most common types of cancer in dogs:


Lymphoma is a very common form of cancer in dogs; there are more than 30 types that dogs can develop. In fact, lymphoma is a generic term used by vets to describe a group of cancers that stem from a type of white blood cell called lymphocytes that help the immune system to fight off infection. The most common types of dog lymphoma are: multicentric, alimentary, mediastinal and extranodal lymphoma.

Mast Cell Tumor

Mast cell tumors are found on the dog's skin, and depending on the location can be difficult for your vet to remove. The good news is that this type of cancer in dogs can be cured if the tumor is detected early and fully removed.


Melanoma also causes skin tumors. These are often located in and around the dog's mouth or on their feet. Melanoma is prone to spreading quickly to other areas of the dog's body and tends to be malignant.

Osteosarcoma (Bone Cancer)

This is the most common form of bone cancer in dogs, and although it can affect any breed or size of canine, it is most often seen in larger breeds.


This form of cancer is very serious and requires emergency intervention or it may quickly become fatal! Hemangiosarcoma tumors in dogs can grow quite large and are often found in the spleen, but can develop anywhere blood vessels are present. It is a serious condition because it can spread to other organs, including the dog's heart and lungs.


This slow-spreading cancer is difficult to treat in dogs, with amputation and radiation being common forms of treatment. These treatments are used to prevent the reoccurrence of the cancer. 

Signs & Symptoms Of Cancer In Dogs

It can be hard to see signs of cancer by simply looking at your dog. Even blood work often isn't able to detect detain types of cancers in dogs.  That said, there are some signs that you can watch for that can indicate your dog may have cancer. Like humans, early detection is key to improving treatment outcomes when it comes to cancer in dogs. If your dog is displaying any of the following signs, make an appointment to see your vet as soon as possible.

  • Wounds or sores that don't heal
  • Bleeding or discharge
  • Loss of appetite
  • Inexplicable weight loss
  • Strong odor
  • Swelling
  • Lumps or bumps beneath the skin
  • Lethargy, depression, lack of interest in exercise
  • Difficulty or pain breathing or coughing
  • Straining or difficulty going to the bathroom
  • Challenges when eating or swallowing
  • Pain or difficulty walking, lameness or stiffness

Diagnosis Of Cancer In Dogs

It is essential to be aware of changes in your dog's behavior and pay attention to any bumps or lumps you may feel while petting and grooming 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 Benicia 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 or bumps. Through testing and a thorough examination, your vet will be able to determine if your dog has cancer and what the best treatment options are.

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 your dog is showing any of the symptoms listed above or needs urgent care, contact Animal Clinic of Benicia  for help.

New Patients Always Welcome

Animal Clinic of Benicia is accepting new patients! Our skilled vets are passionate about the health of Benicia companion animals. Contact us today to book your pet's first appointment.

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