Pet Cancer Awareness Month – What you should know


At 7 years old, Fanny, a mixed breed of Pomeranian and Maltese, was full of life. She was playful, easy to train, happy to go for short walks and cuddle. Slowly she began to “hide.” Not under or behind things; but she simply began to hang out away from her people. The normally social pet was lying on the couch in the basement, or on the bed alone. Not typical behavior, as wherever the gang went, Fanny tagged along. She seemed to slow down a bit too, showing her age. She also seemed a little crabby and didn’t want to be cuddled like usual.

Over the course of a long holiday weekend, Fanny didn’t seem to want any food. Her tail still wagged, she still drank a little water and pottied, but just seemed a little off. She also seemed to have a cough. Monday morning came and Fanny’s bark sounded hoarse. She was lethargic. In petting her, she was found to have swollen glands. The signs were clear –  she had something that probably needed a quick look at from the vet. A prescription perhaps, and she’d be as good as new. No wonder she’d been less social lately.

The results at the visit to the vet that day were unexpected. He knew immediately Fanny had an aggressive form of cancer and her life was near its end. She never came home.

Fanny is still missed, and there is much regret that she didn’t see the veterinarian sooner, when her quality of life could have been improved until the end.

Fanny was my dog. And I wish I had known the signs of pet cancer. I wish I had taken her to the vet more often for wellness checks. I wish I was a better dog owner.

Here are 10 signs of cancer in dogs, according to

  1. A mass, bump or lump under the skin that continues to grow
  2. Sores that do not heal
  3. Weight loss
  4. Loss of appetite
  5. Difficulty eating
  6. Bleeding or discharge
  7. Offensive odor
  8. Persistent lameness or stiffness
  9. Difficulty urinating, defecating or breathing
  10. Loss of stamina

Fanny showed none of these signs until her final few days. So, along with the above symptoms, it is important to also look for changes in personality like “hiding,” not wanting to be held or picked up and changes in social behavior. Sometimes it’s the little things we should look out for.

November is National Dog Cancer Awareness Month. And now you know what I wish I did all those years ago.

Tags: pet cancer, pet loss

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