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Common Signs & Symptoms of Cancer in Dogs

Our Greensboro vets understand that finding a lump or bump on your canine best friend can be very concerning. While many lumps are not caused by cancer, there are a number of common cancers that appear in dogs, and it can be helpful to watch for signs of this serious disease. 

Types of Cancer in Dogs

Our dogs are probably among our most loyal friends. We also count them as much-loved family members, so it’s worrying to think of your dog getting a serious illness such as cancer.

No one really wants to think about their dog becoming seriously ill. However, knowing the signs and symptoms of cancer in dogs is helpful so you can spot any symptoms early is one of the best ways to help your dog get treatment while the disease is in its early stages.

It may surprise you to learn that dogs can get many of the same types of cancer that can infect us humans. They may also experience similar symptoms.

Here are some of the most common types of cancer that our Greensboro vets see in dogs:


Lymphoma is a very common type of cancer in dogs, and there are more than 30 categories of lymphoma that can develop in their bodies. Lymphoma is actually a generic team vets use to describe a group of cancers which stem from a type of white blood cell called lymphocytes.

These help the immune system fight off infection. The most common types of lymphoma in dogs are: alimentary, multicentric, extranodal and mediastinal lymphoma.


Skin tumors can be caused by melanoma, which is prone to spreading quickly to other areas of a dog’s body. It tends to be malignant. Vets often find these tumors in and around a dog’s mouth or on their feet.

Mast Cell Tumor

Mast cell tumors affect a dog’s skin, and may be difficult for your vet to remove depending on the location. The good news: This type of cancer in dogs can be cured if the tumor is found early and completely removed.


This slow-spreading type of cancer in dogs can be challenging to treat. Radiation and amputation are commonly used to treat dogs with fibrosarcoma, in order to prevent it from returning.


This very serious form of cancer requires emergency intervention, or it may quickly become fatal. Hemangiosarcoma tumors in dogs can grow quite large. They are typically found in the spleen, but can grow anywhere blood vessels are and may spread to other organs, including a dog’s heart and lungs.

Osteosarcoma (Bone Cancer)

This is the most common form of bone cancer in dogs. Though osteosarcoma can develop in any breed, our vets see this type of cancer most often in larger breeds.

It can be challenging to detect signs and symptoms of cancer simply by looking at your dog. In fact, even blood work may not detect certain cancers in dogs. However, you can watch for some signs that may indicate your dog could have cancer.

As with people, early detection is critical to positive treatment outcomes when it comes to eliminating cancer from a dog’s body. If any of the following signs are appearing in your dog, book an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.

Signs & Symptoms of Cancer in Dogs

  • Swelling
  • Sores that don’t heal
  • Strong odor
  • Bleeding or discharge
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Appetite loss
  • Difficulty or pain when walking, stiffness or lameness
  • Lumps or pumps below the skin
  • Challenges when swallowing or eating
  • Disinterest in exercise, lethargy or depression
  • Straining to go to the bathroom
  • Coughing, or difficult or painful breathing


It’s critical to be aware of changes in your dog’s behavior, body and physical health. You should also pay attention to any lumps or bumps you may find on your canine friend’s body while grooming or petting him.

If your furry friend is displaying one or more of the symptoms listed above, schedule an appointment with your vet immediately.

Your Greensboro vet may do a biopsy or other diagnostic test, then send it to our in-house lab for testing. The vet may also palpate your dog to feel for any bumps or lumps. By performing tests and a thorough physical exams, your vet will be able to determine whether your dog has cancer, then recommend best treatment options.

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.

Is your dog showing signs of illness? Contact your vet to schedule an appointment. If your pet is in need of more urgent care, contact our Greensboro animal clinic today.

Types of cancer in dogs, Greensboro Vet

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