November is Pet Cancer Awareness Month. Each year, more than six million dogs and six million cats are diagnosed with cancer. Cancer is the leading cause of death in pets beyond middle age. Knowing what to look for can help with early detection, and as with people, make a difference. Following are the top 10 warning signs of cancer in companion animals. If you notice any of these signs in your pet, please consult a veterinarian.

  1. Abnormal swellings that persist or continue to grow

Pet your pet! This is the best way to find lumps, bumps, or swellings that could be anywhere on the body.

  1. Sores that do not heal

Non-healing sores can be a sign of infection or cancer. Your veterinarian can determine the reason why the sore is not healing.

  1. Weight loss

If your pet is not on a diet, but is losing weight, illness could be to blame.

  1. Loss of appetite

It is not normal for pets to lose their appetite. This may be a sign of illness.

  1. Bleeding or discharge

Bleeding can occur for many reasons – most of which are abnormal. Note that vomiting and diarrhea are examples of abnormal discharge.

  1. Offensive odor

This is a common sign especially for tumors in the mouth, nose, or anus.

  1. Difficulty eating or swallowing

This is a common sign of cancers of the mouth and neck.

  1. Hesitation to exercise or loss of stamina

This can be one of the first signs that your pet is not feeling well.

  1. Persistent lameness

There are many causes of lameness, including nerve, muscle or bone cancer.

  1. Difficulty breathing, urinating, or defecating

These problems are likely caused by an underlying health problem. Schedule a veterinary appointment if your pet displays any of these symptoms. Early detection and treatment are important for pets, just as for people.