SEATTLE -- Cancer is the No. 1 disease-related killer of dogs and cats. 1-in-4 dogs will develop some form of cancer. Your pet groomer is actually your best defense in diagnosing cancer in your pet. Keith Remon and Ashley Bishop from Petco have tips on what to look out for in your pet.

  • Eyes: A pet's eye color should be bright. If a pet's eyes are dull in color or have a green or yellow discharge, there may be an underlying issue such as an allergy, infection or something more serious. Bloodshot eyes could signal an issue, as well. However, a dog that is stressed may have bloodshot eyes, so it's important to evaluate the situation and determine how long the condition has been present.
  • Ears: It's natural for a pet to have an odor to its ears, but when the odor is strong, there may be an issue. Ears that are swollen, tender and have discharge are also critical red flags.
  • Nose: Look for changes in texture and color. A prolonged dry, cracked nose, particularly with loss of pigmentation, scabs or open sores, should be examined by your veterinarian sooner rather than later. Sensitivity to contact, and nasal discharge, are also warning signs.
  • Mouth: Groomers, of course, look for old, decaying teeth and swollen gums, which could be signs of gum disease. But when teeth look healthy and the gums are puffy, it may signal another underlying health issue.
  • Paws: Cracked pads typically result from irritants, diet or rough terrain, and are not necessarily indicators of a more serious problem. However, the pet should still be seen by a veterinarian.
  • Skin & Coat: Groomers run their hands along the pet's body to check for bumps, scrapes, lumps, hot spots, warts and matting. Lumps or other growths can be a sign of cancer. Any raised surface should be examined by a veterinarian.
  • Underside: Swollen anal glands can be a sign that they need to be expressed, but if a pet reacts negatively to being touched, have a veterinarian examine the area.
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