Pet cancer: What you need to know

Pet cancer: What you need to know

Summer offers plenty of potential for fun times with your pet, but it also provides an opportunity to make the best choices when it comes to pet health, with the help of information from Nationwide.

Last year Nationwide created a team of veterinarians and biostatisticians to study claims with the goal of providing pet parents and veterinary healthcare teams with evidence-based information to help in choosing care options. The first three studies looked at which dogs are at the highest risk for cancer. From that series here’s some information worth knowing this summer.


Your dog may limp for many reasons, including “weekend warrior” soreness, knee problems and cuts on paws. But be aware that for large and extra-large dogs, and especially for breeds such as the rottweiler and Great Dane, a limp may be an early sign of bone cancer. These dogs are at much higher risk for the disease than smaller dogs—rottweilers, for example, are 10 times more likely to have a claim for bone cancer than other dogs. Limping, especially in larger dogs, should be checked out by your veterinarian as soon as possible. Early detection offers the best possible treatment options for your dog.

For smaller dogs, a wait-and-see approach to a limp is an option but check with your veterinarian to be sure or to start on medication that will ease any pain.

Lumps and bumps

Many dogs get clipped short in the summer, and it’s easier to catch lumps and bumps on a pet with shorter fur. Take advantage of this by inviting your pet up on the couch or get down on the floor with them and start petting in their favorite spots. Ears? Belly? We know you know what they love! From there, gently expand your petting while you praise your pet, going over every inch and making note of anything out of the ordinary.

Be especially aware of any swollen lymph nodes under the jaw, in front of the shoulders, in the “armpit,” the groin or behind the knees on the hind legs. Swelling in these areas may be an indication of lymphatic cancer (lymphoma), and again, larger dogs are at greater risk. For all female dogs, check the belly around their nipples. Mammary cancer, although uncommon in spayed dogs, is one of the few cancers that claims data show as affecting small dogs more than large ones, so be aware of the higher risk to those pets. When in doubt, make an appointment to have your veterinarian check out any swelling, lump or bump that looks suspicious.

For more pet health insights from Nationwide’s veterinary experts, visit for the latest studies.