JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Do you check your dog for cancer? Here's the F-U-R-R-Y method to catch cancer early and save your four-legged child. We call it Doggy Check.

We found cancer in our rescue pup's ear as small as a bb. The surgeon, Dr. Carlos Agular from BluePearl Pet Hospital, says we caught it so early it was "perfect."  

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Clean margins. No cancer treatment even necessary. 

Riley lost a chunk of his ear, but he's "cancer free."  Hooray! 

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Trouble is vets tell me 40% of dogs with mast cell cancer get a malignant tumor again. So we are definitely starting Doggy Check at our house.

How do you check?  Veterinary Radiation Oncologist Dr. Tracy LaDue at SEVO-MED says, "Lumps and bumps are important."  

Here's what she taught me:


F- Feet 

Check between their toes.  Look under their feet between their pads. "Look for any abnormal swelling," Dr. LaDue says.  "Make sure there aren't any lumps or bumps." 

U - Underneath

"One of the places people missis their armpits," she says. "It's not a typical place we look on dogs." 

So check the armpits and look under your dog on their bellies. 

Check under their chins, as well.  Dr. LaDue says we pet their heads all the time, but feel in places you don't normally pet. 

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R - Raise Their Tails

As Dr. LaDue puts it, "Open the hatch. Inspect for swellings and lumps. And for dogs reaching ages 6-8 years old, they need a rectal exam. They get prostate cancer and anal sac tumors."  So look for a growth or anything suspicious. Even ask your veterinarian to check. 

R - Raise Their Ears

Dr. LaDue says people forget to look inside their dog's ears. (Check outside, too.)

Y -- Yapper

Look inside your dog's mouth. Lift his lips. Inspect for lumps or bleeding or an especially bad odor. 

And keep in mind some malignant lumps in dogs feel hard. Others can feel flabby and fatty.

Don't be fooled. A cancer might look like a pimple or a bug bite This is a mast cell cancer on a dog: 

Mast Cell Cancer On a Dog

If you find something that worries you, ask your vet, "Should we get a biopsy or a fine needle aspiration?"  You might ask about an ultrasound, too.

If you can't afford a veterinarian, reach out to First Coast No More Homeless Pets In Jacksonville, Florida at 904-425-0005. 

Dr. LaDue says 50% of dogs over age 10 get cancer, but it can happen at any age. Riley, for example, is just four years old.

If you have an experience with your dog and cancer, please email Jeannie Blaylock at jblaylock@firstcoastnews.com. 

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