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13 Signs Your Chihuahua May Have Cancer

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13-signs-your-chihuahua-may-have-cancerI remember sitting in my home office and watching my fluffy white terri-poo Joey stand up. The little lump that I had felt on his back leg a few days prior was suddenly huge! How did that happen in just a few days?

What was even worse was that there was some spots of blood on his dog bed. I checked the lump and it had cracked open. I’m not sure if Joey had been scratching at it or it just opened because it had grown so big so fast, but there was a foul odor coming from it.

I immediately got him in to see my vet who suspected  cancer. Even if it wasn’t cancer, it needed to be removed as quickly as possible to avoid  infection so he was operated on the next day.

Turns out it was cancerous and a fast growing kind. Fortunately though, it was isolated and hadn’t gone to any other organs so he didn’t need radiation or chemotherapy.

Joey was 13 when this happened and despite the warning from my vet that it would probably come back, it never did. He lived almost another 6 years.

Cancer can strike almost any animal, and our pets are no exception. Like many diseases, cancer is more common in older animals, but can affect pets of any age. So, without getting alarmist or paranoid about it, you want to be on the alert for possible signs of trouble.

According to Cancer Vet Centers, the 5 most common type of cancers that dogs get are: 

  • Bone Cancer also known as Osteosarcoma
  • Hemangiosarcoma
  • Lymphoma
  • Mast Cell Tumors
  • Melanoma

Of course they can get other kinds of cancer but those are the most common types.

The possible warning signs of cancer in chihuahuas are about the same as for any dog, and can also be potential indicators of a wide array of other health problems.

Only your veterinarian can determine for sure. By all means, if you spot one of these signs, have your vet check it out. It might mean nothing more than a minor issue, and knowing that would contribute a lot to your peace of mind!

Look out for these signs, especially in chihuahuas over the age of 10:

Lumps or swellings that persist for more than a short period of time
Sores, especially with bleeding or discharge
• Unexplained weight loss (or gain)
• Loss of appetite
• Apparent difficulties with eating or swallowing
Lethargy and lack of stamina
Unusual odors (although remember, chihuahuas are prone to bad breath and dental issues)
• Unexplained lameness
• Indications that the dog is uncomfortable in certain physical positions
• Digestive symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea
• Changes in elimination habits
Respiratory difficulties
Odd behavioral changes

Can cancer in dogs be prevented?

Not always, and not consistently. Of course, a well-cared-for dog such as yours will present fewer health problems generally, but cancer does not always respect your best efforts. While the incidence of certain cancers such as ovarian, breast, and testicular cancers can be nearly eliminated by early spaying and neutering, those operations may actually increase the risk of of other forms of cancer.

Are all dog tumors malignant?

Certainly not – no more so than in humans. Your vet can advise you on the best way to deal with benign growths.

Can dog cancers be treated?

Often, yes. Admittedly, treatment is not guaranteed of success, and can be expensive. But it is often worth a try. A good veterinarian will present you with the full range of options from the least to most aggressive and the least to most costly.

Although sometimes there is no avoiding the worst scenario, in many instances it is worth fighting for our chihuahuas. If we can gain them more years of life with no significant loss of quality, both we and the dogs are winners.

Cathy signature Chi

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Carol Love

Friday 25th of September 2020

Why does my chiwawa sleep with his butt in the air


Friday 25th of September 2020

I've seen children sleep like that but not dogs so I'm not sure. Probably just a weird chi thing.

Christine Thiel

Thursday 6th of August 2020

My deer head male chihuahua was only a year old when when the vet found blood in his stomach and during surgery for he had cancer .. is that a common thing with male chihuahuas?


Thursday 6th of August 2020

No that's not normal Christine, specially in a dog so young. I'm so sorry you (and he) are going through this.


Sunday 21st of June 2020

My chihuahua is 11 and has a very large hard lump behind her ear. It doesn’t seem to bother her at all And she’s quite happy for it to be touched.... do you think it’s cancer?

Joel Werner

Tuesday 20th of October 2020

@Jan, Hi; I came from the vet just 4 hrs ago I had him put down, he was my only true friend for 7 yrs. He was 13 and I was the 5th owner he was a short haired chihuahua. He has cancer of the bone and he could barely walk but when he saw me he was walking fine, that is why I prolonged the inevitable.


Monday 29th of June 2020

Possibly but probably not but keep an eye on it. Dogs (and people) get these lumps as they age and they are usually nothing but if it grows bigger or starts to bother her, call your vet. And the next time you are at the vet, mention it to them.


Monday 17th of June 2019

My Jack Russell x chihuahua has a horrible cough which sounds like he’s gasping for breath! Vets thinks kennel cough I know it isn’t this has been ongoing for 5/6 years now got really bad about 4 years ago and has been in steroids long term. They’ve not worked this time 2nd week of antibiotics now on anti inflammatory too still not working. Anyone had a chi with these problems?


Monday 17th of June 2019

Yeah kennel cough doesn't last that long. It could be either revese sneezing (which sounds more like a hacking cough) or more seriously collapsed trachea. We have articles on both of these conditions:

Monica Dobbs

Tuesday 1st of January 2019

We took our chihuahua to the vet about a month ago for blood in his urine. The vet prescribed him some antibiotics for 10 days and it cleared up. Just got up this morning (about a week and a half after his meds were done), and found blood on his potty pad again. Being that it's the 1st of the year, they are closed and I will be calling first thing in the morning. There was no urine test done when we took him in, so maybe it was the wrong kind of medication? Maybe it wasnt enough to clear it completely? Kidney or Bladder stones? Im just sick with worry. =( As horrible as it sounds, he likes to eat his poop. Can that cause UTI's? I sent a photo of the babies watching TV with Mom. =) The one in question is the black and white one.


Tuesday 1st of January 2019

I'm not a doctor so take anything I say with a grain of salt but it could be stones, a UTI or the start of kidney or bladder cancer. I'm praying it's something minor that can be easily cured. Keep us updated Monica!