As we near the end of the month, we would be remiss if we did not point out that November is pet cancer awareness month. While a cancer diagnosis is scary, it’s not a death sentence for your dog or cat, particularly if it’s caught early.

A national provider of specialty vet care points out that cancer symptoms in pets are very similar to those in people. In fact, because cancers in dogs so closely resemble human cancer, there is ongoing research that might benefit both species.

Here are a few of the most common early warning signs of cancer to look for in pets:

Any change in bladder or bowel habits; urinating or defecating more or less frequently.

Unexplained weight loss.

A change in behavior, particularly if your dog or cat becomes more withdrawn than usual.

A lump that appears suddenly or grows rapidly. It’s helpful to take a digital photo of your pet to map out any lumps he or she may have. The picture can help you monitor for any potential

growth in the masses and provides your veterinarian with valuable information.

Lameness or limping that doesn’t resolve with rest.

Any changes to your pet’s eating habits. For example, if a notorious chowhound suddenly shows less interest in dinner, that’s something that should be checked out.

Bad breath or a change in your dog’s bark or your cat’s purr could be an indication of oral masses.

If you notice any of these signs, you should make an appointment with your family veterinarian as soon as possible. Pets ages 7 or older should receive twice-yearly examinations.