Dog Lung Cancer Symptoms

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Lung tumors can develop in adult dogs of any gender or breed.
Lung tumors can develop in adult dogs of any gender or breed. (Image: Chalabala/iStock/Getty Images)

Lung cancer is a rare disease in dogs, but it is crippling and potentially fatal when it does occur. Some dogs with lung tumors don't show any signs of sickness at all, but many develop visible symptoms like chronic coughing, weight loss and bodily weakness. Take your pet to a medical professional immediately if he has trouble breathing or shows other indications of illness. Prompt treatment can greatly increase your dog's chances of surviving internal tumors.

Types of Tumors

Primary lung tumors are malignant growths that originate from the lungs. They are rare in canines, accounting for less than 1 percent of reported tumors, according to The Veterinary Cancer Center in Connecticut. Primary tumors have the potential to metastasize to the lymph system and other internal organs, if left untreated. Cancer in other parts of your dog's body can spread to the lungs. These metastatic tumors often result from mammary, oral or bone cancer. Most canine lung cancers are the result of metastasis rather than primary tumors.

Common Symptoms

Labored breathing, frequent coughing and lack of energy are some basic conditions that can be hints of lung cancer. Lung cancer will limit a dog's ability to exercise, so yours may run out of energy quickly after playing or walking. Some dogs with lung disease avoid eating, so they gradually lose weight. These signs may emerge alongside other symptoms if the tumors metastasized from another part of the body. Roughly 25 percent of dogs with primary lung tumors show no obvious visible symptoms at all, so many cases are discovered accidentally during diagnosis for another disorder.

Clinical Diagnosis

Since the visible symptoms of cancer are common to many respiratory disorders, avet will conduct a physical exam, medical scans and possibly a biopsy to make a diagnosis. X-rays and CT scans help him locate potential tumors in your dog's lungs. Additional ultrasounds and abdominal scans are used to search for metastatic tumors in other organs. Your vet may make an incision and conduct a biopsy of the growth to determine whether your pet definitely has cancer.

Treatment Options

Lung cancer is treated with a combination of surgery and chemotherapy, depending on how much it has spread. Dogs whose minor tumors have not spread to the lymph system can have life expectancy of a year or more with surgery alone, according to the website of the University of Florida Small Animal Hospital. But, even with surgery, the prognosis for dogs with metastasized cancer is only about two months. Chemotherapy can delay or prevent cancer from growing, although results vary between patients. Discuss your treatment options with your vet to figure out the best plan for you and your pet if lung cancer is present.

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