Veterinarians and veterinary oncologists provide diagnoses and care for cats and dogs with cancer, and support for the people who love them. In today's post, our Fremont vets explain some of the symptoms and treatments for lung cancer in dogs.
Lung Cancer in Dogs
Lung cancer is most commonly found in senior dogs (10-12 years old), and recently, there has been an increase in the number of cases of lung cancer in dogs being diagnosed by veterinarians. This larger number of cases is likely due to the fact that our dogs are now living much longer than they ever have.
Other possible reasons for the increase in cases could be improvements in diagnostics and awareness of the disease, in addition to increased exposure to cancer-causing agents in the environment.
Although exposure to cigarette smoke has been linked to this condition, it appears that some breeds are more likely to develop lung cancer than others. Some of the breeds at increased risk include Boxers, Doberman Pinschers, Australian shepherds, and Bernese mountain dogs.
Types Of Lung Cancers In Dogs
- Primary lung tumors are tumors that develop in the dog's lung. While these are rare in dogs they have an over 80% chance of being cancerous. Sadly, these tumors have a moderate to high chance of metastasizing (spreading to other parts of the dog's body) in areas like the lymph nodes, lining of the chest cavity, bones and brain.
- Metastatic lung tumors are cancerous tumors that originate elsewhere in the dog's body before spreading to the lungs.
Symptoms Of Lung Cancer In Dogs
Without diagnostic testing, it can be challenging to identify lung cancer in dogs. It is estimated that 25% of dogs with lung tumors show no related signs of cancer. When symptoms do become evident they can include any of the following, depending on the size and location of the tumor:
- Rapid breathing/wheezing
- Weight loss
- Labored breathing
- Hair loss
- Loss of appetite
- Reduced exercise tolerance
- Gastrointestinal ulcers
Primary lung cancer and metastatic lung cancer both have similar symptoms although coughing tends to be less common with metastatic tumors.
Diagnosing Dog Lung Cancer
Because a large percentage of dogs show no signs of lung cancer, tumors are often detected when the dog has an x-ray or other diagnostic testing due to an unrelated condition.
If you've noticed that your dog is displaying signs of lung cancer, contact our Fremont vets to book an examination for your dog.
The primary way that vets confirm a diagnosis of lung cancer in dogs is through a chest x-ray. If the x-ray shows signs of a lung tumor, an ultrasound-guided aspirate or biopsy, abdominal ultrasound or CT scan may be the next steps in the diagnostic process.
Once the diagnosis has been confirmed, further testing may be helpful in determining the extent of cancer in your pup's body.
Treatment of Lung Cancer in Dogs
In some cases, surgery to remove the portion of the lung where the tumor is located can be successful. Most dogs tolerate this surgery well and can be released soon after the procedure. However, if your dog's tumor cannot be surgically removed, or the cancer has spread, chemotherapy and/or radiation may be the recommended treatment option.
Prognosis (Life Expectancy) For Dogs With Lung Cancer
Unfortunately, the prognosis is poor for dogs diagnosed with lung cancer. A dog diagnosed and treated for a single primary lung tumor that has not spread to the lymph nodes has an average survival time of about 12 months, but if the dog's lymph nodes also show signs of cancer or if multiple tumors are found life expectancy is only about 2 months. Your veterinarian or vet team will be able to help you choose the best treatment options for your dog based on their diagnosis.Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.