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Lung Cancer in Dogs: Symptoms & Treatments

Our board-certified veterinary oncologist provides diagnoses and care for dogs and cats with cancer, and support for the people who love them. In today's post, our Windsor vets list some symptoms and treatments for lung cancer in dogs. 

Lung Cancer in Dogs

Lung cancer is a disease most often found in older dogs around 10 - 12 years of age. In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of cases of lung cancer in dogs being diagnosed by veterinarians, however, the increase may largely be 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, improved diagnostics and awareness of the disease, or possibly increased exposure to cancer-causing agents.

While exposure to cigarette smoke has also 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 Cancer Seen in Dogs

Primary lung tumors are tumors that originate in the dog's lung. While primary lung tumors are rare in dogs, when they do occur, more than 80% are cancerous. Sadly, these tumors have a moderate to high chance of spreading to other parts of the dog's body including the lymph nodes, lining of the chest cavity, bones and brain.

Metastatic lung tumors are tumors that originate from cancer elsewhere in the dog's body then spread to the lungs.

Symptoms of Lung Cancer in Dogs

In the absence of diagnostic testing, it can be challenging to detect lung cancer in dogs. It is estimated that 25% of dogs with a lung tumor 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:

  • Coughing
  • Lethargy
  • Rapid breathing/wheezing
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Labored breathing
  • Lameness
  • Hair loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Reduced exercise tolerance
  • Fever
  • 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 Windsor vets to book an examination for your dog.

Our board-certified veterinary oncologist provides advanced care for pets with cancer (learn more about our oncology services). The primary way that a diagnosis of lung cancer is confirmed 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 are able to return home soon after the procedure. If however your dog's tumor cannot be surgically removed, or if the cancer has spread, chemotherapy and/or radiation may be the recommended treatment option.

Prognosis - Life Expectancy

Sadly the outlook is poor for dog's 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, however, if the dog's lymph nodes also show signs of cancer or if multiple tumors are found life expectancy is only about 2 months.

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.

Is your dog displaying signs or symptoms of lung cancer? Contact our Windsor area vets right away, to book an appointment for your dog. 

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(860) 688-8400