Adrenal Tumors in Dogs

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Tumors in dogs may be located in various areas of the body. Adrenal tumors grow in the area of the adrenal glands and will typically interfere with the normal function of these glands, regardless if the tumors are benign or malignant. Both types of tumors should be removed, if possible and if the dog has a malignant tumor, a treatment with chemo drugs will also be recommended.

Causes of Adrenal Tumors in Dogs

The causes of adrenal tumor growth are not fully understood. Some theories claim that the tumors are inherited and some dog breeds are more likely to develop these tumors, while others may associate the tumors with the dog’s lifestyle and environment.

If the causes of adrenal tumors are understood, there will be additional treatment options and a better prognosis, especially if the tumor is malignant.

Symptoms of Dog Adrenal Tumors

When the adrenal glands are affected by tumors, these may either show signs of hypo or hyperactivity of the adrenal gland. The symptoms may include:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Agitation
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination frequency
  • Pale urine
  • Weight gain
  • Pot bellied appearance
  • Lethargy
  • Exercise resistance
  • Hair loss
  • Changes in the quality of skin

Some dogs may have no symptoms at all, especially while the tumor is small.

An adrenal tumor may lead to Cushing’s disease, which is an excess of cortisol in the system.

Diagnosing Dog Tumors

The diagnosis of adrenal tumors will be made in several stages. The vet will examine the dog and establish if there are any physical changes and symptoms. You should also let your vet know if there are any symptoms that you have noticed in your dog lately.

The vet will have to perform a series of blood tests, x-rays and ultrasounds.

A biopsy of the tumor is also necessary, as this will be the test that will establish the nature of the tumor and the best course of action.

If the tumor is found to be cancerous, the vet will have to establish the stage of the cancer.

Treatment Options For Tumors in Dogs

The treatment may vary according to whether the tumor is benign or malignant.

If the tumor is benign, it should be removed and the dog should be monitored for any signs of Cushing’s disease. However, if the tumor is small and doesn’t cause hypo or hyperactivity of the adrenal gland, the vet may decide to postpone the surgery. Benign tumors are unlikely to grow and won’t cause damage in the dog’s body.

If the tumor is malignant, surgery is also recommended, but it’s only possible if the cancer is detected in stages 1 to 3. The tumor may easily spread to the kidneys or the lungs and may be fatal if left untreated.

If the surgery is possible and successful, the dog should be placed under chemotherapy, which can stop the multiplication of the malignant cells and possibly prevent the recurrence of new tumors.


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