Canine Liver Cancer Life Expectancy

Several factors are associated with canine liver cancer life expectancy such as the location of the cancer, the age of the dog, the type of cancer and how far it has advanced. Other factors that determine life expectancy are whether the cancer has metastasized and the type of treatment option that’s administered to the affected pet.

The Liver and Its Functions

The canine liver is the largest organ and has numerous functions such removal of toxins from the blood, detoxification of the body and the secretion of bile. Besides this, the liver helps in the digestion process and fortifies the immune system to fight infections. The liver is the only organ in the dog’s body that can regenerate damaged cells. Another unusual characteristic of the liver is that it can function normally even though 70 percent of it is damaged by disease. As a result, it’s difficult to diagnose any disease that affects the liver until the disease is well advanced.

Symptoms of Canine Liver Cancer:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of weight
  • Anemia
  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive urination
  • Distended abdomen
  • Abdominal pain
  • Jaundice
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Bleeding problems as the blood fails to clot
  • Seizures
  • Tilting of the head 
  • Going around in circles

Causes of Canine Liver Cancer

The causes of canine liver cancer include exposure to carcinogens such as additives and preservatives in dog food and ingestion of toxins such as harmful chemicals found in pesticides.

Types of Liver Cancer in Dogs

There are 2 types of liver cancer in dogs namely primary and secondary. Primary cancer of the liver is cancer that originates in the liver of the dog. Such cancer might subsequently spread to other parts of the body. Secondary cancer is cancer that has formed in other parts of the body and metastasized to the liver. Primary liver cancer is rarer than secondary liver cancer and is more common in older dogs. Since the liver obtains blood from 2 blood vessels, it is at greater risk of exposure to cancer cells.

Diagnosis of Canine Liver Cancer

Since the symptoms of liver cancer in dogs mimic those of other diseases, diagnosis is generally delayed. By the time the cancer is diagnosed it has grown and spread. Different methods tests that are used to help diagnose the ailment include a:

  • physical exam
  • medical history evaluation
  • urinalysis
  • blood tests
  • chest x-rays
  • ultrasound
  • biopsy of the affected liver tissue

Prognosis and Treatment of Canine Liver Cancer

The prognosis and treatment of canine liver cancer is dependent on the stage at which the cancer is diagnosed, the type of cancer and the health of the dog. If the cancer is a primary in nature, the treatment involves surgical removal of the tumor. In such cases, the prognosis is favorable, especially if the cancer hasn’t metastasized. In cases of secondary cancer, treatment is includes a combination of surgery, radiation or chemotherapy or any of these. The prognosis for secondary cancer is generally not good and is also dependent upon the prognosis of the organ that has been primarily affected by the disease.

Liver cancer in dogs is considered the most aggressive form of cancer. The prognosis is generally one year of life expectancy and depends on the extent to which the liver has been affected by the malignancy. The main aim of treatment should be to provide a nutritional diet to build the immune system of the pet and improve his quality of life.