Causes of Canine Liver Cancer

Canine liver cancer can be fatal to your pet as the liver is one of the most important organs and certainly the biggest organ in his body. The liver has the unique capacity to function normally even when 70 percent of it is damaged. It’s involved in the production of bile, aids in digestion, stores nutrients, and aids in metabolism. It helps to detoxify the body, fights infection and boosts the immune system.

Since carcinogenic and toxic compounds pass through it, the liver is susceptible to primary liver cancer. This primary liver cancer can metastasize to secondary cancer involving other organs.

Canine Liver Cancer

Liver cancer is common in all breeds and ages of dogs and can be of 2 types, namely primary and secondary liver cancer. Primary liver cancer that’s caused by a tumor in the liver isn’t very common, generally occurs in older dogs and very rarely spreads or metastasizes to other parts of the body.

Metastatic liver cancer, also known as secondary liver cancer, originates in other organs and then spreads to the liver. The liver is a prime target of all metastatic cancers that travel through the blood stream and the lymphatic system.

Symptoms of Canine Liver Cancer:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of weight
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Anemia
  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive urination
  • Abdominal pain
  • A large mass in the abdomen
  • Shortness of breath
  • Shallow rapid breathing
  • Pale gums 
  • Jaundice

Causes of Canine Liver Cancer

Primary liver cancer can occur if your pet is exposed to carcinogens in the environment. Commercial dog food is listed as a primary cause of liver cancer as it contains harmful additives, flavors and preservatives. The ingestion of toxic chemicals can also cause liver cancer as the toxins have to pass through the liver during the detoxification process and these can act as carcinogens. Certain pesticides and dyes that contain toxic chemicals can be ingested by your pet if he comes across them.

Poisons in fungi that are found in spoiled food, plants and the flesh of other animals can also act as carcinogens. Another cause of liver cancer in dogs is an existent cancer in another part of your pet’s body. Since the liver has two sources of blood supply- the hepatic artery and the portal vein, the risk of the liver being invaded by cancerous cells from other organs is doubled.

Prevention and Treatment

It’s essential to ensure that your dog’s environment is clean and safe. His food and water should always be fresh and he should only be allowed to eat from clean dishes. He shouldn’t be allowed to eat garbage or spoiled food and shouldn’t be exposed to pesticides or smoke.

Surgery to excise the tumor is possible in primary liver cancer but for secondary liver cancer, chemotherapy is the only option. Since the symptoms of liver cancer are similar to those of other diseases, it’s difficult to detect liver cancer in the early stages. The prognosis is extremely poor if your pet has an advanced stage of liver cancer.

A nutritious diet, recommended doses of chemotherapy and tender loving care can help improve the quality of life for your pet although it wouldn’t necessarily increase his lifespan.