Diagnosing Lung Cancer in Dogs

Lung cancer in dogs has symptoms and treatments similar to human lung cancer. However, diagnosing lung cancer in dogs can be a little more difficult due to the fact that most dogs will try to mask their poor health because of their basic survival instinct. Tumors dogs develop are not necessarily cancerous, but there are signs and symptoms to look for that can help you determine if you dog may have lung cancer so that you can try to get an accurate diagnosis.

Canine Cancer Symptoms

There are many common canine cancer symptoms that can be associated with lung cancer. Chronic coughing is often a symptom of canine lung cancer. If your dog is coughing often and the cough is not producing anything, you should have him checked out. In addition to coughing, your dog may show signs of labored breathing, lethargy and loss of appetite, and your dog may begin to lose weight.

Looking for Tumors

Dogs that have a tumor and are also displaying the symptoms of lung cancer may have metastatic lung cancer. Metastatic lung cancer starts with a tumor elsewhere on the body, which metastasizes to the lungs via the bloodstream. Once the cancer cells reached the lungs they began to form tumors there. While you wouldn't be able to see the lung tumors by looking at your dog, you would most likely be able to see other tumors that could help you veterinarian determine if your dog has cancer.

Official Diagnosis of Dog Lung Cancer

If your dog is displaying the symptoms of canine lung cancer you should take him to the veterinarian. Usually a simple x-ray procedure will allow your veterinarian to give you an accurate diagnosis as to whether or not your dog is suffering from canine lung cancer. Using the x-ray, your veterinarian will look for fluid in the chest cavity, will look to see if there are any tumors and will try to determine the size of any tumors he sees. If your veterinarian suspects a tumor based on the x-rays, he will have to do a needle biopsy of your dogs lungs and then review the cells under a microscope to confirm or deny their suspicions.

Only Vet Can Diagnose and Treat the Lung Cancer

Only your veterinarian can officially diagnose lung cancer in your dog. However, if you can provide your veterinarian with the list of symptoms you have noticed, and a timeline of when you began to notice them, your veterinarian can make a better determination of treatment, should lung cancer be the diagnoses. Lung cancer is treatable if detected at an early stage, but usually by the time the symptoms have developed the cancer has spread. Most veterinarians will offer options to keep your dog comfortable for as long as possible rather than treat the cancer itself through radiation, surgery or chemotherapy.