Stomach Cancer in Dogs

There are seven reported forms of stomach cancer in dogs. They include:

  • Adenocarcinoma: Most common form of stomach cancer in dogs. The cancer forms in glandular tissue and spreads to the stomach and other organs.
  • Extramedullary Plasmacytoma: Tumors in plasma cells found near the bone marrow cavity that can spread to other areas of the body, usually the lips, ears and face, but on a rare occasion will reach stomach tissue.
  • Fibrosarcoma: Malignant tumors that generally form in connective tissue. Most commonly associated with tumors of the skin following vaccinations.
  • Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor: Cancerous tumor of the gastrointestinal tract that is usually caused by gene mutations.
  • Leiomyosarcoma: Malignant tumors that can form anywhere in the body. They spread to other areas of the body quickly, particularly the liver and lymph nodes.
  • Lymphoma: Cancer that forms in the white blood cells and then build up in body tissue like the gastrointestinal tract, bones, bladder, heart and nasal cavity.
  • Mast Cell Tumor: Cells found in the skin, lungs and digestive tract. Tumors occur when the cells become abnormal and frequently spread to the lymph nodes, liver and spleen.

Adenocarcinoma cells spread to other areas of the body in a short time. It's important to know the symptoms of this and the other forms of stomach cancer. Seeking treatment early is one of the best ways to help manage the pain and other symptoms that occur.

Statistics for Stomach Cancer in Dogs

Stomach cancer is not overly common. Statistics find that only one percent of cancer cases in dogs are stomach cancer.

Those dogs who are affected tend to be males at least eight years of age. Survival rates for dogs with stomach cancer are not high. Most dogs survive less than a year after the initial diagnosis. While the stomach tumors might be fought successfully, most stomach cancers quickly spread to the lymph nodes and other organs.

Symptoms of Stomach Cancer in Dogs

The key symptom with any stomach cancer is vomiting. In some cases, the dog will vomit up blood, so it's important to seek emergency veterinary care.

Pain is also prevalent. It's often hard to tell if your dog is in pain, so watch for:

  • Growling, snapping or whining, especially when touched
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy and weakness
  • Refusal to get up or join in activities

You should also watch for:

  • Excessive grooming of areas of the body, particularly the abdomen
  • Rapid breathing
  • Urination or defecating indoors
  • Weight loss

Treatments for Stomach Cancer in Dogs

The diagnosis of stomach cancer is made through X-rays or ultrasounds. Blood tests and biopsies will confirm the presence of cancer and often the type of tumor.

Surgical removal of the tumors is advised in cases where the tumor doesn't seem to have spread. Removal of the tumor helps restore the proper flow of food in and out of the stomach cavity. Chemotherapy and radiation are rarely used.

Dietary Measures for a Dog with Stomach Cancer

Dogs with cancer lose a large amount of their body weight in a short time. Therefore, a dog's diet is important to keep his immune system functioning properly. Foods rich in quality protein, antioxidants and limited sugars from carbohydrates are recommended.