Symptoms of Lung Cancer in Dogs

Lung cancer in dogs is almost always a secondary cancer, having spread from an initial cancer location into the lungs. Primary lung cancer is commonly carcinoma, a malignant tumor and typically attacks older dogs. Dogs who spend a lot of time breathing second hand smoke are at a higher risk of getting primary lung cancer than those living in a relatively smoke-free environment.

Because lung cancer doesn't typically show any significant symptoms in its early stages, it is frequently not diagnosed until the later stages of cancer.

Symptoms of Canine Lung Cancer

While the majority of canine lung cancer cases do not present symptoms until later in the disease's progression, here are some symptoms that may help you catch the cancer in an earlier stage when treatment is more likely to be effective.

  • Persistent non-productive coughing that lasts for weeks or months at a time is typically the primary symptom that indicates there is a problem.
  • A cough that produces blood indicates that the lung cancer is progressing.
  • Loss of appetite can be caused by the difficulty in breathing.
  • Loss of weight caused by the lack of appetite can indicate the presence of a health issue.
  • Your dog's chest may enlarge due to the tumor present.
  • Your dog may limp as lung tumors have a tendency to metastasize or attach themselves to the inside of the dog's leg.
  • Your dog may be less active due to the greater amount of energy required to breathe when a tumor exists.
  • Your dog may also exhibit a lack of interest in interacting with people or animals that he typically takes joy from.
  • It is very important to remember that canine lung cancer may not show any symptoms until much later in the disease.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Canine Lung Cancer

To identify the existence of a tumor, your veterinary will have to perform x-rays of your dog's chest. The x-rays not only show the presence of a mass, but can allow your veterinarian to rule out other possibilities and to check the size of your dog's heart and the cardiovascular system. If a mass is present, the veterinarian can check for malignancy using a fine needle to retrieve a biopsy sample to test.

Treatment typically includes several paths in order to both remove the tumor and then to strengthen your dog's immune system. If the cancer has not spread, surgery is recommended to remove the tumor. Chemotherapy or radiation may be recommended in order to prevent the cancer from moving to other areas of the body. Because of these procedures, your dog may also require pain medication and dietary supplements to strengthen his immune system.

As with other cancers, the sooner lung cancer is identified and treated, the better the prognosis. The fact that lung cancer usually doesn't present symptoms until the later stages of the cancer, means that your dog may have as few as a couple of months left with you or may have a few more years. By taking your dog for annual exams, catching this disease in its earlier stages is more probable, and treatment can be administered in time to prevent the cancer from advancing.