Uterine Cancer in Dogs

Uterine cancer is rarely found in dogs. Most commonly, the tumors that are located in the uterus are benign. When malignant, the tumors can be surgically removed if detected early enough. If the cancer is detected in its late stages, the cancer can be fatal and will metastasize within a few months.

Causes of Uterine Cancer

The causes of uterine cancer are still not entirely understood. However, spayed dogs are less likely to develop uterine cancer, so the causes may be related to the hormonal activity of female dogs. Uterine cancer is more common in dogs over the age of 5.

Symptoms of Uterine Cancer

A dog affected by uterine cancer may not show any symptoms during the first stages of the disease, while the tumor is still small. In time, symptoms may start to occur. You may observe the followings:

  • Discharges from the vagina, are most commonly clear or may also be creamy white and thicker
  • Swelling of the abdomen
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Lack of appetite and weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Painful urination
  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Lethargy
  • Depression

Some of these symptoms may often be seen in dogs with vaginitis or a different type of cancer, so you should visit the vet for a precise diagnosis.

Diagnosing Uterine Cancer in Dogs

Uterine cancer can be diagnosed based on a set of tests, which will be performed after the vet takes a look at the pet and establishes if there are any symptoms that you may have missed. The tests may include:

  • A complete blood count
  • Analysis of the urine
  • X-rays
  • Ultrasounds
  • Biopsy of the cells retrieved from the uterine tumor

At the time of diagnosis, the vet will be also able to tell you the stage of the cancer, which is important when determining the best course of treatment. The uterine cancer may have 4 stages, stage 1 being the least advanced. During the first 2 stages, the tumor is small and will not involve the lymph nodes. Starting from stage 3, the cancer affects the nearby lymph nodes and will also spread to other zones in the dog’s body such as the kidneys, the liver or the stomach. The vet will also establish the type of cancer: uterine cancers in dogs are most commonly adenocarcinomas or leiomyosarcomas.

Treatment Options for Dog Uterine Cancer

The treatment of uterine cancer will involve removing the uterus and possibly the ovaries, which is a procedure similar to the regular spaying of dogs. If the cancer is in the early stages, the removal of the tumor will give high chances of survival. The dog will get cyclophosphamides or chemo drugs, which should prevent the occurrence of new cancer cells. However, the cancer may be recurrent and detected in other areas of the body. The dog will have to be monitored for tumors.

In more advanced stages of cancer, the surgery may not solve the problem and may not be required. The prognosis is poor and the cancer can advance and metastize in the lungs or the lymph nodes.