Lung tumours in dogs

A lung tumour is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the lungs. Primary tumours that originate in the lungs are rare in dogs but can be highly malignant, with the potential to spread to other body parts. 

Secondary tumours are more common and occur when a cancer that originated in another part of the body spreads to the lungs.

Up to 25% of dogs with lung tumours may show no early signs, or mimic bronchitis or heart failure.

What are common lung tumour signs in dogs?

Early signs include:

  • Lethargy
  • Exercise intolerance

Intermediate to advanced signs include: 

  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Difficulty breathing

Some dogs may not show any respiratory signs, however.

Laboured breathing can be a sign of lung tumour in dogs

How are lung tumours managed in dogs?  

Management depends on whether the lung tumour is primary or secondary. For primary lung tumours, surgically removing the portion of the affected lung is often recommended. Chemotherapy or radiation therapy can be added, or used by themselves if surgery is not an option. 

For secondary lung tumours, chemotherapy is the primary treatment. Discussing a personalised management plan with your veterinarian and a veterinary oncologist is important for the best outcome for your dog.

What is the prognosis for dogs with lung tumours?

The prognosis depends on the tumour type and your dog’s treatment response. With the successful surgical removal of a primary tumour and no sign of metastasis, the median survival times are 12 to 16 months. However, if a primary tumour has metastasised, the median survival time may be only two months. Unfortunately, secondary lung tumours also have a poor prognosis because of the dog’s late cancer stage.

Management tips for dogs with lung tumours

At-home needs include:

  • Easy access to food and water, and a comfortable location
  • Consistency with prescribed medications or supplements
  • Monitoring respiratory rate and effort, gum colour, appetite and energy level
  • Avoiding strenuous exercise, if directed by your veterinarian
  • Room purifiers and no indoor smoking

For end-of-life care:

In a crisis:

Immediately contact your vet if your dog is having trouble breathing, has blue gums or tongue, cannot walk, collapses, or vocalises in pain.

It is vital to begin end-of-life care discussions before your dog‘s condition becomes unmanageable or they begin losing their quality of life. 

The team at Goodbye Good Boy offers individualised support to help you and your family navigate this difficult time by providing quality-of-life checks, in-home euthanasia, cremation and aftercare services and personalised memorialisation options. Our services can even be pre-paid to help ease the financial burden at the time of your pet’s passing. 

To learn more about our pet end-of-life services, give us a call on 1800 953 619 or visit our website

This article was reproduced with permission from Goodbye Good Boy advisor Dr Dani McVety, of Lap Of Love.