Lung tumours in dogs

Julia Dicconson
Content Manager
September 30, 2021

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. 

Don’t wait until the very end. It’s important to consider your pet’s end-of-life journey early, so that you, your family and your pet are all supported through the process.

When the time comes, we’re here for you. Goodbye Good Boy provides a range of end-of-life services to make the difficult process of saying goodbye a little easier. 

We offer quality of life assessments from qualified vets, specialist grief counselling, at home euthanasia from dedicated end of life veterinarians, as well as cremation services and memorial options to help remember your pet for their unique character.

We are with you at every step of the journey.

To find out more, you can call our team of passionate pet lovers on 1800 953 619.

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