Liver Cancer In Dogs, Diagnosis, Causes And Treatment

Today, our discussion is centered on Liver Cancer in Dogs. The liver is a large organ located in the abdomen having several parts known as called lobes. The function of the liver is to cleanse the blood and as well aid digestion by secreting bile.

The major cause of liver cancer in dogs is yet to be known up to date, however, there is ongoing research to prove the major causes of this disease.

The liver is subjected to several diseases among which is liver cancer, described as an abnormal proliferation and dysregulated replication of cells within the liver. There are Symptoms of liver cancer in dogs which will be discussed later. For more information, continue to read through to the end.

Liver Cancer In Dogs, Diagnosis, Causes, And Treatment

common signs of Liver Cancer in Dogs
common signs of Liver Cancer in Dogs

Liver Cancer in Dogs occurs when the liver tumour has changed from benign to malignant (cancerous, invasive, and can metastasize). Liver cancers in dogs affect both sexes and can occur at any age but older dogs are at higher risk. Also, the Dog Breeds Prone to Liver Disease cut across a majority of them.

Malignant tumours often metastasize (spread to other body sites) and that is the case of most liver tumours in dogs, while in cats, most are benign.

Types Of Liver Cancer In Dogs.

There are several types of liver cancer in dogs. The most common of them all is Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). This type of cancer in dogs can present in three ways. These are:

  • Diffuse: Cancer that occurs throughout the entire liver.
  • Nodular: Spread of several masses throughout the liver.
  • Massive: This is a single large tumour in the liver.

Other Types of Liver Cancer in Dogs include bile duct carcinomas and neuroendocrine tumours. Not forgetting other sarcomas, such as hemangiosarcoma, fibrosarcoma, and leiomyosarcoma, among others.

Causes Of Liver Cancer In Dogs.

Having observed the health changes as well as behavioral changes in your dog which are mostly the symptoms of liver cancer in dogs, you might be wondering what the cause of this disease-causing your dog to suffer this much.

There are several ongoing types of research to find the cause of canine liver carcinoma, but there is yet to be an appropriate known cause.

Signs And Symptoms Of Liver Cancer In Dogs.

symptoms of Liver Cancer in Dogs
symptoms of Liver Cancer in Dogs

It is often terrifying news to hear that your pet is diagnosed with liver cancer especially when all the Symptoms of liver cancer in dogs are glaring. Anyways, it cannot all be bad news depending on the type of liver cancer your dog has.

Most time, it is difficult to detect early the signs of liver cancer in dogs because dogs are often asymptomatic in the early stages of the disease. By the time symptoms become evident and detectable, the disease must have fairly progressed.

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Therefore, some of the most common symptoms of liver cancer in dogs include weight loss, jaundice, loss of appetite and weight loss, fever, lethargy, weakness, excessive thirst, increased urination, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Nonetheless, in some cases, veterinarians can spot the signs of liver dysfunctions and abnormalities such as unusual bloodwork results, liver enlargement or abdominal pain on palpation, during routine wellness examinations before symptoms even appear.

Diagnosis Of Liver Cancer In Dogs.

Pet owners must monitor closely their pets especially by a licensed veterinarian to keep your dog as healthy as possible for as long as possible. Liver Cancer in Dogs can be accurately diagnosed through laboratory tests. This will help identify signs of liver dysfunction.

#1. Blood and Fluid Analysis.

Blood and fluid such as urine are collected to run laboratory tests. Complete blood count, chemical blood profile, coagulation profile, and urinalysis are carried out to identify any liver disease or dysfunction. Also, the test will help detect the presence of liver carcinoma in your dog.

#2. Abdominal X-rays and Ultrasound Scan.

An abdominal X-ray is described as a radiographic examination while abdominal ultrasound is a sonographic examination. Results of both examinations can show evidence of liver cancer if your dog has developed the disease. Also, it is helpful to detect localize the tumour.

#3. Biopsy.

In the case that cancer has metastasized, a hepatic biopsy may be needed. This will help your veterinarian to make a conclusive diagnosis. A hepatic biopsy is done by collecting samples surgically removing the liver tissue for laboratory analysis.  Also, a needle can be inserted into the liver to remove a sample of fluid. Likewise, during surgery, a small portion of the liver tissue is removed. These samples are taken to the lab and tested for cancer cells.

#4. Chest X-rays.

Chest x-ray imaging is important especially when the primary tumour has metastasized. It is helpful to check for metastasis into the lungs. Results of Chest x-rays obtained will further enhance decision for chemotherapy or radiation therapy which will help to eradicate other conditions

#5. CT / MRI.

Computed Tomography (CT) scan or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) are advanced imaging that is used to diagnose liver cancer in cats.

Treatment Of Liver Cancer In Dogs.

When your dog is diagnosed with liver carcinoma, it is not a death sentence and there are tendencies that your dog will eventually become fine and get rid of the disease. Fortunately, due to intense research over the years, there are more treatments available for liver cancer in dogs presently.

Surgical removal of the hepatic tumour is highly recommended, when possible. Most time, it is successful especially when the tumour is a discrete mass that’s confined to one section of the liver and it has not yet become malignant and spread to other body areas.

On the other hand, systemic chemotherapy is required for nodular and diffuse forms of the liver tumour because they must have become malignant and metastasize to other areas of the body. Also, chemotherapy goes along with other treatments such as surgery or radiation therapy.

Life Expectancy Of Dogs With Liver Cancer.

Pet owners should be very conscious of any changes in health issues in their dogs. That is why Symptoms of liver cancer in dogs have been discussed above.

In the case whereby your dog has a single mass that can be surgically removed completely, it has a good chance to live for another four years or more.

Nonetheless, if your dog test positive for liver cancer, the average life expectancy for dogs with liver cancer is about six months. Especially if your dog is not liable for the surgical procedure due to the site, or degree of the disease.

Also, even if surgery is performed and it is partially successful, the life expectancy of a dog can reach a little over a year.

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How To Prevent Dogs From Liver Cancer.

There are different ways to prevent Liver Cancer in Dogs, however, none of them is 100%. The steps you can take to prevent your dog from liver cancer include but are not limited to:

  1. Vaccinating your dog against liver cancer
  2. Spray or neuter your Dog against liver cancer.
  3. Feed your dog with a healthy diet.
  4. Avoid Toxins
  5. Limit injections
  6. Keep a close watch on any health changes in your dog.

The Cost Of Treating Liver Cancer In Dogs.

The possible treatment options come to mind when your pet is diagnosed with cancer. However, there is a need to also consider treatment costs. Unfortunately, the cost of cancer treatment for pets is not cheap. On average, cancer treatment can cost $10,000 and more. These costs are often spread out and it covers from initial diagnosis, mass removal or chemotherapy, to follow-up blood work, x-rays, and medication.

Dog Breeds Prone To Liver Disease.

I know you are interested to find out which Dog Breeds are Prone to Liver Disease. In the case of liver cancer in dogs, there are no breed predispositions, but affected dogs are mostly on average, older than 10 years of age.

Also, from what we know, several dog breeds are predisposed to this liver condition, including

  • Bedlington Terriers.
  • Cocker Spaniels.
  • Chihuahuas.
  • Doberman Pinschers.
  • Labrador Retrievers.
  • Skye Terriers.
  • Standard Poodles.
  • Springer Spaniels.
  • Maltese.
  • West Highland White Terriers.

In addition to Dog Breeds Prone to Liver Disease, older dogs are commonly diagnosed with liver cancer, but this disease can be seen in younger dogs as well.

FAQ Section.

Following are the questions that are relative and related to Liver Cancer in Dogs, we have carefully selected and we have done justice to them.

How Long Does A Dog Live With Liver Cancer?

Dogs with liver cancer have a six-month life expectancy if they are not surgical candidates. Even if the surgery is only partially successful, the patient’s life expectancy can be extended by a year or more. Your veterinarian can keep an eye on your dog to ensure that he stays as healthy as possible for as long as possible.

What Are The Symptoms Of A Dog Dying From Liver Failure?

What are the signs that your dog is dying of liver failure? Before the liver begins to fail, 80% of the cells in the liver must die. Jaundice, hepatic encephalopathy, ascites, spontaneous bleeding, and dependent edema-swollen lower limbs are all symptoms of liver failure in dogs.

How Long Can A Dog Live After Being Diagnosed With Cancer?

Without treatment, the typical duration from diagnosis to death is roughly two months. Chemotherapy can extend this (in some cases for 12 months or even longer), but not all lymphomas respond well.

Do Diabetic Dogs Sleep A Lot?

Is it true that diabetic dogs snooze a lot? The dog will appear fatigued and unresponsive even if the blood glucose level is only slightly low. You may get little or no response when you call your dog. The blood glucose level will rise in a few hours, and your dog will be back to normal. This vital symptom is easily overlooked because many dogs sleep a lot during the day.

What Are The Final Stages Of Liver Cancer?

Weakness and tiredness are getting worse. A strong need to sleep for long periods of time, often spending the majority of the day in bed or sleeping. Weight loss and thinning or loss of muscle. There is little or no appetite, and swallowing or consuming fluids is difficult.

What Causes Cancer Of The Liver In Dogs?

Canine liver carcinoma is caused by a variety of factors. Only a small percentage of tumors and malignancies have a single identified etiology. The majority appear to be caused by a complicated combination of risk factors, some of which are environmental in nature and others which are genetic or hereditary. There is currently no known cause for primary liver tumors. They are more common in elderly pets (i.e., those greater than 9 years old).

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What Happens When a Dog Dies Of Liver Cancer?

Lethargy and inappetence. Being unable to defecate or urinate, or being able to urinate and defecate yet unable to move away from the mess. Unable to sleep due to restlessness. Vocalizations or moans that are unusual or unexplainable.

Are Dogs With Liver Cancer In Pain?

Is it true that dogs with liver cancer are in pain? During an examination, your veterinarian may be able to spot abnormalities in your dog’s liver. Palpable liver enlargement or abdominal pain could indicate liver disease, such as liver cancer, and blood tests can reveal liver abnormalities, leading to a cancer suspicion.

Can You Treat Liver Cancer In Dogs?

The most successful treatment for liver cancer in dogs is surgery to remove the tumor. Dogs with large liver tumors that are surgically removed have an excellent prognosis and can live for years after therapy.

What Should I Feed My Dog With Liver Cancer?

What should I feed my liver-cancer-stricken dog? Dogs with liver problems often do exceptionally well on a low-protein, high-fat diet. Including as many Omega 3 fat sources as possible, like fish oil and flaxseed oil, is an excellent approach to provide your dog with the healthy fats his body needs and can handle.

How Can I Feed My Dog With Liver Cancer?

Feeding tubes are the most effective technique to feed dogs with cancer cachexia who are unable to eat on their own. The feeding tubes are generally well tolerated by dogs, and they make feeding and providing medications a breeze. Feeding tubes also aid in the correct functioning of the digestive tract.

What Toxins Cause Liver Cancer In Dogs?

What pollutants induce cancer in dogs’ livers? Xylitol and paracetamol are two frequent drugs in dogs that can induce liver damage. Compounds produced by blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) and mushrooms can harm the liver. Some plants, particularly cycads, can cause liver failure in dogs when consumed in large quantities.

What Foods Are Bad For Dogs’ Liver?

Xylitol is used to sweeten candy, gum, toothpaste, baked goods, and some diet meals. It can cause a reduction in your dog’s blood sugar as well as liver failure.

What Are The Symptoms Of Liver Cancer In Dogs?

Xylitol is used to sweeten candy, gum, toothpaste, baked goods, and some diet meals. It can cause a reduction in your dog’s blood sugar as well as liver failure.

What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Canine Liver Cancer?

  • Lethargy is a common symptom of liver cancer in dogs.
  • Vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Fever.
  • Urination has increased.
  • Excessive thirst is a condition in which a person is constantly thirsty.
  • Appetite loss and weight loss
  • Jaundice is a type of jaundice that occurs (yellowing of skin, eyes, and gums)
  • What are the signs that your dog is dying of liver failure?

Before the liver begins to fail, 80% of the cells in the liver must die. Jaundice, hepatic encephalopathy, ascites, spontaneous bleeding, and dependent edema-swollen lower limbs are all symptoms of liver failure in dogs.

What Are The Final Stages Of Liver Failure In Dogs?

The end-stage liver illness causes vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, weight loss, bleeding tendencies, jaundice (yellow skin and eyes), behavioural abnormalities, and, in severe cases, seizures in dogs.

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I believe you enjoyed reading through our discussion on Liver Cancer in Dogs. Also, you were able to learn something new in the process. Especially learning about the signs and symptoms, cause of the disease, treatment, and life expectancy of dogs suffering from the disease.

It is important that pet owners pay close attention and be observant of any health changes in their pet and quickly request the immediate intervention of a vet doctor.

Author: David Arthur

David's lifelong passion for animals blossomed into a dream profession in 2020. He founded Petscareway Inc., a professional pet care company situated in the Texas. Several veterinarians have educated him in Pet First Aid and CPR since 2003. David decided to become a certified Pet First Aid and CPR instructor in 2011 after completing an instructor training course. David decided he had to be a part of ProPetHero when he discovered them in 2016 and saw how they were offering ER veterinarian-led training to everyone. As a result, he became a member of the ProTrainings family, the designers of ProPetHero. He volunteers and fosters for The Boxer Rescue Inc in his spare time, is a health-conscious Boxer breeder, and is a member of the Middlesex Boxer Club and Wachusett Kennel Club. David has served as a mentor to many people in the pet industry and in the small company world. When he's not working or helping, he's competing with his dogs in agility, lure coursing, and conformation trials across the country. David can be seen training with his puppies, hiking with them on trails, or playing in his backyard when he is not at a trial or trying to find a nice home for a Boxer through the rescue.

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