Liver Tumor in Dogs: Symptoms, Types & Treatment Options

As in humans, cancer is one of the increasingly diagnosed diseases in dogs and other animals. This is because medicine now has many ways of detecting cancer, such as blood counts, ultrasound, X-rays, or tissue samples.

While dog owners can feel some types of tumors with their hands, tumors in organs such as the liver, in particular, can only be detected by closely observing specific symptoms.

Liver tumors in dogs or other tumors of the internal organs are often only recognized when they are in an advanced stage since the first symptoms of the disease are rather unspecific. If your dog has diarrhea, vomits, or has no appetite, as a pet owner, you probably don’t immediately think of cancer. However, if such symptoms persist for a longer period of time, this can indicate a serious illness. Do not hesitate and rather take your four-legged friend to the vet once too often. Basically, it can be said that cancer in dogs has better chances of recovery the earlier they are detected.

What are the symptoms of liver tumors in dogs?

If your dog is suffering from a liver tumor, this will manifest itself in the early stages by signs such as nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting, increased drinking, or higher urination. These symptoms also show up in other, more harmless conditions, but they’re definitely a reason to visit the vet and have your dog checked out thoroughly.

As the disease progresses, a dog with a liver tumor will show clearer symptoms that indicate liver disease: yellowing of the mucous membranes, stomach cramps, and fluid in the abdominal cavity. With an ultrasound examination, the veterinarian can then precisely diagnose the tumor(s). Altered blood values ​​such as a higher number of liver enzymes can also provide clues. The evaluation of a tissue sample reveals whether the tumor is malignant or non-cancerous (benign).

What types of tumors are there in dogs?

A basic distinction is made between primary and secondary tumors. A primary tumor is a tissue change that originates in the liver or bile. A secondary tumor is a metastasis from cancer that has affected another organ and whose degenerated cells have migrated through the blood to the liver, for example. The liver is also often affected by blood cancer such as malignant lymphoma.

Primary tumors are much less common in the liver than secondary tumors. Primary tumors occur most frequently in dogs, affecting a single lobe of the liver and, depending on the location, can easily be surgically removed. If your dog has a secondary tumor, your vet will first attempt to locate and treat the primary tumor.

What should I do if my dog ​​has a liver tumor?

If your vet suspects your pet has a liver tumor,
you should try to remain calm and await any necessary tests. The vet you trust will explain to you exactly where the tumor is located, whether it is a primary tumor or metastases. He will then explain the possible treatment methods to you.

Benign liver tumors that only grow slowly do not always have to be removed. Your dog may be able to live relatively unimpaired for many years to come. Primary tumors are usually surgically removed in otherwise healthy, younger animals. If there are metastases from cancer in another organ, the original disease is treated if possible.

What to do if surgery on your dog is not possible?

In such cases, the veterinarian or veterinary clinic can treat cancer with radiation or chemotherapy. Since cancer therapy in dogs is less about complete healing and more about maintaining a high quality of life over a long period of time, the side effects of these therapies are not as pronounced as in humans.

If you change your dog’s diet and go on a liver diet if your dog has a liver tumor, you will optimally support the veterinary measures. 

Liver tumor in dogs: Think of your animal first

As bad as the diagnosis of cancer in the beloved animal is: Depending on the severity of the disease, there are many ways to treat your dog in such a way that it can live with a good quality of life for a long time or is even cured.

When choosing treatment, such as surgery or chemotherapy, you should always consider the welfare of the animal first. With an older dog, carefully consider whether surgery or radiation therapy makes sense or is too stressful for the animal.

Depending on the prognosis, it may also be the right decision to change the animal’s diet and, if necessary, to give it medication to relieve the symptoms. Then make him as nice as possible for the rest of the time. This is especially worth considering if you can probably only extend the life of your beloved four-legged friend by a few months with therapy.

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