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Kidney Cancer In Dogs

Kidney Cancer In Dogs

Kidney cancer also called renal cancer is typically one of those diseases that never give owners any forewarning that things are going to get quite awful for their dogs. Dogs that have kidney cancer should be diagnosed properly as they can be misdiagnosed as a urinary tract infection or kidney infection.

Your dog's urinary tract has kidneys, ureters, urinary bladder, and urethra. The kidneys and their nearby tissues can develop cancers, including primary cancers that develop within the kidney or secondary cancers that travel metastasize from other organs and affect the kidney (metastatic).

Primary Kidney tumors are usually limited to one kidney and their occurrence is rare accounting for less than 2% of all dogs.

Usually, dogs with kidney cancer may live 1-6 months without treatment, and the median survival time improves to 8-16 months with treatment.

Symptoms Of Kidney Cancer

Common symptoms:

  • Difficult/painful urination
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Blood in the urine

Early Stages

  • Frequent urination/ Urinary incontinence
  • Painful urination
  • Discolored/bloody urine
  • Redness or swelling at the penis tip or vulva
  • Licking the penis or vulva
  • Decreased appetite

Later Stages

  • Decreased urine output (occasionally normal)
  • High blood pressure
  • Internal bleeding
  • Low red blood cell count (anemia)
  • Swelling of the hands, feet, and face (edema)
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty sitting and walking
  • Weight loss
  • Constant pacing
  • Painful abdomen
  • Possible constipation
  • Anorexia
  • Vomiting
  • Exercise intolerance

If the kidneys begin to fail, Immediate Veterinary Assistance Needed

  • Extended seizures
  • Profuse bleeding—internal or external
  • Sudden collapse
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Uncontrollable diarrhea/ vomiting
  • Crying/whining from pain

Treatment Options For Kidney Cancer

  • For Canines with kidney tumors, chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy may be suggested.
  • Radiation therapy is given in small amounts over a period of time. Sometimes, Surgery may also be recommended.
  • Complete surgical removal of the tumor becomes difficult due to the location of kidney tumors.
  • In some cases, laser ablation is used to remove part of the tumor (“debulking”) so as to ease your dog's symptoms for some time.
  • However, pet owners need to understand that there is always a possibility of cancer to relapse after some time.

Home Remedies For Kidney Cancer

  • When dietary change gets a good response, that particular diet can be maintained for some time as long as it is balanced.
  • Reintroduce a bland diet that requires minimal digestion for a day or two.
  • Feed cooked white rice and little white meat such as chicken or fish.
  • Offer each meal in small quantities every 3-4 hours - consider 2 tablespoons for small dogs and 3 or 4 tablespoons for larger dogs.
  • When your dog is feeling good, slowly reintroduce its regular food.

Prevention Of Kidney Cancer

  1. Kidney cancer cannot be prevented as hereditary plays a role.
  2. Certain things can be modifiable such as changes you can make in reducing the carcinogenic exposure such as pesticides, secondary smoking, and other chemicals.
  3. Industrial pollution and chemicals (arsenic, plastic, leather, textiles, dyes). Stay away from these carcinogenic risks.
  4. Provide an organic, healthy diet with fruits and vegetables.

Affected Breeds Of Kidney Cancer

Australian Shepherd, Beagle, Border Collie, Lhasa Apso, Parson Russell Terrier, Rat Terrier, Scottish Terrier, Shetland Sheepdog, Wire Fox Terrier, West Highland Terrier, German Shepherd, Middle Age Dogs, Senior Dogs

Additional Facts For Kidney Cancer

1. Causes:

  • Hereditary: renal cystadenocarcinomas (German shepherd)
  • Middle-aged to older dogs

2. Types:

Types of primary kidney tumors:

  • Carcinomas — Most prevalent type of kidney cancer and these malignancies start in the epithelial tissue and skin.
  • Adenocarcinomas — A type of malignant cancer that starts in mucous glands that line inside of organs.
  • Sarcomas — A type of cancer that starts in the muscles, bones, or soft connective tissues.

Metastatic tumors types:

Renal carcinoma: This is the most aggressive and most common type of kidney cancer in dogs. This develops within the kidney has a high metastatic rate and commonly spread to the abdominal organs, local lymph nodes, and/or lungs, but can also be seen in the skeleton, skin, brain, and heart. Das the caudal vena cava is in close proximity to the kidneys, renal carcinoma can infiltrate the vessel and other adjacent veins, forming potentially dangerous blood clots. Medium to large breed and older male dogs are most likely to be affected.

3. Mortality:

Median survival time for dogs:

Stage 1: > 1 year

Stage 2: 200 - 300 days

Stage 3: <100 days

4. Diagnosis:

  • Complete blood count (CBC), blood chemistry profile
  • Electrolyte panel
  • Urinalysis
  • SDMA test: SDMA (a naturally occurring biological indicator for kidney function)
  • IRIS (The International Renal Interest Society) staging system - urine protein: creatinine ratio [UPC)
  • Thoracic radiographs and ultrasound

5. Prognosis:

The stage or severity of kidney cancer determines the prognosis. Remember that tumor-induced chronic renal failure cannot be cured but can be managed with consistent veterinary care. Depending on the cause, many instances of acute renal failure can be reversed with prompt treatment. Survival time gets reduced when your dog progresses through every stage of renal failure.

When To See A Vet

Contact your vet right away, if you notice any of the following:

  • Frequent urination/ Urinary incontinence/ Painful urination
  • Discolored/bloody urine
  • Painful abdomen

Food Suggestions For Kidney Cancer

Things to remember:

  • Reduce the carb intake of your dog.
  • Foods that are often high on their lists for cancer-fighting properties are


    , high-protein, and cruciferous foods.
  • Generally, all ingredients should be fresh, easily digested, highly palatable with a good smell, and should be highly bioavailable.

The ratio would be:

35 to 50 percent protein + less than 25 percent carbs + 25 to 35 percent fat (include omega-3 fatty acids and arginine)

  • Protein: 14-20%, 35 g/1000 kcal of high-quality protein
  • Sodium: ≤ 0.3%
  • Phosphorus: 0.2 - 0.5%
  • Pottasium: 1.1- 2-3%
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: 1 g of EPA and DHA per 1000 kcal of diet = 25 mg/kg of DHA combined with 40 mg/kg EPA q24h


Dogs have the best chance of surviving when kidney cancer is identified before the start (survival rates can be 75 percent). For dogs with kidney cancer, the long-term prognosis is generally poor, regardless of treatment. Dogs can have an improved quality of life for a period of time with proper treatment.

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