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Lung Cancer In Dogs – Adenocarcinoma Symptoms & Treatments

Lung Cancer In Dogs

What Is Lung Cancer In Dogs?

Lung tumors or bronchogenic carcinoma are defined as tumors originating inside the bronchi or in the lung parenchyma. In general, the term “lung cancer” is used to refer to lung adenocarcinoma.

In spite of its low occurrence when compared to other more common malignancies (pancreas, colorectal, esophagus, prostate, etc), lung cancer is one of the leading causes of death in dogs.

The most common form of lung cancer is Adenocarcinoma and it accounts for almost 75 percent of lung cancer diagnoses. There are two types of lung cancer. Primary lung cancers develop within the lungs or secondary cancers that travel metastasize from other organs and affect the lung (metastatic).

Simply, Adenocarcinomas are the cancerous counterparts to adenoma. They are described as malignant neoplasms originating in the glandular tissue that lines the inside of one of the organs. Although rare in dogs, this carcinoma grows rapidly and metastasizes to distant parts and organs of the body.

Similar to other types of cancer, lung cancer usually affects older dogs (> 8 years). There is no gender or breed disposition.

Symptoms Of Lung Cancer In Dogs

  • Acute onset of a nonproductive cough
  • Coughing
  • Breathing difficulties/ nasal whistling
  • Runny nose/Wheezing
  • pyrexia
  • Lethargy
  • Decreased exercise tolerance
  • Ascites
  • Dehydration
  • Weight loss/anorexia/Loss of appetite
  • Bluish skin
  • Frequent regurgitation
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Irritable/ aggressive

Severe cases

  • Dogs try to clear their throat or spit up or gag, often mistaken as vomiting
  • Bronchopneumonia
  • Tachypnea
  • Respiratory distress

Treatment Options For Lung Cancer In Dogs

Discuss the best treatment option with your veterinarian or canine oncologist.


Chemotherapeutic agents, such as streptozocin - nitrosourea alkylating agent

Every 2 to 3 weeks -500 mg/m2

Surgical removal of tumor: The best chance for relief of clinical signs and the best survival times.

Wedge resection: This is done to remove the lung cancer and a small portion of healthy tissue. Segmental resection – A larger segment of the lung is removed.

Lobectomy: Surgery to remove one of the lung's lobes.

  • Broad-spectrum antibiotics: Doxycycline or amoxicillin(Fluoroquinolones, Trimethoprim/sulfa)
  • Severe pneumonia: Ticarcillin in combination with clavulanate
  • Cough suppressants (Balminil, Benylin, Delsym, Robitussin)
  • Endotracheal lavage - Perform the wash through a sterile endotracheal tube for small and toy breeds of dogs

Home Remedies For Lung Cancer In Dogs

  • During their recovery, provide plenty of fresh water near them to help keep them hydrated.
  • It’s good to give a steam treatment by running a hot shower while you are having a hot shower in the bathroom.

How To Prevent Lung Cancer In Dogs?

Prevention is not possible for lung cancer as the causes in dogs is mostly idiopathic. Treatment and survival rates vary depending on the grade and stage of cancer.

Good overall health and early detection are the only ways to prevent adenocarcinoma.

Affected Dog Breeds Of Lung Cancer

There is no breed disposition.

Golden Retriever, Beagle, Boxer, Terrier Dog Breeds, Doberman Pinscher, Australian Shepherd, Bernese Mountain Dog

Causes And Diagnosis For Lung Cancer In Dogs

1. Causes:

  • Genetics/ Idiopathic (unknown origin)
  • Middle to old age (over seven years old)
  • Toxic chemical exposure
  • Secondhand smoke
  • Short or medium-sized nose (i.e. boxers, beagles, terriers)

2. Morbidity:


  • Stage I: Limited to lungs
  • Stage II: Metastasis to regional lymph node
  • Stage III: Metastasis to distant organs

3. Mortality:

Young dogs and immunocompromised dogs have the highest mortality rate (usually it ranges from 1%–5%)

4. Diagnosis:

  • X-rays of the chest and lungs
  • Complete blood count (CBC), Blood culture
  • CT scan
  • Pleural fluid culture

5. Differential diagnosis:

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Heart disease-causing pulmonary edema
  • Lung cancer
  • Cystic fibrosis

6. Prognosis:

Lung cancer is a serious condition that may turn life-threatening depending on its stage and severity. Most dogs recover well if the veterinarian is able to remove the whole tumor and if it has not metastasized. Successful surgery increases the dog’s chances of survival by 50 %. (the dog may live more than a year). Primary pulmonary adenocarcinoma has a high chance of recurrence even if the entire tumor is removed the first time. For dogs with secondary pulmonary adenocarcinoma, the vet oncologist will almost certainly suggest you make the dog living as comfortable as possible.

When To See A Vet For Lung Cancer In Dogs?

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

  • Breathing difficulties/ nasal whistling
  • Frequent regurgitation

Food Suggestions For Lung Cancer In Dogs

  • Fresh, lean protein (White-meat skinless chicken or turkey, Lean ground beef)
  • Plant-based protein sources – Lentils, Chickpeas, potatoes, other Nuts, and Seeds
  • Green vegetables and leafy produce: Beets, Carrots, Kale, Seaweed, Spinach
  • Iron: Lamb meat, Cooked liver( 2 ounces for a smaller dog, 4 ounces for a large dog), Salmon, Tuna, Sardine, Anchovies, etc
  • Vitamin C and bioflavonoids: Brussel sprouts, spinach, broccoli, kale, pineapple, papaya, strawberries, etc


The prognosis is guarded at best due to this malignant neoplasia’s high frequency of metastasis. Metastatic pets survive up to 1 year with a combination of surgery and medical therapy.

However, for dogs in the initial stages, Surgery is recommended as it provides the best-reported survival times (up to 2 years and more).

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