Kidney tumors in dogs

Updated November 21, 2016

Kidney tumours in dogs often come with a grim prognosis. Although according to Oncolink Vet, primary kidney tumours are rare, they also are usually malignant. It is important to be aware of what is normal for your dog's body and disposition and seek immediate veterinary examination upon notice of any change.


Primary cancer of the kidney is a cancerous tumour originating in the kidney. There is no definitive cause. Secondary cancer of the kidney is a cancerous tumour that originated in another organ of the body and metastasised to the kidney. Secondary cancer of the kidney is more prevalent than primary kidney tumours. Hereditary kidney cancer, known as renal cystadenocarcinoma, is found mainly in the German shepherd breed. It is characterised by extensive cyst formation.


Unfortunately, symptoms usually do not present until the latter stages of the disease. The symptoms include abdominal distension, blood in urine, anaemia, depression, lack of energy and loss of appetite. Additionally, dogs with hereditary kidney cancer often display multiple nodules over the face, head and body.


Initial supposition is obtained through observation of symptoms. Definitive diagnosis is reached by a combination of blood chemistry, blood count, urinalysis, chest and abdominal X-rays, ultrasound of the kidneys, intravenous pyelogram, exploratory surgery and biopsy.


Treatment depends upon the type of cancer. Tumours originating in the kidney can be treated by surgical removal of the tumour. If only one kidney is involved, the affected kidney can be removed. It is important to determine the functionality of the good kidney before removal of the diseased one. Chemotherapy and radiation, either together or individually, may be advised. Treatment for secondary tumours that have metastasised from another area of the body will be focused on therapies specific to the particular cancer involved.

Ongoing Care

A dog with cancerous tumours of the kidney needs ongoing care after the initial treatment. Long-term prognosis is not good for dogs with cancerous kidney tumours, but quality proactive care can help to prolong as well as improve the quality of life. Frequent scheduled appointments with both your regular veterinarian and veterinary oncologist are necessary. They will usually administer blood tests and chest X-rays to monitor for any signs of metastasis. Abdominal ultrasounds may be requested on a periodic basis, to check for abnormalities. Your veterinary oncologist may refer you to a holistic veterinary practitioner. Holistic vets can administer treatments such as acupuncture, massage therapy and chiropractic, believed to aid in healing and relieving stress related to the disease. Nutritional supplements and vitamin therapies are also frequently used.

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