Abdominal tumors in dogs

Updated November 21, 2016

Abdominal tumours in dogs are common, according to K911. They can include hemangiosarcoma (a tumour on the spleen), lymphoma, prostate cancer, mast cell tumours, hematoma and nodular hyperplasia. Tumours can be malignant or benign and may involve the intestines, liver, spleen, pancreas, kidneys, bladder, stomach or lymph nodes, according to Pet Place.


Symptoms of an abdominal tumour include abdominal distension, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhoea, weakness, pale gums, loss of appetite, increased heart rate and difficulty breathing. If the condition is advanced, abnormal heart rhythms may occur, as well as fainting and seizures, according to the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS). If the tumour ruptures and the dog has internal bleeding, he may collapse or die suddenly.


Diagnosis of tumours is accomplished with a physical exam, medical history and a variety of tests, according to Pet Place. Tests may include X-rays of the abdomen and chest, ultrasound, blood tests, urinalysis, biopsy and examination of fluid from the abdominal cavity (abdominocentesis). Be prepared to inform your veterinarian about any changes in your dog's diet, behaviour, activity level and elimination habits.


Surgery is necessary to remove an abdominal tumour. For example, in the case of a hemangiosarcoma, a splenectomy (removal of the spleen) is the first step, according to ACVS. A biopsy of the spleen will confirm whether the tumour is malignant or benign. Hematomas and nodular hyperplasia (benign masses or nodules of clotted blood on the spleen) are cured by surgical removal. ACVS reports that two-thirds of masses on the spleen are malignant.


Long-term survival of malignant abdominal tumours is not expected. The cancer usually metastasises and the dog will die. ACVS indicates that in the case of hemangiosarcoma, the rate of survival for one year is less than 10 per cent. Surgical removal usually means a survival of 19 to 86 days. Chemotherapy can extend the dog's life up to 179 days. Other treatments are currently being evaluated.

Home Care

Regardless of the prognosis, follow-up care at home is important, according to Pet Place. Administer your dog's medications as instructed by your veterinarian. Inform the veterinarian of any difficulties in home treatment. Monitor your dog carefully, watching for changes in behaviour, bowel habits, frequency of urination, appetite, thirst and activity level.


ACVS indicates that hemangiosarcoma is common in older dogs, particularly between the ages of 8 and 10 years. Large breeds, such as golden retrievers, Labradors and German shepherds are at a high risk of developing this type of tumour.

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