Kidney cancer in dogs symptoms and life expectancy

Kidney cancer in dogsUnfortunately, our beloved four-legged friends are not safe from cancer either, and often fall ill with this disease, especially in old age. In addition to lung, bone and colon cancer, kidney cancer is one of the most common forms and can no longer be cured in advanced stages. What this means for your dog and his life expectancy, you will learn in this article.

What is kidney cancer?

Kidney cancer is caused by malignant tumors that form directly on the kidney or are caused by other tumors in the organism.

Kidney tumors can be divided into primary tumors and metastases, i.e. secondary tumors. While primary tumors form first and foremost on the kidneys, metastases to the kidney originally come from another organ.

The most common primary kidney tumors in dogs are, in descending order: carcinomas, sarcomas and nephroblastomas. They are benign in the rarest cases. Inevitably lead to kidney cancer.

In a clinical study of dogs suffering from kidney cancer, it was found that 49 out of 82 dogs had carcinoma as their primary tumor. In contrast, 28 of the dogs were diagnosed with sarcomas of the kidneys.

Benign kidney tumors are colloquially referred to as benign tumors. They are significantly rarer than malignant (malignant) tumors in the kidney. The percentage of benign tumors is only 20-30%.

Since the symptoms are very unspecific, the cancer is often diagnosed only at an advanced stage. By the time this occurs, more than 50% of the tumors have metastasized. This means that offshoots have already formed or are forming on other organs of the dog. The form of therapy always depends on the stage. The present metastasis to. If no metastases are found at diagnosis, the infected kidney can be surgically removed if the second kidney is functional.

How does kidney cancer develop?

For what reason your dog has cancer, especially kidney cancer, the vet can rarely answer you completely. In addition to a genetic predisposition, external influences, age, or other diseases can be the origin of the whole thing.

In cancer, however, it is generally a gene mutation that alters cell formation and the immune system no longer manages to fight these malformations. The cells in the body grow. Divide uncontrollably.

However, since the immune system does not attack the body's own cells, the tumor cells can develop and grow without being noticed. The influence of genes on health. Disease is familiar to everyone especially in humans. What many people are not aware of: genetic predisposition also plays an important role in dogs, as well as in cancer.

Certain breeds are more prone to cancer than others. They include Boxers, Irish Water Spaniels, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Viszla, St. Bernards, Staffordshire and Scottish Terriers, Giant Schnauzers, Flat Coated and Golden Retrievers. Mixed breeds of these breeds also carry a risk of cancer.

However, this does not mean that your dog has to have cancer, only that the probability is increased. To be sure that your dog does not have a genetic predisposition, you can do a genetic test to determine genetic markers.

With our hereditary disease gene test for dogs you can find out if and which diseases your dog might carry. This also includes DNA markers that belong to the kidney cancer. You can test your dog in the comfort of your own home (order sample box, swab cheek and return sample box). All information and the findings are sent to your vetevo app.

External influences

By external influences, the vet means both environmental factors and the diet of your dog. Since he is dependent on the food his owner gives him, the wrong food and obesity can also have an influence on the formation of tumors.

The theory that a healthy and balanced diet has a positive effect on the human organism has already been proven by the "China Study" and various other studies. Thus, it is well known that obesity and a nutrient-poor diet without enough fruits and vegetables increase the risk of cancer in humans.

Although there are no comparable studies in animals yet, results of studies with similar approaches have shown that it is not much different in dogs.

Both in Spain and in the USA, researchers have found a link between obesity and the formation of tumors. Similarly, a Scottish study has shown that despite a genetic predisposition, the ultimate rate of dogs developing the disease can be reduced by a diet rich in vegetables.

Vegetables and fruits contain anticarcinogenic substances that are extremely important for humans and animals and can prolong their life without cancer.

With age, the risk of developing cancer increases

In addition to an unhealthy diet, your dog's age is also a factor in cancer development. Young dogs have a relatively low risk of developing kidney cancer, unlike older dogs.

The older your dog gets, the more susceptible he becomes. His organism forms less and less antibodies with advancing age. Its cells no longer renew as quickly as they used to. Mostly the symptoms of tumors in the kidney are non-specific. Can hardly be identified by a layman. Depending on the type, size and location of the tumor, the signs may vary.

Among the visible symptoms is macroscopic hematuria. This involves the presence of traces of blood in the dog's urine. The urine of your dog is either dark or light red in color. However, this staining can be so light that it is hardly noticeable.

The less obvious symptoms that can also be attributed to kidney tumors are:

– Loss of appetite – Fatigue – Listlessness – Weight loss – Swelling of limbs – Abdominal pain

In an advanced stage of the disease, the abdominal circumference of dogs can increase, this is responsible for the growth of the tumor. This is especially common with nephroblastoma.

A cystadenocarcinoma, for example, can show signs of kidney failure, such as vomiting, diarrhea and weakness. On the other hand, conspicuous lumps appear under the skin of the dog.

Diagnosis kidney cancer

A definite determination of kidney cancer can only be made by a veterinarian. This examines both blood and urine, palpates your dog and does an ultrasound and CT scan.

In the case of kidney cancer, the blood values of your dog may show, among other things, altered kidney values. Furthermore, there may be increased white blood cells due to carcinoma. A lack of erythrocytes (red blood cells) due to the loss of blood in the urine can be detected.

The tumor can also cause an overproduction of the hormone erythropoietin, which is responsible for the formation and maturation of red blood cells in the bone marrow. This then leads to an above-average increase in red blood cells.

If your dog's urine shows an increased presence of red blood cells (hematuria) and protein, this can also be an indicator of kidney cancer.

An ultrasound and CT scan will show if the structure of the kidney is altered. Often a contrast medium is administered to enable a detailed examination to be carried out.

Finally, a biopsy of cell tie is often performed by fine needle aspiration. Individual cells are taken from the kidney with a thin needle and examined under the microscope.


It is not necessary that tumors have developed in the place where they are discovered. A malignant tumor spreads its cancer cells through the blood circulation into the organism and tumors form on other organs.

The kidney tumor itself, in the form of a carcinoma, usually metastasizes to lymph nodes, lungs, bones and liver. Sarcomas and nephroblastomas rarely metastasize through the blood in relation to carcinoma. They can also spread to the abdominal cavity. Scatter the spinal cord.


Treatment must distinguish between primary and secondary tumors, as well as between benign and malignant. There is no universal treatment.

If the kidney tumors are detected early, they can be successfully removed by surgery. However, the risk of surgery must also be considered, the age of your dog is especially crucial.

In addition to surgery, radiation or chemotherapy can also help your dog. By radioactive radiation or/. Medication is used to fight the cancer cells. Important: Both treatments do not provide a complete cure, they are only meant to prolong your dog's life or improve the quality of his life.

Before you decide on a treatment method, however, you should think carefully about what is best for your dog (not for you).

Among other things, you should ask yourself to what extent treatment will heal your dog, whether it will improve his quality of life, and whether your dog will be in more pain with or without treatment.

Life expectancy

If the vet diagnoses your dog with kidney cancer, this is unfortunately a final verdict on his remaining lifetime. Which, however, does not have to mean a restricted lifestyle.

Depending on the stage of kidney cancer your dog has a limited life expectancy. If a tumor is removed at an early stage, the dog can continue to live carefree and must at most rebuild its immune system.

If the cancer is already advanced, then treatment often has little to no chance of cure. The life expectancy varies from 2 years to a few weeks.

It is important that you stand by your dog during this time. As long as he does not feel pain, his quality of life is preserved.

In case of pain, various medications can make the rest of his life more comfortable, but this will not be a permanent solution.

vetevo conclusion

Kidney cancer does not develop overnight, as most dogs do not develop the disease until they are older.

Either primary kidney tumors form, or metastases of other tumors favor the development of further on the kidney and in the organism of your dog.

The causes for the disease can be genetic predisposition, but also age or nutrition. Regardless of this, the symptoms cannot be clearly attributed to kidney cancer.

Is your dog tired, not eating or listless? Your dog looks fatter than usual or vomits and has diarrhea? Then going to the vet is the only way to get an exact picture of what is wrong with him and how he can be helped.

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