Lung Cancer in Dogs & Cats
by Roger Ross DVM

Respiratory Cancer

Primary cancers of the respiratory tract are not too common compared to cancers starting in other organs...BUT...the lungs are a common site of secondary tumors...cancers that have spread from other places in the body.  The large majority of cancers that do occur in the respiratory system...the most common type being in the nasal sinus of dogs...are malignant, so anytime a mass is detected within the nasal passages, the larynx, the trachea, or in the thorax, we're usually dealing with a very serious disease.

Nasal Tumors:  Male cats are more prone to nasal cancer for unknown reasons, and certain breeds of dogs of both sexes are predisposed: Airdales, Bassetts, Old English Sheep Dogs, Scotties, Collies, Sheperds, Keeshonds, and German Short Haired Pointers.  Most of the information for this article, by the way, is from "Saunders Manual of Small Animal Medicine"...a very respected text book.  But my experience differs a little in that three of the 7 or so cases of nasal cancer I've seen have been in the Artic Breeds; Malamutes and Siberian Huskies.  I only mention this to highlight that any breed can get cancer and if your pet is having trouble with nose bleeds, sinus congestion, facial disfiguration, or just a snotty nose that lasts more than a week, please get your pet to your veterinarian.

Other signs include behavioral changes (possibly from pressure on the Brain), seizures, and blindness.  As serious as respiratory tract cancers tend to be, great improvements and success rates have been made in their treatment...especially if detected before excessive destruction and spreading of the cancer occurs.  Unfortunately, most respiratory cancers have been growing, on average, for about 3 months before symptoms are obvious.  Another reason for regular check ups.  By listening closely to lungs, examining the oral and nasal passages, and by the palpation of lymph nodes, your vet is likely to detect trouble in the early stages when treatment is most likely to be curative.

For cancers within the thorax...usually carcinomas of the lungs...the main initial symptom is coughing; usually harsh and non-productive.  And this is interesting...a lot of lung tumors are associated with arthritic (hypertrophic osteopathy) disease; so lameness may be a first clue.  The trouble with all this is that most lung cancers are in older patients, and in older patients we often expect a little arthritic lameness and a little bit of a cough.  It takes vigilance and extra effort to tell the difference...and sometimes it simply requires a more complete diagnostic work-up:  Multiple X rays, ultrasound, and blood work.  Unlike in Western Human Medicine where all this would be routine with any patient with persistent symptoms, in Veterinary medicine we sometimes have to twist your arm a little to authorize what might very well turn out not to be productive, but is required, nonetheless, if our goal is to detect lung cancer soon enough to help the patient.

For more about cancer in general and about the great strides in treatment improvement and success rates, please check out our page about Cancer

Lung Cancer
On This Page

A little about lung cancer in dogs and cats.

About Other Respiratory Diseases On
Other Pages:
There is a complete directory of links at the bottom of the page

Back To The Main Page About Respiratory Problems in Dogs And Cats

Respiratory: Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)

Respiratory: Feline Upper Respiratory Complex (Colds)

Respiratory: Kennel Cough in Dogs

Laryngeal Paralysis in dogs

Collapsed Trachea in dogs

Respiratory: Heartworm disease in dogs and cats

Respiratory: Pneumonia

How we treat different medical problems in pets; What to Expect        FoxNest Hospital       About our No Kill Shelter       
The History of Veterinary Medicine         The Human-Animal Bond    
There is a complete site map at the bottom of this page
Website Directory

Home    The Human-Animal Bond     The History of Veterinary Medicine    About our No Kill Shelter     The FoxNest Veterinary Hospital     

"What To Expect When You Go To The Vet"
if your pet should have a problem with ...

Abscesses, wounds, and injuries

Arthritis, Lameness, Fractures, and Ligament Injuries
To include Femoral Head Removal, Hip Dysplasia, Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries, Panosteitis, Radiographic Demonstrations, Disc Disease, and Bone Surgery

Bladder, Urinary Tract, & Kidney Problems

Blood Diseases, Anemias etc
Strokes, Vascular Diseases, Anemias, DVT, DIC, Blood Parasites, Rat Poison, & Bleeding disorders

Cancer, Masses, Lumps and Bumps

Cardiology  Heart disease in Cats, Cardiac Hypertrophy, Valvular disease, Cardiac Insufficiency, Congestive Heart Failure, Heartworm Disease, and a little history about the milestones in treating heart disease

Cats: general information page and directory of diseases and problems specific to cats including vaccine recommendations, leukemia, feline viral infections, feline upper respiratory disease and cats that just aren't feeling well.

Dentistry and problems of the mouth and throat

Dermatology: Skin problems including allergies, rashes, bacterial infections, and itching. Hair Loss, Yeast Infections, Hormonal Problems


Ear Infections and Other Ear Problems

Eye Problems  and Ophthalmic Diseases

Exotics:  Pocket Pets, Rabbits, Hamsters etc

Fleas, Ticks, and other parasite problems

Heart disease; Cardiac diseases, vascular diseases, stroke, & heartworms

Hormone Diseases: Diabetes, Thyroid Disease, Cushing's Disease or Hypercortisolism, Addison's disease or Hypocortisolism, Pancreatitis, obesity as a disease

Infectious Diseases  Colds, Distemper, Parvo, Leptospirosis, Bruceellosis, Panleukopenia, Feline AIDS, Leukemia, Hepatitis, Kennel Cough, Ringworm, Rabies, FIP, Canine Herpes, Toxic Shock Syndrome, & More

Intestinal problems: diarrhea, constipation, torsion, indigestion, and gas. Also pancreatitis, vomiting, esophagitis, colitis, parvo and other types of dysentery

Kidney Disease

Liver Diseases     

Metabolic Diseases: Diabetes, Thyroid Disease, Cushing's Disease or Hypercortisolism, Addison's disease or Hypocortisolism, Pancreatitis, obesity as a disease

Neural Problems and Diseases: Epilepsy, Rabies, Distemper, FIP, Paralysis, Tetanus, Seizures, Disc Disease, Toxoplasmosis & others

Obesity; new information and about Pfizer's new FDA approved treatment


Parasite Problems Fleas, Ticks, Heartworms, Intestinal Worms, Mosquitos, Lice, Mites, and other welfare recipients

Poisons  Snakes, Insects, household chemicals, plants, and foods that might poison your pet

Respiratory Diseases

Senior Pet Page: Geriatric Medicine

Skeletal-Muscular Problems Arthritis, Fractures, ACL, Ligament Injuries, Disc Disease, Pannus, and many other problems of the bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments

Skin Problems: allergies, rashes, bacterial infections, and itching. Hair Loss, Yeast Infections, Hormonal Problems

Surgery: Spays, Castrations, Testicle Recipes, Soft Tissue Surgery, Hard Tissue Surgery (Bones), C- Sections, Declawing, Tumor Removal and Cancer Surgery

Wounds, punctures, injuries, and abscesses

Urinary Tract Diseases and Problems

Other Topics on This Site

The Human-Animal Bond

History of Veterinary Medicine; lots of interesting stuff    

Zoonotics: Diseases, worms, and parasites people get from pets.

Lab Tests and what they tell us

Medications/Pharmacy Page

Nutrition & Diets
Includes information about Prescription diets used to treat disease, and a discussion about the pet food industry

Reproduction, breeding, & rearing information
Includes information about feline and canine heat or estrus, breeding, C-Sections, pyometra or Infected Uterus, dystocia, no milk, mastitis, & brucellosis
Also newborn care, undescended testicles, and alternative to spaying and castration

Vaccine and other preventive health recommendations

WildLife Page:  Taking care of baby bunnies, squirrels, and birds.  A very funny story about beavers, and other misc information

Our Dog Page:  a directory of problems of concern in dogs including parvovirus, distemper, canine herpes, and other diseases

Veterinary Pet Insurance

There are multiple masses in the lungs of the radiograph above.  The letter T for tumor marks some of the larger ones.