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- Canine throat cancer is a serious condition that can be difficult to detect and manage effectively.
- Throat cancer can affect the tonsils, pharynx, and larynx, with symptoms that can overlap with other diseases.
- Throat cancer is more commonly observed in middle-aged and senior dogs, and vigilant monitoring is crucial for early detection and intervention.
- Throat cancer in dogs can be caused by various factors, including genetics, viral infections, and exposure to environmental pollutants.
Throat cancer is fortunately very rare in dogs; however, certain types of tumors in the throat can grow rapidly, leading to a poor prognosis if not detected early.
Spotting the symptoms of throat cancer during the early stages of the disease is crucial. Early detection opens up several treatment options and offers a more encouraging prognosis for the affected dog. Throat cancer can originate in the esophagus, trachea, or larynx and may progress, involving other organs as well.
Canine throat cancer poses a significant threat as it can be difficult to detect and manage effectively. This type of cancer is more commonly observed in middle-aged and senior dogs. Some say there’s a higher incidence among male dogs and larger dogs, although I don’t notice this correlation myself. In my experience, the best way to prepare for this condition is to keep up to date on how to treat your dog’s throat cancer, as well as pre- and post-op care. In many cases, surgery is often the first-line treatment for throat cancer in dogs. It’s a common approach to tackle the cancer effectively. Additionally, radiation therapy, which uses high-energy radiation to selectively target and eradicate cancer cells, is another viable treatment option that can be considered.
Throat cancer in dogs is a grave condition that affects the tonsils, pharynx, and larynx. Identifying this malignancy can be challenging, especially since its symptoms may overlap with those of other diseases. Unfortunately, there has been a noticeable increase in the incidence of throat cancer among dogs, emphasizing the importance for pet owners to be vigilant and take necessary precautions.
Spotting The Three Main Types Of Throat Cancer In Dogs
The good news is that esophageal cancer is extremely rare in dogs. According to the National Canine Cancer Foundation (NCCF), “It accounts for even less than 0.5 percent of all canine cancers.”
The NCCF and vetinfo list the following symptoms:
- Vomiting right after eating
- Difficulty and pain when swallowing
- Weight loss
The primary symptom of this type of cancer is respiratory distress, such as your dog’s breathing becoming labored or inhibited. Along with the same symptoms for esophageal cancer, doctors advises pet parents to watch for these signs:
- Noisy breathing
- Breathing with his mouth open
- Bluish mucous membranes
The majority of tumors that impact the larynx are non-cancerous (benign), but there can also be cancerous tumors present.
These are the signs of laryngeal cancer:
- Changes in your dog’s voice
- Inability to bark (this might also be due to allergies so you must check with your vet before assuming anything)
- Showing discomfort when you touch his throat
What Causes Throat Cancer?
The exact cause of throat cancer is not known, according to doctors. It has been noted, however, that larger breeds tend to be more susceptible to throat cancer than smaller ones. Throat cancer involves the development of growths that originate from the connective and supportive tissue, resulting from the uncontrolled proliferation of cells.
A number of factors can be attributed to the development of throat cancer. The major ones are:
- Some cancers result from the invasion of cancer cells that developed in other locations in the body, replacing healthy cells and ultimately developing a cancerous growth.
- Chondrosarcoma or cancer of the larynx can be either primary, originating in bone or cartilage, or secondary, arising from a tumor that initially was benign.
- Throat cancer can sometimes be caused by a viral infection. For instance, squamous cell carcinoma, a type of chondrosarcoma in dogs, has been associated with the canine papillomavirus.
- Genetics can also play a part, making a dog more susceptible to cancer because of cell malformation or sensitivity to pollutants, particularly as dogs age.
- Inflamed tissue that does not abate can also complicate into malignant tumors.
Throat Cancer Diagnosis
After getting your dog’s complete medical history, your vet may perform blood tests, take X-rays and draw samples of fluid from the lymph nodes. Fluid from the lymph nodes around the allow them to take a white blood cell count. A high white blood cell count in the regional lymph nodes around the throat will indicate that your dog’s immune system is likely battling a tumor in that area.
Routine blood tests include a complete blood cell count, biochemistry profile, urinalysis and platelet count. The results are frequently normal in such cases.
X-rays will reveal whether the tumor has metastasized (spread to other organs). Your dog may also need magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or a CT scan of his neck and chest to help your vet confirm the diagnosis.
Your veterinarian may opt for another technique known as bronchoscopy, where a tubular device is inserted into the body through the mouth and down into the windpipe. This allows for a more detailed visual examination. Additionally, a biopsy of the surrounding tissue can be taken during the procedure.
In cases of esophageal cancer, two diagnostic procedures may be performed. An esophagram involves X-raying your dog after they swallow a barium solution. Similarly, an esophagoscopy, which is similar to a bronchoscopy but performed in the esophagus, may also be conducted.
These diagnostic tests help determine the stage of the cancer, which in turn determines the most suitable course of treatment and the prognosis for the dog.If your dog is diagnosed with neck cancer it is necessary that you will not leash him any more especially in the neck. A rule of thumb some dog owners prefer for these types of scenarios is to use an invisible fence as an alternative that will not hurt his neck and you will always know where your dog is.
How is Throat Cancer Treated?
When it comes to treating throat cancer, there’s really little you can do at home on your own. Surgically removing your dog’s tumor tissue is one of the best ways to go about treating throat cancer. In the process of doing so, the connective tissue surrounding the tumor will likely have to be removed as well.
Surgery is generally considered the best option as it offers the possibility of completely eliminating all cancerous cells, potentially preventing their recurrence. However, to address the risk of new cancerous cells forming in the dog’s body, chemotherapy is often recommended. Administering these drugs helps inhibit the development of such cells. Radiation therapy may also be advised, especially for tumors that cannot be effectively dealt with through surgery.
In cases of tracheal cancer, part of the dog’s trachea may need to be removed, and the healthy ends of the trachea are sutured together, a process known as anastomosis.
After the surgery, it’s possible that your dog may require a feeding tube to be inserted into their stomach to ensure they receive adequate nutrition until they can swallow food normally again.
How You Can Help
After your beloved furry companion has been given the green light to return home from the hospital, it’s essential to ensure they get ample rest for an extended period. Set up a quiet and secluded spot in your home with bedding, food, and water to facilitate their recovery. The area should be free from disturbances, but still within your reach so you can regularly check on them. The veterinarian will have provided specific instructions for administering prescribed pain relief and antibiotics, which must be followed precisely. Additionally, there will be special dietary requirements to consider after the throat surgery.
The veterinary team will schedule a follow-up appointment to monitor your pet’s recovery progress. In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact the clinic. Due to the rarity of throat cancer (chondrosarcoma) in dogs, there is limited information available regarding the prognosis for this particular type of cancer.
Your dog will need plenty of rest, so be sure to keep children and other pets away from him while he recuperates. Your vet may prescribe pain medication to ease your dog’s discomfort. As your dog recovers, supplements like reishi can help build up his immune system. Quality nutrition is also paramount to ensure proper recovery. Check our article on how to make the best food for your dog.
If a dog is affected by this type of cancer, they may survive for several months even without undergoing treatment. However, even with successful treatment, the life expectancy of such patients is typically limited, particularly if the cancer was not detected and treated early.
In addition to the duration of life, the quality of life becomes a critical consideration. As a result, many pet owners choose peaceful euthanasia over subjecting their dogs to the stress of surgery, prioritizing their beloved companion’s comfort and overall well-being. This decision allows them to focus on providing their dog with the best possible care and a dignified end-of-life experience.
As always, a thorough discussion with your vet is best in order for you to arrive at an informed conclusion.