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What are Abnormal Growths in the Lower Intestines?

The lower intestines are made up of most of the small intestine and all of the large intestine, which includes the appendix, colon, rectum, and anus. Benign polyps and adenomas can cause an obstruction and may be in groups, while malignant growths often metastasize and cause advanced illness. If a canine has lower abdominal growths, the veterinarian checks for lymphoma, adenocarcinoma, leiomyosarcoma, and small benign tumors.

Abnormal growths in the lower intestines of dogs include benign polyps and adenomas as well as cancerous epithelial tumors, or adenocarcinomas. 

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Symptoms of Abnormal Growths in the Lower Intestines in Dogs

There are several different symptoms of abnormal growths in the lower intestines, and some may gradually increase over time and some may have a sudden onset. Symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Depression
  • Weight loss
  • Dehydration
  • Fever
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Malaise
  • Abnormal or discolored stools


There are several different types of abnormal growths in the lower intestines of dogs. Many of the types are malignant, and in some cases the malignancy has spread into the body. In some cases, the abnormal growths are due to benign polyps or growths. Types of abnormal growths in the lower intestines are:

  • Adenocarcinoma
  • Lymphoma
  • Leiomyosarcoma
  • Polyps
  • Benign growths

Causes of Abnormal Growths in the Lower Intestines in Dogs

Even though much research has been conducted and is still being studied, the cause of abnormal growths in the lower intestines is not definite. There are many factors, and oftentimes there is more than one factor that can cause the benign or cancerous growths. Causes can include:

  • Dietary habits
  • Genetic susceptibility
  • Predisposed breed type - for example, Boxers, German Shepherds, Poodles, Great Danes and Spaniels are predisposed to colorectal tumors

Diagnosis of Abnormal Growths in the Lower Intestines in Dogs

If your loved one is having any of the above symptoms, a veterinarian visit may be in your very near future. Once at the veterinarian, he will review the symptoms and conduct a complete physical examination. The examination may include the veterinarian thoroughly feeling the abdominal area check for any abnormal growths; often the growths can be felt.

Any tests that are conducted will be decided by the medical professional after reviewing the symptoms and complete physical examination. He may perform the following tests:  a chemistry profile, complete blood count, imaging of the abdominal area, radiography, ultrasound, laparoscopy, endoscopy, and any clinical pathology testing. 

It is important to locate the precise area of the abnormal growth, or tumor, so that any further testing or surgery will be successful.  In terms of treatment, there are many options, and this is determined by proper testing and diagnosis. The veterinarian may opt to do an endoscopy or minor exploratory surgery to collect any samples needed in order to come to a complete diagnosis before treatment is decided upon.

Treatment of Abnormal Growths in the Lower Intestines in Dogs

Exploratory Surgery

When diagnosing the abnormal growths in the lower intestines, the veterinarian may have completed an exploratory surgery by opening up the abdomen and collecting samples of any lesions. This may instead happen during the treatment phase; samples may need to be collected to determine more about the type of growth they need to treat. Biopsies are collected from the intestines, lymph nodes, liver, and any other organs to be evaluated for metastasis. If the abnormal growth or growths are malignant, the veterinarian must know where and how much it has spread.


Although lymphoma cannot be surgically corrected, other tumors can be surgically removed. If they haven’t metastasized the survival rate can be anywhere from one to three years, depending on the dog and the condition. Cancer that has spread to other organs or lymph nodes can be surgically removed and then followed with chemotherapy. Unfortunately, the survival rate of dogs with metastasized tumors is very low. 


Anti-inflammatory drugs, such as piroxicam, may be given to reduce the size of any tumors. This non-steroid drug, or NSAID, may be one method of treatment that your veterinarian decides upon.


In some cases of abnormal growths in the lower intestines of dogs, chemotherapy may be suggested. Studies show that chemotherapy is effective in a small percentage of canines, and the effectiveness only increases the life span by at the most between one and three years. Your veterinarian will know the most recent studies and types of chemotherapy drugs that are promising; every dog is different and every diagnosis is unique.

Recovery of Abnormal Growths in the Lower Intestines in Dogs

It is vital to follow the veterinarian’s instruction if your dog had invasive surgery in order for him to heal properly. The site of the operation will need to be kept as sterile as possible and the dog may be given a “cone” , known as the elizabethan collar, so he cannot lick or chew at the incision.

After surgery or any other testing, the veterinarian will be able to give you the prognosis of your companion. He will view the pathology report and will know if the cancer has spread or if it can recur. He will also give you a time frame of life expectancy.  

The dog will probably need to be on a special diet for as long as the veterinarian recommends and you will be given signs to watch for to be sure the dog is recuperating and his body functions, such as urination and the passing of feces is normal.