Prepare for unexpected vet bills

Youtube Play

What are Heart Tumors?

Tumors may develop in or around the heart, arising either directly from the heart tissue or spreading from another part of the body. Hemangiosarcoma is the most common form of heart tumor found in dogs, although it is rare overall. Large breed dogs like the Golden Retriever are more prone to the condition. The prognosis for dogs with hemangiosarcoma is poor, but prompt surgical treatment prior to metastasis may increase your dog’s odds of survival.

Hemangiosarcoma is rare but aggressive and is the most common type of heart tumor found in dogs. Tumors affect the heart’s ability to pump blood, which leads to weakness and lethargy. If hemangiosarcoma is left untreated, the tumor may rupture, filling the sac around the heart with blood and resulting in sudden collapse.

Vet bills can sneak up on you.

Plan ahead. Get the pawfect insurance plan for your pup.

Compare plans
advertisement image

Heart Tumors Average Cost

From 39 quotes ranging from $1,500 - $15,000

Average Cost

$10,000

Symptoms of Heart Tumors in Dogs

Some dogs with heart tumors show mild to no clinical signs while others may have more severe symptoms depending on the extent of the cancer. Symptoms are primarily nonspecific and include:

  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Weakness
  • Pain
  • Collapse

Symptoms that relate to the heart and may correlate to the tumor, versus the tumor itself:

  • Loss of coordination
  • Loss of appetite, disinterest in treats or snacks
  • Accumulation of fluid within the chest cavity, abdominal cavity, or visible abdomen stretching
  • Weight loss
Types

Heart tumors may arise from heart tissue or may metastasize from other areas of the body. The most common type of heart tumors are hemangiosarcomas, which typically involve the right side of the heart. Other types include:

  • Chemodectoma - rare and slow growing. These tumors have been found in dogs in two forms, 1.) carotid body tumor and 2.) aortic body tumor. Affected dogs are usually older (7+), and brachycephalic (broad with a short skull) breeds, such as Boxers, have seen an increase in diagnosis. Chemodectoma will display itself through coughing, lack of desire to exercise, and random difficulty breathing.
  • Fibroma - usually discrete and non-invasive, cutaneous fibroma have been reported in Doberman, Boxer, and Golden Retrievers. Fibroma will commonly develop in the head, mouth, and extremities.
  • Granular cell - commonly formed in the tongue or head, granular cells are characterized by a large amount of collagen tissue.
  • Lipofibroma - particularly uncommon, lipofibroma is being researched by oncologists.
  • Myxoma - slow growing and locally destructive, these tumors affect joint tissue, kidneys, heart, teeth, and bone. Myxoma is more frequently reported in large-breed dogs with most cases leading to congestive heart failure.
  • Teratoma - rare, benign, and locally invasive, teratoma are characterized by germ cell tumors containing skin, tissue, and in some cases, bone. Most often developing in young felines, up to 6 years in age, symptoms will display as abdominal pain, weight loss, and an inflated abdomen.
  • arrow-up-icon

    Top

    Causes of Heart Tumors in Dogs

    Much as with other cancer types, there is currently no known cause for heart tumors in dogs. There is a predisposition in certain large breed dogs, such as German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, and Labrador Retrievers, but heart tumors may develop in any dog. The condition typically affects middle-aged to older dogs.

    arrow-up-icon

    Top

    Diagnosis of Heart Tumors in Dogs

    As with any veterinarian visit, it's especially important to provide the veterinarian a thorough history of your dog's recent health. This should include behavioral changes, accidents (interaction with wildlife, sprained leg, getting into the pantry), living patterns, and any illnesses that may have gone unreported.

    Because heart tumors are not detectable on the surface, asymptomatic dogs are usually diagnosed when they receive radiographs as part of the diagnostic process for another condition. However, if your dog is exhibiting unusual behavior or general weakness, the veterinarian will conduct basic tests as part of the initial examination. These may include blood work and a urinalysis, along with an electrocardiogram if the veterinarian suspects heart problems.

    Heart tumors are typically diagnosed through a combination of history, physical findings, and clinical laboratory analysis. The presence of the tumor can be confirmed with a chest radiograph or with echocardiography, which uses sound waves to create an image of the heart. Depending on the location and extent of the heart tumor, the veterinarian may recommend further testing to support the diagnosis of heart tumors and to discover if metastasis is present. These tests include a complete blood count and biochemistry profile, cytological analysis, imaging, and analysis of fluids withdrawn from the abdomen. If the veterinarian encounters a particularly interesting, rare, or developed case, she may refer you to a specialized cancer doctor, or oncologist. 

    arrow-up-icon

    Top

    Treatment of Heart Tumors in Dogs

    Treatment plans will vary depending on the location of the tumor, the extent of metastasis, and the overall condition of your dog. Hemangiosarcoma carries a poor prognosis if left untreated, as the tumor may lead to bleeding below the pericardium, which is a thin membrane that encloses the heart. This places additional pressure on the heart and may prevent it from pumping blood. As part of treatment, the veterinarian may need to drain the blood from beneath the pericardium so that the heart can resume to its normal function.

    Surgery and chemotherapy are both potential options for treating a heart tumor. In either case, the veterinarian will most likely refer you to a specialist to address the condition. Surgical treatment is not usually recommended, especially with hemangiosarcoma, as the tumors will most likely have metastasized by the time of diagnosis. However, if the tumor is small and has not yet spread, surgery may be able to remove it completely.

    Chemotherapy can control the tumor’s growth and limit metastasis, and certain types of heart tumors may respond to the medication.

    arrow-up-icon

    Top

    Recovery of Heart Tumors in Dogs

    If your dog underwent surgery successfully, you should now focus on providing a safe, quiet place where he or she can recover. Limit physical activity, and inspect the surgical site daily for signs of infection.

    Following either surgery or chemotherapy, the veterinarian will need to examine your dog again in order to ensure that the tumors are either gone or are under control. Unfortunately, heart tumors can be aggressive, and hemangiosarcoma is not often curable. Most dogs with hemangiosarcoma do not live long even with treatment. If your dog is diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma, you may wish to focus on maintaining your dog’s quality of life with advice from the veterinarian.

    arrow-up-icon

    Top

    *Wag! may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Items are sold by the retailer, not Wag!.

    Heart Tumors Average Cost

    From 39 quotes ranging from $1,500 - $15,000

    Average Cost

    $10,000

    arrow-up-icon

    Top

    Heart Tumors Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

    dog-name-icon

    dog-breed-icon

    Labrador Retriever

    dog-age-icon

    Eleven Years

    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

    Unknown severity

    thumbs-up-icon

    0 found helpful

    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

    Unknown severity

    Has Symptoms

    Mass Right Chest About The Size Of A Small Football

    do you know what this could be? A few years back she had a spleen tumor thT was removed and benign.

    Sept. 25, 2020

    Owner

    answer-icon

    Dr. Michele K. DVM

    recommendation-ribbon

    0 Recommendations

    Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay in my reply, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. With out being able to see your dog, and palpate the lump or take a small sample, I don't know what type of lump this might be It is possible that it is a benign lump such a as a lipoma, but even those sometimes need to be taken off surgically. It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get any testing or treatment taken care of that might be needed.

    Oct. 19, 2020

    Was this experience helpful?

    dog-name-icon

    Jazz

    dog-breed-icon

    Portuguese Water Dog

    dog-age-icon

    9 Years

    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

    Serious severity

    thumbs-up-icon

    17 found helpful

    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

    Serious severity

    Has Symptoms

    Our Jazz is a Portuguese Water Dog, 9 years of age and a loving beautiful personality. Throughout the years he has had many problems. He is highly allergic to a certain tree that is planted for miles along the main avenue in our city and beyond. He was found to be allergic to many dog foods and could only eat salmon, beef and turkey. He suffered greatly with his allergies. We did everything we could to ease his condition but it was ongoing. He was on quite a bit of meds to help but even that did not truly help. A few years ago we found a cancerous bump on the top of his head and had it removed immediately and had no after effects. Last November I noticed when I was throwing him one of his favorite treats (cucumbers) that he didn't seem to know where it was. Took him the next day to my vet and he confirmed to me that he had become blind. I took him to a Veterinary Opthamologist (sp) and found that nothing could be done. So began my journey with being sure that he was always safe (keeping him away from the pool and spa) and never off leash in our backyard so that he would not hurt himself walking into trees, etc. Over a month ago he began to make this odd almost hollow sounding sound that scared me. I immediately took him to our vet and she did blood work (all ok) and x-rays and put him on antibiotics for the cough which she thought might be kennel cough. I rejected that because he was never in a situation where he would get it. The x-ray showed a enlargement near the heart. The x-rays were sent to a specialist. He thought it might be Cushings because I did indicate to him that since his blindness he drinks a lot of water and urinates without control. The specialist asked for another set of x-rays which I had done last week and have yet to hear from the specialist. I will touch base tomorrow. Today, he did not eat all his breakfast and ate only a bite of his dinner. I noticed throw up on the grass. Our hearts are broken because he is our champion, our hero, our best buddy BUT our decision has been made....we will not put him through chemo, surgery or anything else. We will love him, take care of him and when he can no longer have any quality of life we will help him to heaven.

    Sept. 12, 2018

    Jazz's Owner

    Was this experience helpful?

    Heart Tumors Average Cost

    From 39 quotes ranging from $1,500 - $15,000

    Average Cost

    $10,000

    Vet bills can sneak up on you.

    Plan ahead. Get the pawfect insurance plan for your pup.

    Compare plans
    advertisement image
    Ask a vet
    Need pet insurance?

    Learn more in the Wag! app

    Five starsFive starsFive starsFive starsFive stars

    43k+ reviews

    Install