Jump to section

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 by far the most common form of heart tumor found in dogs though it is rare overall. Large breed dogs like the Golden Retriever are predisposed 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.

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 an interesting correlation to certain large breed dogs, such as German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, and Labrador Retrievers, are predisposed to hemangiosarcoma, in particular, 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 spouts of illness that may have gone unreported due to skipping the veterinarian's office.

    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. Oncology is a growing specialty within veterinary care that is working to catch-up to the needs of dog owners.

    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 who is better equipped 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

    Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

    question-icon-cta

    Ask a Vet

    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, unfortunately. 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

    2 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?

    dog-name-icon

    OPIE

    dog-breed-icon

    Boston Terrier

    dog-age-icon

    10 Years

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

    Critical severity

    thumbs-up-icon

    1 found helpful

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

    Critical severity

    Has Symptoms

    Coughing , Labored Breathing

    My beloved dog,Opie has been diagnosed with an inoperable tumor above his heart after an echocardiogram and blood work I did some research and working with our vet decided to start him on Padillia, a chemo pill taken every other day with monthly blood work to check his kidney and liver functions,also a monthly echo to check the shrinkage of the tumor..Is this a common treatment and are the results in favour of shrinking his tumor?

    Aug. 8, 2018

    OPIE's Owner

    answer-icon

    recommendation-ribbon

    1 Recommendations

    A heart base tumour (chemodectoma) is a relatively rare tumour which is diagnosed based on position of the tumour when found during an echocardiogram; Palladia (toceranib) is used for treatment either as a standalone treatment or in combination with surgery and radiotherapy (see link below). Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM https://cvm.ncsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/RAD-ONC-chemodectomas-in-dogs.pdf www.zoetisus.com/products/dogs/palladia/pdf/palladia_clientinformationsheet.pdf

    Aug. 9, 2018

    Was this experience helpful?

    dog-name-icon

    Seven

    dog-breed-icon

    Labrador Retriever

    dog-age-icon

    9 Years

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

    Moderate severity

    thumbs-up-icon

    0 found helpful

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

    Moderate severity

    Has Symptoms

    Panting

    My dog Seven is a 9 year old black lab mix. On Monday night I noticed he was panting well after cooling off and it seemed to be labored, and he had an odd, hacking cough. I took him to the emergency vet and they did CBC which looked fine. I had noticed mold downstairs in my home and had cleaned it up two days before this, so she recommended anti-biotics in case he had a respiratory infection and hydrocodone to suppress his cough. I got an appointment with his regular vet on Wednesday where we took x-rays, and I found out Thursday that the radiologist says it looks like a tumor on his heart. The vet thinks he may die from this within a month. He's suggesting to follow up with a cardiologist for an ultrasound to confirm diagnosis and then make a treatment plan from there. Seven continues to pant at night but seems very bright and hasn't changed energy or eating. He has been getting a little tired on walks before that but I thought it was from not being in shape after winter. He gets highly excited when we go outside, so now I'm worried he will overdo it with his heart. I'm wondering if you know whether mold would have had any effect his health, especially the tumor and if moving to a new location would help. I do not have the money for any aggressive treatments and don't have any desire to make him sick with chemo anyway. So I'm also wondering, do you have any suggestions for a natural therapy that will support him and his quality of life? Like everyone else here, he's my beloved companion and I feel like a bomb was dropped on me.

    July 20, 2018

    Seven's Owner

    answer-icon

    Dr. Michele K. DVM

    recommendation-ribbon

    0 Recommendations

    I'm so sorry that has happened to Seven. It is unlikely that the mold would have had anything to do with the tumor on his heart, and it would likely not make a difference if you move. Tumors on the heart don't typically respond well to chemotherapy, and it is usually just a matter of time, although some dogs do live longer than others with those types of tumors. For Seven, I think you just need to make sure that he enjoys every moment, and try not to worry, as there isn't much that you can do other than love him. I hope that you have more time with him.

    July 20, 2018

    Was this experience helpful?

    dog-name-icon

    Lady

    dog-breed-icon

    Bichon Frise

    dog-age-icon

    9 Years

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

    Moderate severity

    thumbs-up-icon

    0 found helpful

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

    Moderate severity

    Has Symptoms

    Coughing

    My dog has had a cough since December. I took her to the vet and they took an X-ray. The vet said it looks like she has a mass by her heart that is pressing on her esophagus causing the cough. I was referred to a cardiologist. It’s been about 7 months and I haven’t seen a cardiologist. I’m just not sure what the treatment would be. Is there anything they can do that is not so invasive. Also is there any treatment to help with the cough? I can tell her cough is getting worse. She has an appointment with the vet next week.

    July 8, 2018

    Lady's Owner

    answer-icon

    recommendation-ribbon

    0 Recommendations

    Your Veterinarian may prescribe a cough suppressant but I cannot recommend anything without examining Lady first; as for the suspected tumour, surgery may be the only option but then it may not be a practical solution depending on the findings of the Cardiologist. There is nothing I can really recommend at this moment apart from wait to see your Veterinarian next week. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

    July 9, 2018

    Was this experience helpful?

    dog-name-icon

    Henry

    dog-breed-icon

    Pomeranian/Yorkie

    dog-age-icon

    11 Years

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

    Critical severity

    thumbs-up-icon

    0 found helpful

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

    Critical severity

    Has Symptoms

    Lethargy Collapse Disoriented

    I'm so sorry for everyone's loss. My heart aches for each and every one of you. My beloved Pomeranian/Yorkie "Henry" was 11. He was diagnosed on April 7, 2020 with a heart tumor after he collapsed. He also was fine the day before. We rushed him to an ER cardiologist where they immediately removed the liquid around his heart and placed him in on oxygen for the next 6 hours. We picked him up and then went to see an Oconlogist a couple of days later. After his checkup, she said his vitals were good and that his heart was clear. She gave us Yunnan Bai Yao and ImYunity to help stop the bleeding. She also recommended chemotherapy options. On April 12, Henry's tumor bled again and his heart filled with blood. He collapsed again and we took him back to the ER. They performed the procedure again, removed the liquid from around his heart and then kept him overnight. We picked him up the next day and he was definitely weaker. We were told to await a call from the Cardiologist who would discuss the option of a Pericardiectomy surgery. After we heard from the surgeon, we learned that the surgery would be too risky for Henry, who was 13lbs. Even after both procedures and keep him on a regimented routine with the medicines, Henry's health quickly deteriorated on April 15, 2020. Henry was sent to rest in peace that evening. May all our broken hearts heal together and may our best friend rest in peace.

    dog-name-icon

    Kira

    dog-breed-icon

    Golden Retriever

    dog-age-icon

    11 Years

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

    Critical severity

    thumbs-up-icon

    1 found helpful

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

    Critical severity

    Has Symptoms

    Loss Of Appetite
    Loss Of Consciousness
    Difficulty Passing Stool
    Difficulty Pooing

    My gorgeous 11yr old Golden Retriever collapsed on Sunday ( Mother’s Day) and was unable to stand and was struggling for breath, we took her to the vets who diagnosed the tumour around her heart and said it was leaking , I was so shocked as she had been rolling around on the grass the day before, it broke my heart but they said the kindest thing was to say goodbye to her as she wouldn’t survive the surgery. I could see she was tired and struggling and I didn’t want her to suffer. I miss her so much my heart is broken 😢

    dog-name-icon

    MToto

    dog-breed-icon

    Rhodesian Ridgeback

    dog-age-icon

    13 Years

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

    Critical severity

    thumbs-up-icon

    0 found helpful

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

    Critical severity

    Has Symptoms

    Lethargy
    Loss Of Appetite
    Breaths Faster At Rest
    Slightly Distended Abdomen

    Strangely enough, reading lots of your experiences has eased my mind somewhat. I am still bemused at the speed of this illness. One moment my just turned 13 year old Ridgeback boy was happy in his self, old with usual weak back legs etc. but still happy to dance around and bully me for his food, and the next - gone. Poof - just like that. The Tuesday morning he didn't want to get out of his bed, but eventually came to my calling. Didn't want his breakfast but ate it later but without enthusiasm. Because of his bloat 1.5 years ago he was fed four meals a day and let me know an hour before each meal that it was time. Tuesday he just slept on. That night he did not seem in pain, but his breathing was quite fast so I sat with him on and off. Wed morning was just the same so I took him to the vet, expecting that he had an inflamed tooth or something. She took ages listening to his chest, then I sat and waited whilst he had a chest x-ray, bloods and a scan. The lovely vet came back and told me that we were going to have a very difficult conversation, and gave me the news about his tumour. She even drew diagrams to better explain what was going on. I told her I wanted him to be put to sleep at home, so could someone come out the next day, but she said that he could go into cardiac arrest at any moment and offered to follow me home, giving me 15 mins to prepare. She was kindness herself, and my hound looked so peaceful as he passed away. My biggest fear was that I had not seen this sooner, but reading above, it seems to be a sudden, aggressive illness. I am in a million pieces and miss my boy dearly, as you can all well understand, but I certainly feel that I did make the right decision for him, and it would have been too dangerous and painful for him if I had left it any longer.

    dog-name-icon

    Ginger

    dog-breed-icon

    Boxer Mix

    dog-age-icon

    5 Years

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

    Critical severity

    thumbs-up-icon

    0 found helpful

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

    Critical severity

    Has Symptoms

    We just found out our Boxer mix has a heart tumor. It is incurable, and she has already started to build up fluid in her belly. She is not eating food but is eating scrambled eggs and is drinking water. When do we know that is is time to let her go?

    dog-name-icon

    Bruna

    dog-breed-icon

    Boxer

    dog-age-icon

    7 Years

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

    Critical severity

    thumbs-up-icon

    0 found helpful

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

    Critical severity

    Has Symptoms

    Lethargy
    Lethargy Loss Of Coordination

    My boxer Bruna will be 8 on September 9. She suddenly started acting ill and after some vague symptoms and a weekend in the vet's office for liver issues that we both thought might have been caused by a food issue and thousands of dollars...my wonderful vet decided to do an ultrasound at no cost to me and found cancer throughout my baby's heart and spleen. Probably mast cells she figures so more of a lymphoma type tumor. Her respirations are ridiculously high and there isn't going to be a medical resolution, they gave me medications to help her be comfortable. She is playing and eating almost 5 cups of food a day, yet she is not quite 50lbs and you can still see her ribs. Her fur brother is obviously sad. Our dilemma is this...do we let her run and play as hard as she can until collapse? I do not want to have her put down at the vet as that was her first time at an office-at our previous residence all our vet care was done in our home, even her spay so going there was so foreign and scary. Does this seem cruel or painful? She still wants to run and play but it's obvious it's...well her respirations are about 60 per minute, even sleeping.

    Heart Tumors Average Cost

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

    Average Cost

    $10,000

    How can we help your pet?