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What is Kidney Cancer?

Renal cancer is a type of cancer that affects the kidney and can either originate within the organ or metastasize (spread) from another part of the body. Renal tumors are not common in dogs, though the majority of primary renal tumors are cancerous. These typically affect middle-aged or older dogs, but cases have been noted in younger animals.

Malignant renal tumors can occur in one or both kidneys, developing either within the kidney or metastasizing from other areas of the body. These tumors are not common in dogs but require the affected kidney to be removed. Since kidney cancer may lead to acute renal failure, early detection is vital for a better prognosis.

Kidney Cancer Average Cost

From 2 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $16,000

Average Cost

$10,000

Symptoms of Kidney Cancer in Dogs

Some dogs do not exhibit symptoms of kidney cancer, though they may begin to show signs as the disease grows. These include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Blood in the urine

If the kidneys begin to fail, the dog may develop additional symptoms such as:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Depression
  • Dental disease
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Causes of Kidney Cancer in Dogs

Much as with other cancers, little is known about the causes of kidney cancer in dogs. The cancer most commonly appears in middle-aged to older animals and may develop in the kidney itself or spread from other organs. Dogs of both sexes are equally susceptible to renal cancer, though this type of cancer is rare overall. There is no correlation between the cancer and breed except in the German Shepherd, which is predisposed to a syndrome of renal cystadenocarcinomas.

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Diagnosis of Kidney Cancer in Dogs

If your dog is exhibiting unusual behavior, visit the veterinarian immediately. Many of the symptoms of kidney cancer are not specific to the disease, which is why a close examination by the veterinarian is vital for an accurate diagnosis.

At the initial visit, blood work and urine sampling is usually performed to establish the dog’s ability to tolerate treatment, as well as to develop a clearer picture of the patient’s overall health. The veterinarian may opt to do a needle aspirate or biopsy of the tumor if kidney cancer is found. In order to determine the extent of the cancer, a thorough evaluation may be conducted, which may include:

  • Chest radiographs or x-rays
  • Ultrasound of the abdomen
  • Complete blood cell profile
  • Advanced imaging, such as a CT or MRI

These tests help establish the size of the tumor and determine the presence of metastasis to other areas of the body. Depending on the results, further tests may be necessary to ensure that other organs are healthy. The veterinarian may also perform function tests on the unaffected kidney.

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Treatment of Kidney Cancer in Dogs

Treatment varies depending on several factors, all of which will have been determined during the diagnosis stage.

Surgery

Nephrectomy, or surgical removal of the affected kidney, is the recommended treatment for most renal cancer that has not spread to other parts of the body. Surgery is only a viable option if the second kidney is functioning properly and if your dog is strong enough to withstand the operation. Your dog can live a normal life with one kidney, and surgery may remove the cancer entirely, depending on the extent of the tumor. Metastasis or recurrence may still be possible months after nephrectomy.

Chemotherapy

If the cancer affects both kidneys or has metastasized to other areas of the body, rendering a nephrectomy infeasible, chemotherapy may be used to help combat the spread of the tumors and prolong your dog’s life. Your veterinarian can administer a potent combination of drugs, limiting the cancer’s spread to other organs. However, there is little documentation to support chemotherapy’s effectiveness against most primary renal tumors.

Supportive Care

Kidneys remove waste from the blood. When the organ fails or does not function at full capacity, toxins build up within the body and will need to be removed by other means. IV fluids help remove those toxins. Additional care may be recommended to reduce pain, ensure hydration, and treat anemia, depending on how quickly the cancer has spread.

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Recovery of Kidney Cancer in Dogs

If your dog successfully underwent surgery and had the affected kidney removed, your veterinarian will provide you with aftercare instructions to follow. Pain medication helps keep your dog comfortable during recovery, and antibiotics prevent infections. Administer all medication as directed by your veterinarian, and limit physical activity over the next two or three weeks to ensure that the surgical site heals properly. General blood work and ultrasounds or radiographs may be recommended as follow ups to monitor metastatic disease.

A combination of home and veterinary care is important, whether or not nephrectomy was performed. Though prognosis is poor for most malignant renal tumors, particularly those that affect both kidneys, you may still maintain your dog’s quality of life for the remaining months with your veterinarian’s help.

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Kidney Cancer Average Cost

From 2 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $16,000

Average Cost

$10,000

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Kidney Cancer Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Chihuahua

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Six Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Concave Chest

Cancer left kidney diagnosis this past Monday July 27th, 2020. Some how lethargic and no appetite. Xray clean on lungs. Ultrasound shows large tumor, but spleen, liver, and right kidney appear normal.

July 30, 2020

Owner

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Jessica N. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello- I’m sorry that your pet is going through this. Renal tumor’s are not super common in dogs and cats. The recommended treatment for a unilateral renal tumor is going to be nephrectomy where they remove the kidney. They will be able to submit it for histopathology. Histopathology will give information on the tumor type. The tumor type will help give you an idea on average survival time. If this is not something you are wanting to pursue there are palliative care options to help keep her comfortable. I’m very sorry. Take care!

July 30, 2020

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Lab terrier mix

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Eight Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Blood In Urine

Large mass on her liver and smaller mass on her kidney and spleen

July 11, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello, So sorry to hear about your dog. The mass on her kidney can be the cause of her urinating blood or she may have a urinary tract infection. It would be best to see you vet. They can help you distinguish between the two and start your dog on medication to help her feel a little better.

July 11, 2020

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Mix Lab/Terrier

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Eight Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Blood In Urine Occasionally Disinterested In Food

Sonogram showed large mass on her liver with smaller masses in her kidney and spleen. They talked surgery as an option but were not very optimistic. In your opinion would surgery help?

July 11, 2020

Owner

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Jessica N. DVM

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0 Recommendations

It is hard to say if surgery would be make a difference. A large part depends on what type of tumor it is. If your veterinarian is not very optimistic regarding proceeding with surgery I would agree. Unfortunately metastatic cancer in dogs usually has a poor prognosis. Take care!

July 11, 2020

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Major

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Golden Retriever

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9 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy

My 9-ish-year old Golden Retriever (He was a rescue so age isn't certain) was diagnosed with a huge tumor on his kidney in February, and despite concerns that he wouldn't make it through the surgery or it would affect his right kidney, he made it through and slowly seemed to be better - not totally himself, but better. We take him to the vet regularly for blood tests. He is on Palladia, one pill twice a week, two pills once a week. He also recently had an ultrasound and the saw a couple of spots but couldn't tell what they were exactly - more cancer? scarring? Inconclusive. However, in the last month, he's become increasingly lethargic. Eating is also a chore, we have to switch it up a lot as he becomes disinterested in kibble...then soft food. So we try chicken and pasta, etc. Lately, he mostly lays around. It takes some effort to get him up. But the eventually does and goes outside to urinate, etc. Walks, which he once loved, are hard now. He's incredibly slow. His blood tests are still good, via the vet. Also, he's sometimes lame on his right paw. It's not painful, and we've tried Lyme meds (he was once diagnosed with that...) but while it helps for a while, the lameness comes back. I read Palladia might cause that? I love this boy so much. Other than lethargy and very picky eating, he seems happy enough. I'm not sure what to do. He's on Palladia, Prilosec and Bendaryl for stomach issues and sometimes/rarely Tramadol for pain. Sometimes when he gets diarrhea, we use something else. Name escapes me.

Sept. 13, 2018

Major's Owner

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Dixie

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Labrador Retriever

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8 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Blood In Urine

Our black lab, Dixie was diagnosed with a "giant" mass attached to her kidney. The vet and specialist would like to remove it. They don't recommend a needle biopsy for fear it will start to bleed. They would like to take it out as one whole. It is growing up into her chest cavity, pushing at other organs. She is bright and loving, still loves to go for walks, eats, drinks, chases birds. I'm torn on what to do. I don't want her to suffer and she doesn't seem to be at the moment. I also don't want to put her through a big surgery if it will not add to her quality of life. Do I leave it and let her live out her days until she starts to show signs of discomfort/issues? Or do the surgery and nurse her back to health-however long that may take?

July 13, 2018

Dixie's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

From your description and Dixie’s breed I would opt for the surgery based on the information I know; your Veterinarian and the Specialist wouldn’t recommend the surgery if it would have an overall negative effect on her quality of life in the long term, the problem with these types of masses is you never know when it will become an issue. Also, once the mass is removed, histopathology may be done to better understand the type of mass. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 13, 2018

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Ollie

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Cyprus Heinz 57

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6 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Thirst, Frequent Urination

Ollie was diagnosed at the age of 3, 3 years ago with renal carcinoma and had the whole kidney removed. Prognosis was not good but the vet hoped he would have a good 6/12 months. But maybe longer. We are so pleased our boy has had this extra time and were just thinking it wasn’t coming back. Yesterday I felt a mass where his kidney used to be. Is this the cancer come back? I don’t want to put him through more surgery if a reoccurrence is meaning his time is limited. Not sure what the future holds now for our boy.

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Diego

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Pit bull

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13 Years

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Increased Thirst
Lethargy
Increased Urination
Tired
Bloody Urine

My dog Diego is 13 years old and has never been in great health since I rescued him at 3. He has tumors all over his body, and he started urinating blood this morning. Throughout the day it has gotten darker. He doesn't show any signs of irritation or pain from it though. I know he has a lot of health issues, and I'm starting to wonder if this is the beginning of the end for him.

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Lacey

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Siberian Husky , Labrador

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4 Years

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Critical severity

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1 found helpful

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Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Anorexia,Weak, Tired, Loose Stool

Our dog stopped eating 2 weeks ago i thought it was a blockage, believed she started eating a little, may have been wrong, upon xray we found out 2 glands above her heart was greatly enlarged , lymph nodes at jaw line enlarged as was behind her back leg. Blood work showed numbers about her kidneys was 12 i think normal was 2(?) , Dr gave her an IV of LR - We were guided that he prognosis was bad and she was very ill - we decided to put her to sleep. Did we rush in to this a little too fast ? without out enough research

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Brownie

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German Shepherd, hound, mix

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5 Years

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Depression
Limping
Uncontrollable Urination And Thirst
Not Eating Anything, Sad.
Couldn'T Jump In Car

My dog had a very quick experience with kidney cancer. The vet said there was nothing they could so but why is this site showing that there are treatments? I just wanted him to be okay, and we had to put him down...

Kidney Cancer Average Cost

From 2 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $16,000

Average Cost

$10,000

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