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What is Complete Lung Lobectomy?

A lung is divided into several 'lobes', which are structures designed to help maximize the surface area of the organ (which allows the animal to get more oxygen into their bloodstream per breath) whilst also allowing maximum flexibility for expanding and contracting during the process of breathing. However, when a lung becomes too badly diseased or damaged, it may be necessary for the worst-affected lobe to be entirely removed - a process referred to as a 'lobectomy'. There are several conditions that may prompt a vet to remove a lobe of the lung, though the procedure is generally regarded as a last resort after other methods of treatment have either failed or been discounted.

Complete Lung Lobectomy Procedure in Dogs

In preparation for the lobectomy, the vet will comprehensively map the interior of the dog's chest using x-rays and ultrasounds, to make sure they cut through the lung as precisely as possible and remove all the damaged tissue. Prior to the procedure, the dog will be placed under general anesthetic and have an area of their chest shaved and cleaned where the incision will be. The most common form of lobectomy involves making an incision on the flank of the animal between two ribs. The ribs are then moved further apart and the surgeon operates through the resulting hole. The lung is cut at the junction between the lobes and the unwanted tissue is extracted through the incision, at which point the lung is cauterized and sewn up, along with the hole in the dog's side. A chest tube may be left implanted in the dog in order to drain any fluid that builds up inside the chest.

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Efficacy of Complete Lung Lobectomy in Dogs

Generally speaking, the removal of a diseased lung lobe will halt the underlying condition in its tracks. Providing that proper aftercare procedures are observed, then there should be no resurgence of infection or debilitation. Although the dog may have a slightly decreased level of cardiovascular capability, they should no longer have difficulties breathing. Whilst there are alternative treatments available for infections and cancers (antibiotics and radiotherapy, respectively) which enjoy relatively high rates of success, they will usually have failed by the time the lobectomy is recommended by the vet.

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Complete Lung Lobectomy Recovery in Dogs

Following surgery, it will be necessary for the dog's owner to administer a regular dosage of painkillers and antibiotics for the duration of the healing process. In most otherwise healthy animals it will take roughly three to four weeks to recover from the surgery, though older and more infirm dogs may need longer to recuperate. The activity levels of the dog should be restricted as much as possible, as this will help lower the possibility of re-opening the incision and will conserve energy during recovery. It will be necessary to visit the vet a few weeks after the procedure in order to have the drainage tube removed from the dog's chest.

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Cost of Complete Lung Lobectomy in Dogs

The price of a complete lung lobectomy for a dog can be especially high due to the intricate nature of the procedure. Most vets will charge anywhere between $2,000 and 3,000 depending on the condition and age of the dog. For this reason, many owners will opt to continue alternative treatment methods such as antibiotics (which will typically cost less than a few hundred dollars) or radiotherapy (which will often run into the high hundreds).

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Dog Complete Lung Lobectomy Considerations

It will be necessary to put the dog under a general anesthetic in order to perform the operation. Due to the already compromised nature of the dog's lungs, this additional stress can sometimes prove dangerous - especially in older animals. It is also possible that the dog could pick up a new infection from the surgical wound, though maintaining a clean living environment and providing a course of antibiotics to the dog can mitigate the risk of this.

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Complete Lung Lobectomy Prevention in Dogs

Many conditions that will eventually require a complete lung lobectomy to be performed are caused by the inhalation of foreign objects and particles. Fungal spores, hostile bacteria and sharp objects that gouge the lining of the lungs are all picked up as the dog goes about its daily routine. In order to lessen the chances of this happening, owners should make sure that their dog's living environment is kept as sanitary as possible. It is also advisable to closely monitor a dog's behavior when outdoors, as this provides a prime opportunity for it to accidentally inhale objects when sniffing around. Unfortunately, most cancers are difficult to predict and prevent. Although, it is possible to detect them in their early stages by taking note of changes in a dog's behavior and body language.

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Complete Lung Lobectomy Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Chiweenie

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11 Years

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Coughing, Occasional Bloody Mucus Coughed Up

My 11 year old Chiweenie needs a lung lobectomy and one vet said dog's tend to continue living a good quality of life post-surgery. Another said she estimates he will live about a year more post-surgery. My concern is what his lifespan will be and what the consequences of surgery are? I'm willing to pay the $10k for surgery, but am concerned about what comes after surgery and who to believe about how long he may live. He is otherwise a healthy senior dog.

July 17, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. I'm sorry that you and your dog are going through this. The prognosis for a lung lobectomy really depends on the cause of the problem to begin with, honestly. For me to comment on this I would need to know a lot more about your dog and the situation, unfortunately. If you are not sure of the advice that you are getting, it may be best to get another opinion, and that is a big commitment and knowing what to expect is icritical. I might ask each veterinarian what it is they're basing their decision of post-operative prognosis on, as they are so dramatically different. I hope that you are able to make the right decision for him, and that he is better soon.

July 17, 2020

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Chloe

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Basset Beagle

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13 Years

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Non Productive Cough 5-6 Times Day

Our 13 year old Basset Beagle mix was just diagnosed with a primary lung tumor. She also has significant arthritis but doesn’t really show any symptoms of the arthitus except some back leg weakness at the end of the day. (She also had a ruptured vertebrae when she was 8 and had surgery to fix it.) other wise she had been healthy. Her symptoms were a persistent non productive cough (for 3-4 months, not every day, but some days 5-6 times a day) and she isn’t lethargic but def tires out more easily. I am contemplating surgery but haven’t got the call back for on appointment with the oncologist yet. We have so many questions and fears... I have a photo of the X-rays if there is a place I can send them. Our vet said he believes it’s about 4x6cm in her Right Caudle lobe (sry if spelled wrong). I would like to know the normal survival rate for surgery, rate of complications, when the most complications occur (during surgery, during recovery, home after surgery), what the top complications are? How do they check her lympnodes before surgery ? (will it show up in her X-rays or CT).

June 18, 2018

Chloe's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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The questions that you are asking really vary depending on the surgeon and the type of tumor that Chloe has. That type of surgery does come with risks, as does any surgery, but if you are able to have the mass removed, that will give the best possible outcome for her. They will probably take samples of her lymph nodes before and during surgery to give you a better idea as to whether it has spread, but most primary lung tumors don't tend to metastasize. You will have a much better idea as to what to expect once you have the appointment with the oncologist and they can answer those questions for her specifically. I hope that everything goes well for her!

June 18, 2018

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Riley

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Beagle

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11

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Coughing, Uncomfortable Laying

My 11 year old beagle has a 4 inch long mass nears his left lung/ribs and it's dangerously close to the main blood vessel to the heart. They will go in through the ribs. He will have it removed this week. Fingers crossed with anesthisia as he has the beginning stages of heart disease, but that has been stable for several years. If all goes well in the surgery and immediate post-op chest drainage, what is the best case estimate that he would need to stay in ICU before coming home?

March 12, 2018

Riley's Owner

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This is not a straightforward surgery and is highly invasive, you should discuss this with your Veterinarian as they would be in a better position to answer this than myself; sometimes a few days is sufficient whilst a few weeks if there are complications. I cannot really commit to any specific number of days not knowing the case. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

March 12, 2018

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Bowzer

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English Bulldog

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5 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Labor Breathing

My beloved Bowzer had been acting stranger after my tonsilectomy. I took him to the vet and assumed it was the doggie flu. Sure enough it turned out to be a huge mass that needs the complete removal of his left lung. Can a do live with one lung? Secondly they found another mass in the abdomen. He is still eating chicken and white rice and some days r better than others. But he has labored breathing on and off. Am i making him suffer to get a lobectomy. Is there any hope? He has never been sick until this came up. Please help me.

March 6, 2018

Bowzer's Owner

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Lung lobectomy is the removal of a lobe of the lung, not an entire lung and is the treatment of choice for solitary lung tumours; however the mass in the abdomen is concerning as there are two potential sites. Bowser is still young, but without examining him and seeing his x-rays etc… I cannot say whether surgery is an option for him or not, your Veterinarian would be able to guide you better in this instance. If you are looking for a second opinion, tele-medicine companies like PetRays can offer second opinions by board certified Oncologists if you are looking for an in depth opinion. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.petrays.com www.merckvetmanual.com/dog-owners/lung-and-airway-disorders-of-dogs/cancers-and-tumors-of-the-lung-and-airway-in-dogs#v3206576

March 6, 2018

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Brandi

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Pomeranian

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15 Years

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Critical severity

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Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Dyspnea S/P Lobectomy.

My 15 year old Pom - Brandi had a lung lobectomy on Wednesday. I brought her home on Friday. She wasn't "breathing right" when I took her home. It got a little better but then worse and I took her back to the Emergency Vet on Sat night. They kept her overnight and put her on oxygen and gave her sedation. I called the next morning and could hear her barking. 30 minutes later the vet called back to say she was performing CPR on my dog! I did not know DEATH was a complication with this surgery. Brandi did have upper and lower airway disease and was on Theophylline, but it was well controlled (usually) I blame myself for her death. I feel like if I didn't take her to surgery she would still be here with me. Can you help me understand why this happened?

Jan. 21, 2018

Brandi's Owner

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I understand that this is a distressing time but there is a risk of death in the most routine procedure but with modern anaesthetics, techniques and perioperative management these risks are reduced significantly; however, any time you take in a pet to have a surgery done (even a dental cleaning) you would be asked to sign a liability waiver since there are risks outside of the Veterinarian’s control especially in older pets. A lung lobectomy is a major surgery requiring the opening of the thoracic cavity (chest), couple this with Brandi’s age and the surgical risk would be higher than other surgeries; if you feel that the risks were not explained to you in full, consult the Veterinarian regarding this. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Jan. 22, 2018

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