Signs & Symptoms of Throat Cancer in Dogs

By Jane Meggitt

Throat cancer in dogs consists of cancers of the larynx and trachea. Fortunately, these cancers are relatively rare. Several different types of tumors can affect the throat, including _chondrosarcoma, mast cell tumors, squamous cell carcinoma, extramedullary plasmacytomas, laryngeal oncocytomas, osteosarcoma_ and lymphoma. Your dog's prognosis depends on the type of tumor and whether it has spread, or metastasized. Some tumors, such as osteosarcomas, or bone cancers, metastasize to the throat from the primary site.

Throat Cancer Symptoms

Symptoms of laryngeal throat cancer include:

  • Changes in the sound of the bark.
  • Hoarseness.
  • Exercise intolerance.
  • Laryngitis.
  • Breathing difficulties.
  • Noisy breathing, especially including a high pitch.
  • Coughing.

Symptoms of tracheal throat cancer also include the last three symptoms, and possibly coughing up blood.

Any breed of dog may develop throat cancer, but male dogs have a higher incidence than females. These cancers usually occur in dogs middle age and older.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Your vet will conduct standard blood and urine tests on your dog, along with X-rays and magnetic resonance imaging of the throat. If the tumor is laryngeal, she'll perform an endoscopy on your pet to view the tumor and take a sample for a biopsy. If it's tracheal, she may have to use a rigid bronchoscope or fiber optic device to biopsy the growth. Another alternative is a surgical biopsy, in which the throat is opened to extract the biopsy sample.

For either type of tumor, treatment initially consists of surgical removal. If the tumor is benign, no further treatment is necessary. Dogs with laryngeal tumors may lose their bark, although veterinary surgeons do their best so the animal can retain this capacity. If the tumor is cancerous, your vet may recommend radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Unfortunately, if the tumor has spread, your dog's long-term prognosis isn't good. He may survive just a few months.