Stomach Tumors in Dogs

By Susan Lee

You never want to hear that your dog has a cancerous condition. Tumors, although not always cancerous, mostly develop in senior dogs. A tumor is a mass of abnormal growth that adheres itself to the abdomen or stomach lining. Most times, this tumor is merely a benign fatty mass that can easily be removed, allowing your dog a full recovery. If a biopsy has found the mass is malignant, veterinarians are optimistic about recovery, since the stomach area is delicate. Medications and following a special diet for your dog will be critical for maintaining his overall health and quality of life for his remaining days.


Abdominal tumors are common and may include hemangiosarcoma, mast cell tumors, lymphoma, prostate cancer, as well as tumors of the epithelial, glandular stomach lining, including non-cancerous polyps and malignant gastric adenocarcinomas. Talk openly with your vet about what he feels would be the best course of action for your beloved pet, as you consider your dog's age and post-surgery quality of life.


Cancer is often a culmination of a series of circumstances, according to the Dog Health Guide. The bacterium Helicobacter pylorus is the cause of a spectrum of abdominal disease, including the development of gastric adenocarcinoma. Certain foods, especially the additives to certain foods, are implicated to induce gastric adenocarcinomas. That is why it is so important to give your dog special foods without any additives or by-products that could be harmful.


Vomiting that sometimes contains blood occurs in almost all animals with gastric tumors. Other signs of cancer are weight loss, loss of appetite, diarrhea and blood in the feces, anorexia, diarrhea, ulceration and anemia. Be aware of lethargy, pale gums and abdominal enlargement.


Cancer is often suspected from the clinical signs including X-rays, which are useful in detecting the tumors. Blood tests can indicate if a tumor is bleeding internally. In order to identify the tumor, and its severity, a biopsy of that tumor is necessary. The tissue samples are submitted for microscopic examination. Biopsies alone are rarely diagnostic for cancer and examination of a larger surgical specimen from deeper tissue is usually needed. A pathologist may also need to do a histopathology (microscopic examination of specially prepared and a stained tissue sections). Your veterinarian may also conduct a test called a gastroscopy (where a flexible fibre-optic instrument is passed through the mouth, allowing the doctor to see whether there is any damage to the lining of the stomach). Various other degrees of surgical invasions, such as endoscopy and exploratory surgery, may be needed to get a definitive diagnosis.


Treatment for gastrointestinal tumors may include surgery, chemotherapy and administration of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Depending on the severity of the tumor in your own dog, sometimes the body's own immune system can kill cancer cells, but it is rarely 100 percent effective. The loss of blood supply to a cancer cell will make it die, but the dead tissue will still need to be surgically removed. Gastric polyps are non-cancerous and are usually cured by surgical removal. Unfortunately, most gastric adenocarcinomas have already spread locally by the time of surgery, making it more difficult to remove them. They can also spread within the inside lining of the abdomen, along with other parts of the body, including the lungs. Post-surgical survival times can take anywhere from one to three years.


There is no known preventative for stomach tumors. Monitoring your dog and providing all proper care, along with regular veterinarian supervision, will help your dog remain in good hands. Any changes to his health can then be immediately apparent. Proper diet is also critical. See "Resources" for valuable information regarding proper foods and supplements to provide your dog, which can help ward off tumors as well as other illnesses. A best choice in feeding your dog is always a holistic, all-natural approach, without additives and by-products.