National Greyhound Adoption Program's clinic, Dutton Road Veterinary Clinic, probably sees more greyhounds than any other clinic in the United States. Because we see so many greyhounds, we believe it is always worthwhile to post information to the greyhound community regarding greyhound health issues. We have gotten wonderful feedback and letters of appreciation from people around the world who visit our website and read our articles. Below is yet another....
Lung Cancer in Greyhounds and Other Canines
By David G. Wolf, NGAP Director
Posted: January 7, 2016
After adopting and caring for greyhounds over the last 25 years, it is rare to see greyhounds in clinic with a primary diagnosis of lung cancer. Most often cancer in the lungs is the secondary clinical sign that we see, and usually in conjunction with osteosarcoma. I have said so many times before and will repeat it once again for emphasis, if your dog is diagnosed with osteosarcoma, 99% of the time you will initially get a clean chest x-ray but almost 100% of the time, the cancer will ultimately metastasize in the lungs. Is it worth spending that money for the chest x-ray? I am not quite sure, as the results always seem to be the same.
Carlos was born in March of 2004. He was one of thirteen galgos, or Spanish greyhounds, that my wife and I hand-raised in our home. Galgos don't race, but are used for hunting, and although many are killed after the hunting season, they make wonderful pets. Carlos lived a beautiful life in New York until he started to gag when eating. His appetite decreased and his owners were concerned there was something in his throat.
Carlos presented in early December with what appeared to be an acid reflux-type cough/gag along with loss of appetite. This very large-framed, 100lb dog, was down to 88lbs and he seemed agitated. His heart was pounding very loudly. Our veterinarian decided to take chest x-rays. The following image was taken:
Carlos was given Rimadyl to keep him comfortable.
Three months later in March, Carlos returned to our clinic because he was eating even less and had lost an additional 7lbs. He was scheduled for x-rays, an ultrasound and bloodwork. We chose to do the x-rays first. Sadly, the x-ray clearly showed that he had advanced stage lung cancer. While it was not possible to determine where the cancer of origin was located, the x-ray depicts a larger tumor in the caudal dorsal area. It is a ping-pong ball sized mass and may have very well been the primary lung tumor.
Carlos's owners chose to have him euthanized that day because they knew that his quality of life would only continue to decline each day that passed. We did not do a necropsy on this dog so we are unable to say for certain whether the primary cancer was in the dog's lungs or possibly another organ.
When we cannot conclusively determine what is going on in an animal, we treat the symptoms as best we can and as quickly as we can and do not withhold treatment because of the lack of a specific diagnosis. Hopefully, doctors and pet owners realize that when you are unable to mitigate symptoms, you almost always have a more serious underlying problem with your dogs internal organs which may call for extensive expenditure for diagnostic testing or an exploratory surgery.
Could we have changed the outcome of this particular dog from its initial visit? I doubt that it would have been possible. Could we have potentially extended the quality of life of a symptomatic dog? Possibly.
Always be sure to pay attention to the signals your dog gives you and relay those symptoms to your veterinarian. Together, you can come up with the treatment plan appropriate for your pet. Sooner is always better than later.