Stomach Cancer in Dogs

Updated: November 10, 2022

Many forms of cancer in dogs are life-threatening and this includes stomach cancer in dogs. More than just a dog upset stomach, it can either be benign or malignant and can greatly spread to other parts of the body.

Learning that your precious dog has stomach cancer can feel devastating, but it doesn't exactly mean it's the end of the world already. So, what can you do about dog stomach cancer? At the end of this article, you'll learn about the various types of cancer in dogs that attack the stomach, the signs your dog might display, signs of a stomach tumor in dogs, as well as proper management in helping your dog deal with the pain.

The Gastrointestinal Tract

Your furbaby's gastrointestinal tract consists of many different organs. The GI tract runs from the mouth to the anus. This tract functions to be able to digest food and properly absorb nutrients to be distributed all throughout the body.

"The exact causes of stomach cancer in dogs are unknown. But factors like age, lifestyle, diet, poor nutrition, genetics, etc., can pre-dispose your furbaby into developing one."

The stomach is also a part of the GI tract that helps in the digestion processes. This extends to the small intestines, the colon that further breaks food into absorbable nutrients.

What Causes Stomach Cancer in Dogs?

The exact causes of stomach cancer in dogs are unknown. But factors like age, lifestyle, diet, poor nutrition, genetics, etc., can pre-dispose your furbaby into developing one.

Other dog breeds, too, are more prone than the others. These breeds include Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Chow-chows, and Belgian Shepherds. Senior dogs are also more at risk.

The Many Kinds of Dog Stomach Cancer

Lymphoma. This cancer begins in your dog's blood, in the white blood cells to be exact. Though lymphomas do not commonly affect the GI tract, in rare cases these can be in the form of a stomach tumor in dogs. The estimated incidence rate is 20–100 cases per 100,000 dogs for a stomach tumor in dogs.

Adenocarcinomas. This type of stomach cancer often begins in the glandular tissue (produces digestive juices to help breakdown food) and has the tendency to spread to other body parts like the liver and the lymph nodes. One study reported a male-to-female ratio of 17:7 for adenocarcinomas. Male dogs are more prone to this type of stomach cancer than female dogs.

Leiomyosarcomas. This type of cancer is in the form of tumors and often begins in the walls of the bladder, uterus, respiratory tract, and yes, the stomach. It only occurs in 35 out of 100,000 dogs, according to the National Canine Cancer Foundation (NCCF).

Mast Cell Tumors. For the record, mast cells are actually part of your furbaby's immune system. It functions whenever the body is inflamed or reacts to allergies. These cells are present in many different body parts like the nose, skin, lungs, and the GI tract. Cancer forms when these mast cells turn abnormal and create tumors.

These tumors actually release excessive amounts of the natural chemicals histamine and heparin (naturally produced by normal mast cells) and cause an overdose in your dog's body. Mast cell tumors are not unusual in dogs, about 90 dogs for every 100,000 dogs in any year, according to East Paulding Animal Hospital.

tumor on dogs stomach, signs of stomach cancer in dogs, stomach tumor in dogs

Primary Signs of Stomach Cancer in Dogs

What are the signs of stomach cancer in dogs? Stomach cancer in dogs is silent because signs and symptoms only begin to show by the time the cancer is already in its late stages. However, if you see these symptoms of stomach cancer in dogs, they should not be ignored. Look out for these signs:

Vomiting. Vomiting can be due to a dog upset stomach and one of the first symptoms of stomach cancer in dogs that you'll take note of. Sometimes, if your dog has stomach cancer, your dog's vomiting can even include blood and because the GI tract is out of control. With stomach cancer, your dog's body will be unable to digest food properly and absorb nutrients, leading to malnutrition, weight loss, and weakness.

Extreme pain. As expected, any type of cancer unfortunately brings pain, especially if there is a tumor on dogs stomach pressing or making eating uncomfortable. You will notice how uneasy your dog will become and may exhibit constant signs of discomfort like suddenly crying and whining with dog stomach cancer. If you notice that your furbaby is in pain, take them to the vet immediately where they can check for signs of stomach cancer in dogs or other illnesses.

Recurring sores. Sores can be normal for some dogs, especially for those who have skin allergies. But recurring sores that don't seem to get better are unusual. Stomach cancer in dogs can also be about wounds that don't seem to heal at all even with treatments.

Presence of unusual lumps and swellings. Lumps can be one of the signs of stomach cancer in dogs. One of the most recognizable signs of cancer in dogs is a mass, lump, or a bump that grows under the skin, particularly in the stomach area. If you notice that your dog has a mass on their stomach, it could be a symptom of stomach cancer in dogs and should be checked by a vet.

Appetite loss. Since your dog's GI tract functioning is a total mess with the presence of a stomach tumor in dogs, it will keep on pushing along the intestines that will make your dog feel unwell. This discomfort and pain will prevent your dog from having the urge to eat anything. So, a tumor on dogs stomach can quickly lead to appetite loss. For most dogs who love food, a loss of appetite can be one of the clear signs of stomach cancer in dogs for pet parents.

Energy loss. Cancer cells make use of glucose from carbs to form lactate. So, one of the symptoms of stomach cancer in dogs is a lack of energy. Lactate is difficult to absorb by the body that's why your dog will spend additional energy trying to turn lactate into a useful form. What a dramatic waste of energy.

dog stomach cancer symptoms, stomach cancer symptoms in dogs

Treatment and Management of a Dog's Stomach Cancer

As said, stomach cancer in dogs can be life-threatening but it certainly isn't the end of the world yet because you can do so many things to help your dog recover or at least make their life a little bit better.

Consult your vet. If you notice two or more of the primary signs mentioned above, it is time you go and see your vet. Your vet will perform tests on your dog to know what exactly they are going through. If there are is a tumor on dogs stomach or abnormal masses are present in the GI tract or in the stomach, it is a probability that your vet will suggest having it removed. Remove of the mass or stomach tumor in dogs can make it possible to undergo a biopsy to determine whether it's cancerous or not.

Chemotherapy for dogs. And if the results end up positive for cancer, there are chemotherapies available for dogs. But note that radiation can be harmful to your dog as it can have tremendous effects on sensitive organs surrounding the stomach. Consult your vet to find the best option for your dog if they do indeed have stomach cancer. They may refer you to a specialist or advise you on the risk and benefits of chemotherapy for your dog.

Nutritional support. Weight loss is common to any dog who is suffering from cancer. Being underweight, too, weakens the immune system. If your furbaby is going through cancer treatment, it's always important to provide them with the proper nutrition their body needs to gain weight and health back.

Alter your dog's diet... with your vet's approval of course. Stomach cancer will create a number of metabolic changes in your dog's body. Their old diet may or may not be suitable for them anymore, considering all other interventions like the medicines they are taking, the severity of cancer, and many others. A new diet can help a dog upset stomach or provide additional nutrients to help your dog feel better during this time.

Provide essential oils safe for dogs. Providing your dog food and supplements with essential oils, like omega-3 and omega-6, will help strengthen their immune system and help repress tumor growth. Please note that there are only certain essential oils safe for dogs. Do not give your furbaby any essential oils not approved by your veterinarian.

Administer Vitamin C. Is vitamin C good for dogs? Known to have antioxidant properties, Vitamin C for dogs is indeed good for them. It helps fight off free radicals and boosts your dog's immunity, too. Vitamin C for dogs acts as an antioxidant and can help boost energy levels as well.

Give Probiotics for Dogs. Natural probiotics for dogs will help your dog's stomach to get back to its shape. Probiotics for dogs consist of live microorganisms that may help synthesize important hormones that can support a furbaby's body system and help balance out the helpful and harmful bacteria.

How Can Pet Parents® Help with Dog Stomach Cancer?

Choosing the right supplements to help provide the right nutrition for your dog with stomach cancer can be overwhelming, but high-quality ones (just like the ones from Pet Parents®) will not give you any second thoughts.

dog supplements

Pet Parents® Skin & Coat SoftSupps® have anti-inflammatory benefits. Every dog should be on an omega 3 fatty acid supplement because it has been presented to help aid in decreasing inflammation and benefit organ function.

Also, Pet Parents® Probiotic SoftSupps® have Proprietary Probiotic Blend (Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactococcus lactis, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus fermentum, Lactobacillus brevis). Thes probiotic chews for dogs have a powerful Probiotic Blend that supports beneficial bacteria to improve digestion and nutrient absorption in dogs and strengthen immune function. These natural probiotics for dogs also help promote good gastrointestinal health for dogs. Please note that supplements are not the cure for stomach cancer. Unfortunately, no supplement will be able to cure cancer in dogs, however, they can assist with overall health and support. 

"A powerful Probiotic Blend that supports good bacteria to improve digestion and nutrient absorption and strengthen immune function."

While cancer in dogs can be stressful to deal with, there is no reason to go crazy with worry. There are still steps that you can take to help your dog with stomach cancer and deal with the symptoms of stomach cancer in dogs. Stay informed, observe your dog, talk to your vet, show your dog how much you love them. Have your vet check for a stomach tumor in dogs or signs of stomach cancer. By doing so, it will help you and your furbaby make the best of any situation.