Overview of Renal (Kidney) Neoplasia in Dogs
Renal neoplasia is cancer located in the kidney. Renal neoplasia can originate in the kidney (primary) or spread or metastasize to the kidney from another site (secondary). Most renal tumors are seen in middle aged to older dogs and cats. Nephroblastomas, rapidly developing malignant tumors, are seen in younger animals. Carcinomas are thought to be more prevalent in the male dog.
Generally, there are no specific causes of cancer identified and cancer of the kidney is rare in dogs and cats. Renal cystadenocarcinoma, a type of cancer with extensive cyst formation, appears to be inherited in the German shepherd dog.
What to Watch For
Early in the illness, many individuals do not show any clinical signs. However, later signs include:
Blood in the urine
Excessive drinking and urinating
In cases of cystadenocarcinomas, watch for multiple skin nodules over the head, neck and extremities.
Diagnosis of Renal Neoplasia in Dogs
Complete blood count (CBC)
Urine culture and sensitivity
Abdominal exploratory and biopsy
Treatment of Renal Neoplasia in Dogs
Hospitalization and support as needed, including fluid therapy and blood transfusions
Nephrectomy, or the surgical removal of the kidney and associated tumor, if it occurs in only one kidney
Home Care and Prevention
Administer medication and diet as directed by your veterinarian. Return for follow-up as directed.
Prognosis varies depending on the tumor type and ability to surgically remove the tumor. There is no known prevention of renal cancer.
In-depth Information on Canine Renal Neoplasia
Primary renal neoplasia, or cancer that originates in the kidney, is rare in the dog, accounting for less than 2.5 percent of all tumors. The most common tumors in dogs in descending order are renal carcinoma, transitional cell carcinoma, renal adenoma, sarcoma, nephroblastoma, lymphoma and fibroma. The majority of tumors seen are malignant, and metastatic tumors that spread from another place are more common than primary tumors. There are a host of possible presentations associated with renal tumors.
Individuals may have no clinical signs early in the disease process. The classic triad of physical findings in cats and dogs with renal tumors includes abdominal mass, weight loss, and in a subset of cases, blood in the urine (hematuria), although abdominal and/or back pain is not uncommon. Anemia (low red blood cell count) and renal failure (azotemia) are not uncommonly found in these patients, especially when both kidneys are involved. Depending on the specific case, specific diagnostics and therapeutics would be recommended and tailored to the individual.
Several diseases and disorders have similar symptoms to renal neoplasia. These include:
Pyelonephritis, or an infection of the kidney
Hydronephrosis, which is the enlargement of the pelvis of the kidney with urine, as a result of obstruction of the ureter – the tiny tubular structure that allows the passage of urine from the kidney to the urinary bladder
Renal hematomas or blood clots secondary to trauma
Ethylene glycol toxicosis after ingestion of antifreeze that causes bilateral kidney enlargement (renomegaly) due to the formation of calcium oxalate crystals, which are particles that form in the kidneys from antifreeze
Leptospirosis, an infectious disorder that causes bilateral renomegaly and renal failure in dogs
Urolithiasis (stones) anywhere throughout the urinary tract, especially in the kidney
Chronic renal failure associated with or as a result of renal neoplasia
Renal abscesses, or localized pockets of pus within the kidney, that usually cause unilateral renomegaly in cats and dogs.
Perirenal pseudocysts, the accumulation of fluid between the kidney and its surrounding capsule.
Glomerulonephritis, which is an inflammation of the glomeruli of the kidney
Amyloidosis, which is the deposition or collection of a type of protein in organs and tissues that compromises normal function
Other abdominal masses in the pancreas, ovaries, liver or adrenal glands that can cause abdominal distension and similar signs
Other causes of abdominal discomfort, including pancreatitis and peritonitis, which is inflammation of the abdominal cavity
Disorders associated with back pain such as intervertebral disc protrusion or a spinal infection or tumor
Disorders that cause excessive thirst and urination to include hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s disease), diabetes mellitus and liver disease
Coagulopathies, or clotting disorders, such as thrombocytopenia (decreased platelet count) or warfarin toxicity (rat poison), that cause bloody urination
Polycythemia is a disorder that causes the red blood cell count to rise. It can be a primary or secondary disorder, and is occasionally seen associated with some renal tumors.