Golden Retriever Cancer: Types, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

Golden Retriever Cancer: Types, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment & Survival Rate

Last Updated: March 31, 2023

According to a study done by GRCA (Golden Retriever Club of America), 60% of golden retrievers die from cancer. 

If we divide it gender-wise then 66% of male golden retrievers die from cancer as compared to female golden retrievers which is 57%.

Owning a golden retriever dog is like adding sunshine to your every moment. 

But these cute goldens are most vulnerable to cancer. 

Now that you know the stats make sure that while having quality moments with your golden puppies, don’t ignore the warning signs that your poodle might be experiencing.

If you are planning to bring in a baby golden retriever or you already have one, you should be aware of possible health risks that are associated with this particular breed. 

Don’t be fooled by its uninterrupted energetic approach, instead focus on certain signs of cancer in golden retrievers which are already screaming for immediate medical attention.

To help you understand your golden retriever health problems we have discussed each type of cancer, its symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment in detail so that you can extend the lifespan of your furry friend.

Let’s look at them in detail.

4 Most Common Types Of Cancer In Golden Retriever

Lymphoma In Golden Retriever

Lymphoma Cancer In Golden Retriever

Developing lymphoma in your golden retriever is mostly genetic or the same environment or food habit you are sharing.

Stemming from the lymphocytes, this cancer mostly damages the lymph nodes, spleen, and bone marrow.

Check out for the alarming signs like fever, swollen and painless lymph nodes, and lumps before it aggravates further and affects other organs of your dog.

What Causes Lymphoma In Dogs

  • Exposure to chemical and environmental factors like solvents and paints.
  • Increased rate of lymphocytes in the lymph nodes, spleen, and bone marrow.
  • Breed quality plays a pivotal role in developing lymphoma for large dogs like golden retriever dogs, bulldogs, boxers, and Scottish terriers.
  • Prolonged period of toxic air inhalation.
  • Living in electromagnetic or radioactive areas.

Early Signs Of Lymphoma In Golden Retrievers

  • Lymphoma in golden retrievers is characterized by swollen and painless lymph nodes.
  • The warning signs of Multicentric Lymphoma are fever, lethargy, dehydration, and weakness.
  • In the case of Alimentary Lymphoma, your poodle may experience diarrhea, sudden weight loss, abdominal pain, and vomiting.
  • To know if your canine is developing Mediastinal Lymphoma, check out for signs like heavy breathing which is due to the accumulation of fluid or heavy mass in the chest.
  • Dogs with Mediastinal Lymphoma may also have swollen faces or limbs as the growing mass blocks the normal fluid circulation.
  • Cutaneous Lymphoma is the most common type of cancer in golden retrievers, which you can easily identify if your dog starts showing red patches and flaky skin.

Cancer Diagnosis For Lymphoma In Dogs

Are you caring enough about your golden retriever dog?  

An alarming study has claimed that nearly 60% of the retrievers are exposed to the risk of developing Lymphoma, a common canine cancer.

To prevent the condition from aggravating, you can check for rubbery lumps of the lymph nodes, jaws, and knees. 

If you notice such warning signs, rush immediately for a medical diagnosis.  

  • The first thing a vet performs is stage testing to trace the current status of the condition if nascent or critical.
  • After detection, a Tru-cut needle biopsy is done to remove a part of the affected organ or the entire lymph node for cytology evaluation to help determine the treatment.

Treatment of Lymphoma & Golden Retriever Survival Rate

After the vet confirms Lymphoma and its extent in your pet, the next step is to proceed with the treatment. 

But if you have a golden retriever, then you must be concerned about its adoption due to its higher risk of developing cancer.

  • Chemotherapy is still the most prescribed way to treat lymphoma based on its stage, age, and other medical condition of the dog.
  • Another inexpensive drug cure is Prednisone that needs strict medical supervision.

If your golden retriever is diagnosed with lymphoma then you will be happy to know that with proper treatment, their survival rate is comparatively better than other cancer.

Unfortunately, the search for a permanent cure is still on.

Osteosarcoma In Golden Retriever

Osteosarcoma Cancer In Golden Retriever

Osteosarcoma is commonly known as bone cancer in dogs and it is an extremely painful condition in the canine. 

According to Colorado State University, 85% of dogs get bone cancer, and in 80% of cases, bone cancer or Osteosarcoma spread to the lungs.

You should be concerned if owning a golden retriever, as Osteosarcoma mostly targets the skeletal health of large dog breeds.

Characterized by swelling of the bones, this cancer destroys the limbs, skull, ribs, pelvis, and vertebrae and in worst cases may damage the lungs of goldens.

What Causes Osteosarcoma In Dogs

  • Genetic modification.
  • Prolonged exposure to cancer-causing agents and polluted industrial air.
  • Ignored and old injuries and cracks.
  • Spaying may also adversely impact your dog’s overall skeletal health.
  • Overweight dogs are at high risk of developing bone cancer.
  • Hereditary factor.
  • Nearly 20-50% of male dogs are prone to developing osteosarcoma than the female canine.
  • Faster growth rate.

Early Signs Of Osteosarcoma In Golden Retrievers

  • Check out for early signs like soft swelling in the skeletal parts of your dog before the pain turns unbearable.
  • This soft swelling of the bone is termed a bone tumor that mostly grows on the limbs, skull, ribs, and other bony areas.
  • If your all-time energetic retriever suddenly becomes lethargic or shows no interest in food, consider a whole body check-up immediately.
  • Your dog may also start limping while walking or playing as this painful tumor mostly targets the limbs.
  • These malignant tumors are extremely painful for your pet to bear if not treated on time.
  • The growing pain of Osteosarcoma will turn your dog aggressive due to lack of sleep.

Cancer Diagnosis For Osteosarcoma In Dogs

Besides arthritis, Osteosarcoma in dogs is rising at an alarming rate. 

Characterized by painful swelling of the limbs, osteosarcoma mostly affects the skeletal health of the large dog. 

So if your energetic retriever is suddenly limping while walking, then osteosarcoma could be the reason.

  • In this case, the diagnosis begins with a full-body scan of your golden retriever to estimate the spread.
  • X-rays of the affected parts are done to understand the extent of the malignant tumors.
  • Vets also collect the affected cells through a syringe commonly known as a fine-needle aspiration for microscopic study.
  • Doctors may perform surgery to remove the tumor based on the overall medical condition of the dog only after heavy sedation.

Treatment of Osteosarcoma & Golden Retriever Survival Rate

This painful bone tumor in giant dogs can claim life if left unnoticed and untreated. 

When your highly energetic retriever develops swelling limbs and limping due to pain, you get your dog clinically tested.

Osteosarcoma in golden retrievers when treated on time has a survival rate of 12- 25% for 2 years from the time of treatment.

  • For small limb tumors, doctors preferred to get them surgically removed through limb amputation.
  • Radiation and chemotherapy are also applied ways to destroy cancer cells and in reducing the pain.

It has been observed that younger golden dogs with osteosarcoma respond better to the treatment than the older ones due to their weak and damaged bones.

Hemangiosarcoma In Golden Retriever

Hemangiosarcoma Cancer In Golden Retriever

One of the most threatening health conditions in dogs that can also prey on your poodle. 

Hemangiosarcoma develops when the cells found in the lining of the blood vessels start clotting to form malignant tumors. 

The alarming part is such tumors can develop anywhere in the body besides their primary targets like the skin, spleen, heart, and liver.

What Causes Hemangiosarcoma In Dogs

  • Excess exposure to sunlight of light-colored and thin coated dogs.
  • Abnormal growth of blood vessel lining cells.
  • Strike dogs above 8 years old and especially the larger canine breeds like German Shepherd and Golden Retrievers.
  • Susceptible genetic disorders. 
  • Also varies on gender as male dogs are most vulnerable in developing Hemangiosarcoma compared to the female.
  • Exposure to hazardous chemicals.

Early Signs Of Hemangiosarcoma In Golden Retrievers

  • Look out for dark red to purple colored bumps on your retriever’s abdominal areas.
  • Hemangiosarcoma in golden retriever dogs can appear anywhere internally in the form of soft or firm tumors.
  • Your retriever may develop an abnormally swollen abdomen as the tumor mostly occur in the spleen and may enlarge over time.
  • If Hemangiosarcoma grows in the heart, your golden may experience difficulty in breathing and will avoid any playful activities.
  • Unexplained weightless and panting are also some major warning signs that you should not ignore.
  • Check your retrievers’ oral health as pale gums may be the primary symptom of Hemangiosarcoma.
  • Other alarming signs are loss of appetite and lower energy level due to blood loss.

Cancer Diagnosis For Hemangiosarcoma In Dogs

Hemangiosarcoma is, unfortunately, more common in retrievers than in other canines. 

In this condition, malignant tumors are formed in the blood vessel lining with no external warning signs.

As a dog owner you will be scared to know that in this condition, your pet suffers from severe blood loss internally. 

As mentioned earlier, whenever you notice your dog behaving unusual, a full-body scan is the best thing to consider.

  • The detection and confirmation of Hemangiosarcoma cancer are done after collecting the blood samples and getting them tested by a pathologist to trace any malformed vessels and internal hemorrhage.
  • Fine needle biopsy of the spleen is also a popular cancer detection process in dogs.

Treatment of Hemangiosarcoma & Golden Retriever Survival Rate

One of the most unpredictable canine cancers mostly gets detected in its advanced stage with no significant cures.

This fast-spreading cancer badly affects the spleen and heart in large dog breeds like the Golden Retrievers with 1 case among 5, German Shepherd, Labradors, and the likes. 

To stop this condition from turning life-threatening, you must take your retriever for a check-up once every 3 months.

  • If diagnosed early, your dog may have a chance of an extended survival period with better quality of life through chemotherapy.
  • Doctors may also opt for high-risk heart surgery to remove the tumor or the entire spleen only after studying your dog’s health and healing capacity.

Mast Cell Tumors (MCTs) In Golden Retriever 

Mast Cell Tumors (MCTs) In Golden Retriever

Are you feeling any bumpiness while patting your golden retriever? 

Consult a vet immediately, it could be the sign of mast cell tumors. 

Found in the body tissues, mast cells form tumors when they release excess histamine to defend against any allergic reaction. 

MCTs can appear anywhere in the body, including the liver, gastrointestinal tract, and bone marrow.

What Causes Mast Cell Tumors In Dogs

  • The hereditary link cannot be ignored.
  • Prolonged exposure to poor air quality in industrial areas.
  • Associated environmental risks.
  • Formation of malignant tumors due to excess release of histamine during an allergic reaction.
  • Genetic factor is also a positive contributor.
  • Few scientists have confirmed the unusual pattern of KIT protein behind the growth of mast cell tumors (MCTs) in dogs.

Early Signs Of Mast Cell Tumors In Golden Retrievers

  • Mast cell tumor in dogs is characterized by lumps and ulcerated bumps beneath the skin.
  • Your golden retriever may severely scratch the skin that may bruise the tissue beneath.
  • The lymph nodes may appear swollen due to tumor growth.
  • As the condition worsens, your dog will give up on food or may experience chronic diarrhea.
  • Check out for the wounds or bruises that show no signs of healing.
  • The MCTs are variable in size, which may enlarge or shrink with time.
  • Unexplainable changes in weight is another warning sign of golden retriever cancer.
  • If your poodle is releasing black and tarry stools for almost a week, consult a vet as soon as possible.

Cancer Diagnosis For Mast Cell Tumors In Dogs

Mast cell tumor in dogs is a very common condition that may turn malignant with mutation. 

Again a condition that mostly affects the retrievers and other mixed breeds.

You can easily detect these darkened tumors in your dog that appears as raised lumps under their skin. 

These tumors may grow, wane or vanish completely depending on the properties of the cells. 

Filled with histamine, these mast cells hold a potential threat to other organs when such bioactive substance mixes up with the bloodstream.

The trusted way of MCT diagnosis is a fine needle biopsy of the lesion in your dog to gather a few samples of the tumors for a pathological test before the final confirmation.

Treatment Of Mast Cell Tumors & Golden Retriever Survival Rate

Mast cell tumors are common in dogs and are formed beneath the skin with no serious health threat unless malignant. 

No matter how much you spend on the treatment, only diagnosing on time can extend your dog’s life expectancy.

  • After detecting the tumors and their grade, doctors may perform surgery to completely remove the tumors before they could affect the other tissues.
  • In the case of stage 2 tumors, if examined cancerous, veterinarians may give small doses of radiation therapy to destroy the cells from spreading.
  • But when the condition aggravates in the case of stage 3, chemotherapy is performed with certain drugs to slow down the spreading and reducing the size of the tumors.

Final Thoughts

As you have noticed that parenting dogs especially golden retrievers need knowledge and patience to deal with uncertain times. 

Though retrievers are the most potential for cancer, that cannot be the reason to ignore the irresistible golden puppies.

Though there is no permanent cure to any canine cancer, you can still extend your dog’s survival chances than delaying. 

Understanding the warning signs of cancer in a golden retriever and opting for early diagnosis can save you from bidding final adieu to your pet. 

So next time if your golden behave unusual, rush to a vet for an immediate check-up.

We hope this blog has answered all your questions related to golden retriever cancer. 

Further Reading:

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