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CBD And Lung Cancer In Dogs Explained

CBD and Lung Cancer in Dogs Explained

CBD and Lung Cancer in Dogs Explained


Let’s face it. No one’s ever prepared to hear that their dog has lung cancer. This devastating news will leave you confused with many questions.

Canine lung cancer is very aggressive. If the cancer spreads, chemotherapy and radiotherapy will need to be used.

The good news it that if lung cancer in dogs is caught early enough, it can sometimes be treated with surgery alone.

There has also been a lot of mounting evidence as to how cannabidiol (CBD) might be an effective treatment for dogs with lung cancer.

If you have recently been faced with the news that your dog has lung cancer, here are a few facts about lung cancer in dogs and some advice on how CBD may be able to help.




Why Has My Dog Developed Lung Cancer?

Lung cancer in dogs falls into two main types. Primary lung cancer is cancer that has originated in the lungs. Metastatic lung cancer is cancer that spreads to the lungs from another part of the body. Of the two, metastatic lung cancer is by far the most common in dogs. There are many other types of cancers that often rapidly spread to the lungs from another part of the body.


The reasons why a dog develops lung cancer are never straightforward. Scientists understand that cancer is damage to the cells caused by mutations, but they do not fully understand what triggers that mutation.


In the case of primary lung cancer, hereditary factors play a part in a pet’s likelihood of developing the disease. Environmental factors, such as exposure to chemicals and exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke, also plays a factor.


Statistics show clearly that dogs who live in a home where someone smokes will have a 60% risk of developing lung cancer.  Similar to with humans, second-hand smoke is a significant risk factor.


The breed is a risk factor as well. Dogs with small or medium-sized snouts are more prone to developing lung cancer than those with long snouts. This is because the nasal cavity of a dog with a shorter snout is less efficient at filtering out carcinogens.


What are the Signs and Symptoms of Lung Cancer in Dogs?

The symptoms that a dog with canine lung cancer will display will depend on the type of cancer. It will also depend on whether the cancer is present in other parts of the body as well. If the cancer is metastatic lung cancer, there will be other symptoms caused by the primary cancer that is present elsewhere in the dog’s body.


In the early stages of lung cancer in dogs, there may be no noticeable symptoms at all. The first signs that there is a problem could be a lack of energy and a loss of weight. If lung cancer in dogs is detected early, it can greatly improve the dog’s chances of survival, so it is very important that you have your dog checked out as soon as any of the symptoms appear. Here are the most common symptoms of lung cancer in dogs:


  • Coughing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unwillingness to exercise
  • Weight loss
  • Signs of blood in the stools or urine
  • Coughing blood
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Excessive sneezing
  • Lethargy and weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wasting of the muscles
  • Fever


The most common of all these symptoms is the coughing. A cough will be persistent, and it will be unproductive. There is also likely to be traces of blood in the mucus that is produced with a cough.


What Are the Stages of Canine Lung Cancer?

Most lung cancers in dogs are metastatic lung cancers. Primary lung cancer is quite rare. These four stages of canine lung cancer are as follows:


lung cancer in dogs stagesStage 1

Primary lung cancer in dogs is extremely aggressive. Spotting the early signs of the disease is very important. In the first stage, the dog will have developed a small tumor. This tumor will not have spread to any other organs in the body or to any nearby tissue. The first signs of stage 1 canine cancer are the loss of appetite, coughing, and possibly some coughing of blood. At this stage, the tumor can be removed by surgery.


Stage 2

In the second stage of canine lung cancer, there will be several tumors present. The tumors will be 5cm in length or less and they will cause breathing difficulties and more noticeable coughing. At this stage, surgery is still an option, but there will also need to be follow-up chemotherapy as well.


Stage 3

At stage three of the disease, several tumors will be present in the lungs. Many of them will be larger than 5cm. Nearby blood vessels and tissue will also have been affected by the tumors. The symptoms displayed by the dog at this stage will include breathing difficulties and coughing blood. At stage 3 of canine lung cancer, surgery is no longer a viable option, but chemotherapy may be used to prevent the further spread of the cancer. A lung transplant may be suggested, but this is a high-risk surgical procedure that is not always successful.


Stage 4

Sadly at stage 4, the dog will be very ill indeed, and the vet is likely to recommend euthanasia. The tumor will have metastasized to the lymph nodes, bones, chest and blood vessels. Now the dog is likely to be experiencing considerable pain and discomfort.


If left untreated, lung cancer in dogs will spread to other parts of the body in 2 to 10 months. However, if the tumors are detected and removed early, a total remission is possible.


RECOMMENDED: Liver Cancer In Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Treatments.


lung cancer in dogsWhy Are X-rays Important?

X-rays are the main tool used for diagnosing lung cancer in dogs. A vet will use X-rays of a dog’s chest to identify the presence of tumors and to check for the presence of fluid in the chest. A vet may also use abdominal X-rays to evaluate other organs in the dog’s body for evidence that the cancer has spread.


In some cases, a vet may recommend a CT scan, either in addition to X-rays or instead of them. This is because CT scans can provide detailed images that will allow a surgeon to accurately ascertain the size and the location of tumors.


Lung Cancer in Dogs – Available Treatments

Once a dog has been diagnosed with lung cancer, it is likely that the vet will refer the dog to a veterinary oncologist. There are three main treatments for lung cancer in dogs, which are surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy.


The treatments chosen for your dog will depend on the location, the size of the tumors, the extent of metastasis, and the stage of the cancer. Other important factors are the dog’s age and general health.


CBD and Lung Cancer in Dogs

There is growing evidence to suggest that CBD oil may have cancer-fighting properties, painkilling properties and the ability to treat other cancer symptoms such as nausea and loss of appetite. In addition, studies have shown that CBD can provide a much kinder cancer treatment than chemotherapy and radiotherapy.


A study published in the Biochemical Pharmacology Journal by a group of German researchers investigated the effect that cannabinoids have on lung cancer cells. The researchers found that CBD appears to make cancer cells more susceptible to attack by the body’s immune system.


It is important to understand that CBD, or cannabidiol, is nonpsychoactive. It’s a natural compound that’s found in hemp plants. CBD stimulates the endocannabinoid system in both humans and in animals, which can have wide-ranging beneficial effects and won’t make your dog “high”.


Many pet owners have testified as to the effectiveness of CBD to alleviate the symptoms of cancer in dogs. Also its ability to reduce the impact of the side effects of treatments like radiotherapy and chemotherapy. It’s also widely accepted by many experts to have pain-killing properties.


Although not many vets would recommend that you use CBD as an alternative to the current treatments of lung cancer, there is growing clinical and anecdotal evidence that CBD can treat the symptoms of cancer, reduce pain, reduce the side effects of cancer treatments, and possibly slow the growth and spread of cancer.


RELATED: Giving Your Dog CBD Oil? Here's The Full Truth


Scientific Research and Studies on CBD and Lung Cancer:

Below is a list of studies on CBD and it’s potential for use in treating lung cancer. Please note that most of these studies involve cannabinoid molecules, experimental animals, test tubes, and sometimes human cell-lined studies. It’s important to understand that all mammals including dogs, cats, rats, elephants, and humans have cannabinoid receptors which all work in the same way within our Endocannabinoid System.





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Marcin Ossowski

Marcin Ossowski is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles, California. He graduated from UCLA in 2007 with a major in linguistics and a minor in biology. During his time there, he undertook original research in neurolinguistics and cognitive science, specifically focusing on language disorders and dementia. Over the past decade, he has worked as a writer and researcher for several political consulting firms, taught English abroad in Poland, and ghostwritten two books. In his downtime, Marcin spends a lot of time outdoors and actively pursuing his passion for writing fiction, creative nonfiction, and satire.

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