Mesothelioma in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

Greetings pet lovers and concerned dog owners! Today, we delve into a serious health issue that affects our furry friends: mesothelioma. This rare and aggressive cancer is becoming more common in dogs, and it’s essential to understand this disease to protect our beloved pets.

What is Mesothelioma in Dogs?

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that affects the mesothelium, a thin layer of tissue that lines the chest and abdominal cavity. In dogs, mesothelioma commonly affects the lining of the chest (pleural mesothelioma) and the abdominal cavity (peritoneal mesothelioma).

This disease is caused by exposure to asbestos, a mineral widely used in construction materials, insulation, and other products. When asbestos fibers are inhaled or ingested, they can lodge in the lining of the lungs, abdomen, or heart and cause inflammation and scarring over time. Over several years or decades, the affected area can develop cancerous growths known as mesothelioma.

What are the Symptoms of Mesothelioma in Dogs?

The symptoms of mesothelioma in dogs can vary depending on the location and severity of the cancer. However, some common signs include:

Signs and Symptoms Description
🦁 Difficulty breathing As cancerous growths spread in the chest or abdomen, they can compress the lung or other organs and make it hard for your dog to breathe normally. Your dog may pant excessively, cough, or gasp for air.
🦁 Lethargy Dogs with mesothelioma may feel weak, tired, or unwilling to move around as much as they used to. They may also sleep more than usual and seem less interested in playing or exercising.
🦁 Decreased appetite Cancer can affect your dog’s digestive system and cause nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Your dog may also lose weight or have a poor appetite due to pain or discomfort.
🦁 Swelling or lumps If mesothelioma affects the abdominal cavity, it can cause fluid buildup (ascites) or tumors that press against the organs and skin. Your dog may have a distended belly, visible lumps, or signs of pain when touched.
🦁 Behavioral changes Dogs in pain or discomfort may exhibit changes in their behavior, such as restlessness, aggression, or withdrawal. They may also vocalize more than usual or seek more attention from their owner.

How is Mesothelioma in Dogs Diagnosed?

If you notice any of the above symptoms in your dog, it’s crucial to seek veterinary care immediately. Your vet will perform a physical exam, blood tests, and imaging studies (such as X-rays or ultrasound) to evaluate your dog’s health and detect any abnormalities.

If mesothelioma is suspected, your vet may recommend a biopsy (a tissue sample) to confirm the diagnosis and determine the extent of the cancer. This may involve a surgical procedure or a minimally invasive technique, depending on the location and size of the tumors.

How is Mesothelioma in Dogs Treated?

Unfortunately, mesothelioma in dogs is often advanced by the time it’s diagnosed, which limits treatment options and prognosis. However, some therapies may help to alleviate symptoms and improve your dog’s quality of life, such as:


If the tumors are localized and haven’t spread to other parts of the body, surgical removal may be an option. This involves removing as much of the cancerous tissue as possible, followed by radiation or chemotherapy to kill any remaining cancer cells.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams to target and kill cancer cells. This can be given as a standalone treatment or in combination with surgery or chemotherapy.


Chemotherapy involves drugs that kill cancer cells or slow their growth. This can be administered orally, intravenously, or directly into the affected area. However, chemotherapy can have side effects, and it’s crucial to monitor your dog’s response carefully.

Palliative Care

If the cancer is widespread or cannot be treated effectively, your vet may recommend palliative care to manage your dog’s pain and improve their comfort. This may include pain medication, dietary changes, or alternative therapies.

How Can Mesothelioma in Dogs be Prevented?

The best way to prevent mesothelioma in dogs is to avoid exposing them to asbestos or other harmful materials. If you live in an older home or work in industries that use asbestos, take precautions to protect yourself and your pet, such as:

  • 🐺 Avoid disturbing asbestos-containing materials
  • 🐺 Wear protective clothing and equipment
  • 🐺 Clean up any debris or dust immediately
  • 🐺 Keep your dog away from construction sites or other hazardous areas

FAQs about Mesothelioma in Dogs

Q1. What Breeds of Dogs are Prone to Mesothelioma?

There is no specific breed predisposed to mesothelioma in dogs. However, older dogs, male dogs, and dogs that have been exposed to asbestos or similar minerals are at higher risk.

Q2. Can Mesothelioma in Dogs Be Cured?

There is no known cure for mesothelioma in dogs. However, early detection and prompt treatment may help to slow the progression of the disease and improve your dog’s quality of life.

Q3. Is Mesothelioma Contagious?

No, mesothelioma is not contagious and cannot be spread from one dog to another or from a dog to a human.

Q4. Can Mesothelioma in Dogs Cause Death?

Yes, mesothelioma in dogs can be fatal if left untreated or if it has spread to other parts of the body. However, the prognosis depends on the location, size, and stage of the cancer and your dog’s overall health.

Q5. How Long Can a Dog Live with Mesothelioma?

The survival time for dogs with mesothelioma varies depending on the severity of the cancer and the treatment options. Some dogs may only live for a few months after diagnosis, while others may survive for a year or more with proper care.

Q6. How is Mesothelioma Different from Other Types of Cancer?

Mesothelioma is different from other types of cancer because it affects the mesothelium, a thin layer of tissue that covers the organs in the chest and abdomen. Mesothelioma is also rare and usually caused by exposure to asbestos, whereas other types of cancer can have various causes.

Q7. Can My Dog Get Mesothelioma from Secondhand Asbestos Exposure?

It’s unlikely for your dog to get mesothelioma from secondhand asbestos exposure (i.e., being around someone who works with asbestos). However, it’s still important to avoid exposing your dog to any asbestos or similar materials, as they can be harmful to their health.

Q8. Are There any Alternative Therapies for Mesothelioma in Dogs?

Alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, herbal remedies, or homeopathy, may help to alleviate some of the symptoms of mesothelioma and improve your dog’s well-being. However, there is no scientific evidence that these treatments can cure the disease or slow its progression.

Q9. Can I Prevent Mesothelioma in My Dog with a Vaccine?

Currently, there is no vaccine available for mesothelioma in dogs or humans.

Q10. How Can I Support My Dog with Mesothelioma?

If your dog is diagnosed with mesothelioma, it’s crucial to work closely with your vet to manage their symptoms and provide the best possible care. You can also seek support from other pet owners or online forums to share your experiences and learn from others.

Q11. How Can I Find a Veterinarian Specializing in Mesothelioma?

You can search for a veterinary oncologist or specialist in your area who has experience in diagnosing and treating mesothelioma in dogs. Your regular veterinarian can also refer you to a specialist or provide guidance on where to seek care.

Q12. What Should I Expect During My Dog’s Treatment for Mesothelioma?

The treatment for mesothelioma in dogs can be complicated and expensive, and it’s essential to discuss your options and expectations with your vet. Depending on the type and stage of the cancer, your dog may need surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or palliative care.

Q13. How Can I Help Raise Awareness about Mesothelioma in Dogs?

You can help raise awareness about mesothelioma in dogs by sharing your story, participating in community events, or donating to research organizations. You can also educate others about the risks of asbestos exposure and the importance of protecting our pets from harmful materials.


Mesothelioma is a serious health concern for dogs that can cause pain, discomfort, and reduce their quality of life. Therefore, it’s essential to understand the symptoms, causes, and treatments for this disease to protect our beloved pets. If you suspect that your dog may have mesothelioma, seek veterinary care immediately and work closely with your vet to provide the best possible care.

Remember, preventing mesothelioma in dogs starts with avoiding exposure to asbestos and other harmful materials. By taking simple precautions and educating ourselves and others, we can help keep our pets healthy and happy.


This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide medical advice or diagnose any health problems. Please consult your veterinarian for any concerns about your dog’s health or well-being.