Its not that often that we see a primary kidney cancer in a young pet. This page will show you how we diagnosed and treated it on a one year old Basenji.

This story emphasizes how fast things change, and a pet that is perfectly healthy on a physical exam and blood panel, can change for the worse in a short period of time.

Click on the lab data and ultrasound report photos to enlarge them and see how we made the diagnosis.

Graphic photos of a kidney with cancer on this page.

Normal Physical Exam

As part of our routine pre-operative spay exam, a blood panel is run. It came back normal.

Kidney-Tumor12 copy

Note the circle over BUN and Creatinine. They are tests of the kidneys, and they are normal.

Surgery and healing progressed as expected for a young dog, and within a few days it was back to normal. Over the next several months there was no indication of any problem.

Physical Exam


Three months later this young dog was presented with signs of decreased appetite and not feeling herself. There were no other problems.

Physical Exam

  • Body Temp- 101.6 degrees F
  • Mucous membranes- pink
  • Respiratory rate- 40 breaths per minute
  • Heart rate- 150 beats per minute
  • Haircoat- normal
  • Musculoskeletal system (bones and muscles)- normal
  • Mouth- normal
  • Eyes- normal
  • Abdomen- normal
  • Peripheral Lymph nodes- normal
  • Ears- normal
  • Heart- normal
  • Urogenital- normal
  • Weight- 22#, no change from 3 months prior

Interpretation- Even though this exam is essentially normal, a lack of appetite in a young dog is of concern. Also, no weight gain over the last 3 months is cause for concern in a young animal that is still growing, and confirms the owners observation of lack of appetite.

Diagnostic tests are now needed to find out why the lack of appetite and weight gain. On any sick pet a minimum database is needed to start looking at all of the numerous possibilities as to the cause of these problems in a young dog.

Diagnostic Tests

Blood Panel


It is obvious there is a serious problem with the kidney tests compared to 3 months prior. In addition, other tests are elevated, all leaning towards a serious kidney problem.


This is the abdominal ultrasound report. Read it carefully to see how detailed it is and note the abnormalities. The abnormalities are marked in the pictures to follow.


Left kidney


Right kidney




Small intestine



A fine need aspirate (FNA) was obtained during the ultrasound. This is a non-invasive way to obtain a sample as compared to a highly invasive (and more expensive) exploratory surgery. The skill of our ultrasound doctor gives us confidence in the accuracy of the FNA, although there is no guarantee it will give us an accurate cause to the enlarged kidneys.

The sample is sent to a pathologist for microscopic analysis. It came back a malignant cancer called lymphosarcoma (LSA), also known as lymphoma.


Necropsy photos of a different pet

Necropsy photo of an elderly cat with kidney cancer. The kidney is split down the middle and opened up to see the inside. This is how lymphoma looks in a cat, not the dog above. The cancer is at the arrow, from the 8 PM to 2 AM position on the left.



This dog has a serious problem that needs to be treated by a veterinary oncologist. We send all of our cancer cases to the Veterinary Cancer Group.


They have many doctors and several offices throughout Southern California 

This is the chemotherapy treatment protocol they instituted. They also do many other types of therapy including radiation therapy.


Four months later this dog is doing well, with the kidney tests dramatically improved:

BUN- 35

Creatinine- 1.8

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