Tumors develop from rapidly multiplying cells in the intestinal wall and can be of either benign or malign quality.
Intestinal tumors can remain undetected for a long period of time before showing symptoms. In most cases, the first symptoms are repeated episodes of diarrhea, which can sometimes contain traces of blood. Affected animals might vomit regularly and have a finicky appetite. Eventually, dogs with intestinal tumors refuse food altogether and start to loose weight. Also, their coat may begin to appear scruffy and lose its shine.
Lymphoma is the most common tumor to occur in the bowels and consists of degenerated lymphocytes. Lymphocytes (also known as leukocytes) are small white blood cells that fight off germs and disease as part of the immune system. A much rarer cancer to occur in the bowels, is carcinoma, a tumor of the intestinal wall. While uncommon in younger dogs, older dogs are more prone to develop tumors. Depending on the tumor's growth rate, a partial or full blockage of the intestinal passage can occur. In later stages tumorous growths cause extensive damage to the intestinal wall, and thus hinder the absorption of nutrition.
Some tumors can be found by handling the abdomen, provided they have already formed a solid lump. An x-ray can reveal masses inside the intestinal tract. Definite diagnosis about the quality and extent of the tumor can only be made through an endoscopy or by exploring the site of the tumor surgically. If the tumor is still in an early stage and no signs of spreading to other organs are present, full excision might prove curative. The invaded section of bowels removed with a safety margin in order to prevent reoccurrence. Chemotherapy is also possible, but only available in specialized clinics. The age and condition of the animal have to be considered in order to find the best treatment.
The sooner a tumorous growth is detected, the better the prognosis is for a full recovery. If you suspect that your dog is suffering from a tumor of the intestines, a veterinarian should be consulted as soon as possible.