Tumor of the Thymus in Dogs

2 min read

Thymoma in Dogs

The thymus is an organ in front of the heart in the rib cage in which T lymphocytes mature and multiply.  A thymoma is a tumor originating from the epithelium (layer of tissue covering the thymus) of the thymus.  Thymomas are rare tumors in both cats and dogs and they are associated with myasthenia gravis.  Myasthenia gravis is a severe autoimmune disease which causes certain muscle groups to tire easily.

Symptoms and Types

  • Coughing
  • Increased breathing rate
  • Trouble breathing
  • Cranial caval syndrome -- a side effect of heartworm infestation, which often leads to swelling of the head, neck, or forelimbs
  • Myasthenia gravis, a neuromuscular disease that leads to muscle weakness, enlarged esophagus, and frequent regurgitation



  • Unknown


Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical exam on the patient. He/she will take a thorough history from the owner. Your veterinarian will order a biochemical profile, a complete blood count, a urinalysis and an electrolyte panel.

Thoracic X-rays should definitely be taken. They may show a cranial mediastinal mass (a mass in between the lungs), pleural effusion (build-up of fluid in the lungs due to aspiration pneumonia) and megaesophagus.

A blood test for antibodies to acetylcholine (a neurotransmitter causing muscles to contract) receptors should be performed so as to rule out myasthenia gravis. A Tensilon test should also be done to test for myasthenia gravis.

A fine-needle aspirate of the mass will show mature lymphocytes (white blood cells) and epithelial cells (cells forming the outside layer of the thymus gland).

Related Posts

Blood in the Chest in Dogs

Victoria Heuer
Dec 02, 2010

Nerve/Muscle Disorder in Dogs

PetMD Editorial
Apr 12, 2016

Cancer Treatment for Small Animals

Victoria Heuer
Mar 03, 2017

Healthy Foods Checklist: Pumpkin for Dogs

Deidre Grieves
Jul 08, 2020