Cancers and Tumors in Prairie Dogs

By PetMD Editorial on Jul. 22, 2010

Occurring when cells multiply abnormally, tumors are classified as either malignant or benign. Tumors may become cancerous, although they are uncommon in prairie dogs.

Treat­ment, if recommended, will depend on the type and location of the tumor or cancer. The outcome for benign tumors and others such as odontomas is generally good, but the general outcome for some tumors or cancers involving the vital organs like the liver is poor and affected prairie dogs may live for only a few weeks after diagnosis.


While tumors in the sinus area of the upper jaw, known as odontomas, are significant causes of upper respiratory signs in prairie dogs and may be related to the constant chewing and grinding action of the upper incisor teeth, and breathing difficulties or gum inflammation.

Other tumors found in prai­rie dogs include benign kidney tumors, malignant stomach tumors, benign fatty tissue tumors, and malignant tumors of the fibrous tissue of the cartilage at the base of the tongue.


Tumors are essentially an abnormal multiplication of body cells. As these cells grow and spread (metastasize) they may become cancerous.


In the rare case that your prairie dog has a tumor, your veterinarian will make a diagnosis upon seeing the tumor growth externally. Some tumors or cancers found in the internal organs can only be diagnosed after taking an X-ray or scan.


Your veterinarian will likely recommend surgical removal of the tumor to prevent it from growing and spreading to other locations in the body, which often leads to cancer. In fact, the earlier this is done the better the chances the tumor or cancer does not become more serious.

Living and Management

A pet prairie dog in recovery after tumor surgery needs optimum post-operative care. The prairie dog should be provided adequate rest for recuperation. Regular follow-up visits to your veterinarian would be necessary to access the progress made by your pet prairie dog.

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