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.