Mast Cell Tumor Dog Life Expectancy 2018

Mast Cell Tumor Dog Life Expectancy – It’s All About the Drugs

There are many different drugs used as chemotherapy and new drugs are being approved every year. The following drugs are the most commonly used to treat mast cell dog tumors. 


Vinblastin is an injectable chemotherapy drug derived from the periwinkle plant. It works by binding to the proteins of dividing cells and preventing them from dividing even more. 

This drug works on all rapidly dividing cells in the dog’s body including the hair and intestinal cells.  Since it affects more than just the mast cell tumor, Vinblastin can cause the following side effects:

Side effects include fur loss, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, jaw pain, and irritation of the mouth.

There are different ways the veterinarian can schedule vinblastine. One way includes a weekly injection once per week for about eight weeks. This has to be done at the veterinarian’s office.


Lomustine targets rapidly dividing cells as well. This drug disrupts the cell’s DNA and RNA replication which damages and kills the cancer cells. 

This drug is considered less potent than vinblastine; however, it still comes with some side effects including appetite loss, fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea, corneal changes, oral irritation, and less frequently liver or kidney damage.

Mast Cell Tumor Dog Life Expectancy
Brachycephalic dogs are prone to mast cell dog tumors.

The Most Serious Chemo Side Effect

Bone marrow suppression is the most serious side effect of chemotherapy in dogs.  When the bone marrow is suppressed, the dog’s immune function is also suppressed.  A suppressed immune system leaves the dog open to viruses and bacterial infections.


Chlorambucil binds the cell’s DNA  and is often used to treat cancer of the immune system.  Again, it prevents cells from replicating.  This drug suppresses the body’s ability to produce antibodies, and antibodies are what fuel the immune system.

This can be administered via oral tablet daily or a few times per week. Unlike injections, tablets can be given at home.  Chlorambucil is often used with other medications like prednisone and is considered to be well-tolerated in dogs. 

Side effects might include vomiting, diarrhea, bone marrow suppression, loss of fur and in very rare cases, seizures.


Toceranib targets the mast cell tumors in dogs.  To get the best prognosis for mast cell tumor dog life expectancy, you need to kill those cancer cells.

This is what toceranib was made for. This drug is particularly effect when the tumor has a genetic mutation called a C-Kit. Your veterinarian will have the lab check for this mutation.

The most common side effects are loss of appetite, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and bloody stools.

The YouTube video below talks about treating canine cancer with CBD.  Note: I always recommend discussing cancer treatments with a licensed veterinarian.

The Main Reason for Alternatives to Chemotherapy

When confronted with mast cell tumor dog life expectancy, dog owners want the best treatment they can afford. Sometimes, however, people opt for alternative treatments for other reasons. 

Dog owners worry about the immune suppressing effects of chemotherapy and question the effects of toxic chemicals. 

Holistic and naturopathic veterinarians have developed non-drug treatments and therapies to manage mast cell dog tumors that have spread. 

These treatments can include dietary change (particularly a raw or home-cooked diet), acupuncture and massage to improve blood circulation. 

Personally Speaking…

If I were facing a questionable mast cell tumor dog life expectancy, I would want to put my odds on proven medical interventions.  If your veterinarian is on board, you might even include nutritional supplements or CBD oil. 

In fact, alternative medications may help with the side effects of surgery and conventional mast cell tumor treatments.  

Summing It Up

The bottom line is that even if your dog has a mast cell tumor, there’s a good chance it is benign. Remember, up to 50% of mast cell skin tumors in dogs are not malignant. 

The best mast cell tumor dog life expectancy happens when the tumor is caught and removed early.  That’s why you should never ignore any new lumps or bumps, especially on middle-aged to senior dogs.   If your dog happens to be of the brachycephalic breed, you need to watch even more closely.

Stay Positive

I want to thank you for reading this post. My intention was to provide facts about mast cell tumor dog life expectancy to give you a better picture. You will read a lot of fear-mongering posts out there, but the reality is your dog has an excellent chance of long-term survival. As long as the tumor is caught early and no cells are left behind after surgery, your dog has a nice long life ahead of him.

Please tweet, pin, or post!  And don’t forget to come back.  You don’t want to miss out on more posts like this. 


Jen Clifford:

Jen Clifford is amazingly rich with knowledge who has experience as a veterinarian technician. Her love of animals is evident in her writing, and her blog. Please visit her at

Lisa Theriault, Founder and Author.

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About Lisa Theriault

Lisa Theriault wants you to know right up front that she is not a veterinarian. None of the articles/posts on this website are meant to take the place of veterinarian care. That said, Lisa has had a lifetime of experience dealing with dogs and plans on further education on dog anatomy and canine massage. In the meantime, Lisa's posts are all professionally researched and carefully crafted. The last thing she wants is to do or say anything that would hurt your dog. Stay tuned for more updates to Lisa's bio.