Lymphoma in dogs

A fawn boxer dog sleeping on the floor.

Lymphocytic sarcoma, or lymphoma, is a malignancy of the lymphatic system. This frequent malignancy is more common in particular breeds and has fortunately been extensively researched. While chemotherapy isn't right for every dog, it can help them go into remission and live longer.

What is Lymphoma?

One of the most prevalent cancers in dogs is lymphoma. Cancer is a frightening phrase, yet it may be broken down into cells that will not stop plunging. Each ell in our bodies has a function and a lifespan assigned to it. Cancer cells are designed incorrectly and will continue to multiply at the expense of the body in which they live. Lymphoma is a malignancy that affects a kind of white blood cell known as a lymphocyte. Lymphoma is most usually discovered in lymph nodes, although it can spread throughout the body. It might be localized at one place or spread throughout the body.

Lymphoma may strike at any age, but it is most common in dogs between the ages of 6 and 9, and particular breeds appear to be more susceptible than others. Lymphoma may affect any dog, but it is most frequent in golden retrievers, boxers, bulldogs, and west highland white terriers, to mention a few breeds.

Signs of Lymphoma

The majority of pet owners detect a swelling on their pet and take it to the veterinarian. Lymph nodes can be found behind your dog's neck, in the front of their chest, under their armpits, in their groin, and behind the knee. It's worth mentioning that inflammation elsewhere in the body might cause lymph nodes to grow. During a physical exam, your veterinarian will feel around your pet's body not just for lumps and bumps, but also for any enlargement of the lymph nodes above them.

Some pet parents may notice more noticeable symptoms such as decreased appetite, overall lethargy, weight loss, severe gastrointestinal difficulties, and trouble breathing depending on how far the cancer has gone.

  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Weight Loss
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever

Causes of Lymphoma

While a cancer diagnosis for any dog can be heartbreaking, lymphoma has no recognized cause. Dog lymphoma is identical to human non-lymphoma. Hodgkin's Non-lymphoma Hodgkin's is connected to significant immune suppression in humans, such as when they get an organ transplant. This relationship has yet to be established in dogs. While particular breeds appear to be more common, no genetic relationships have been discovered.

Diagnosis of Lymphoma

When you take your dog to the veterinarian, he or she will be tested for lymphoma. A veterinarian cannot identify if a tumor or lump is malignant without doing diagnostics. Following a thorough examination, your veterinarian will feel your pet's lymph nodes to identify which ones are swollen. When a lymph node is swollen, a needle can be used to obtain a tiny sample in the exam room. In the event of lymphoma, a lymph node is most commonly sampled using a method known as fine needle aspiration. The tiny needle aspiration is performed without sedation or anesthesia and is as painless as an immunization for your pet. A sample of lymph node cells is placed on a glass slide, stained to highlight cell features, and examined under a microscope.

Your veterinarian may examine the cell samples in their office or send them to a specialised lab to be reviewed by a pathologist. When cancer cells are discovered, your veterinarian will "stage" your dog to determine how far the cancer has advanced. Multiple diagnostics are used during staging to determine which organs have been compromised. X-rays of the chest and abdomen, an ultrasound (sonogram) of the abdomen, blood tests for internal organ function, red and white blood cell counts, and urine testing are all typical procedures.

Treatment of Lymphoma

Seeing a board-certified veterinary oncologist is the greatest way to improve your dog's chances of survival. When you have a really particular sickness, you need to visit an expert, much like when you have a very specific condition in humans. After veterinary school, veterinary oncologists complete a three-year residency to specialize on cancer diagnosis, therapies, and palliative care.

The first step is to stage your dog and have a veterinarian assess his overall health as well as the degree of the lymphoma. Remember, dogs are wagging their tails and, in some circumstances, are completely unaware of their own illness. After your dog has been staged, you will meet with an oncologist who will examine your dog's overall health in addition to the lymphoma and discuss treatment choices with you, including side effects such bone marrow suppression.

Other tumors in dogs can be treated with surgery or radiation, but lymphoma requires chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is usually administered to dogs in the form of injections once a week. Overall, dogs take chemotherapy well, but nausea, anorexia, and other gastrointestinal symptoms might develop. Lymphoma cannot be cured, however it can be placed into remission with chemotherapy. Chemotherapy required not only emotional and physical commitment, but also financial commitment on the part of the pet owners. When chemotherapy isn't an option, a dog might get steroids instead.

Survival rates vary based on your pet's overall health and lymphoma stage, but dogs that get chemotherapy and achieve complete remission have an average survival span of 12-14 months. Dogs with lymphoma have a life expectancy of 1- 2 months if they are not treated. Your oncologist will look through your dog's specific circumstances and recommend the best treatment choice for him. Even if chemotherapy isn't a possibility, steroids and other palliative medicines can help your dog feel better.

Life Expectancy of Dogs with Lymphoma 

You're probably wondering how a dog's life expectancy will be affected after they've been diagnosed. Unfortunately, the answer isn't always apparent, and the prognosis is determined by a variety of circumstances, including how the dog feels, the stage of the disease, the stage it was at the time of diagnosis, and the therapies utilized. Chemotherapy has a rather favourable prognosis, with most dogs attaining partial or full remission and an average life expectancy of one year.