Lymphoma in Dogs

Canines provide many benefits to human beings like it comforting us, give us a companionship, love etc. Like humans the chances of causing diseases to our pets are also high, so it’s vital to consult a vet often.
Lymphoma is a type of cancer, which is common in people and dogs (pets). It results from the unregulated growth of lymphocytes cells; that affects lymph nodes, liver, bone marrow, skin and spleen.

This is commonly seen in middle aged to older dogs. There are some breeds, which getting high risk due to this disease like Boxers, Basset Hound, Scottish Terriers, Bull Mastiffs, Bull dogs, Airedales, Rottweiler, Golden Retriever and Saint Bernard’s,. The dog that get lower risks are Dachshunds and Pomeranians. Another term used for this lymphoma is ‘lymphosarcoma’ or ‘non-Hodgkin’s’. Lymph tissues can be found in different organs of the body. There are 30 different types of known canine Lymphomas, all of which varies in different signs and symptoms. There are seven common types of lymphoma available that are mentioned below:

  • Gastrointestinal – found in the abdominal lymph nodes.
  • Multicentric – found in lymph nodes.
  • Cutaneous – found in the skin.
  • Mediastinal – found in the mediastinum and the thymus (difficulty in breathing).
  • Miscellaneous – found in the nervous system, cavity, nasal and kidneys.
  • Alimentary – affects the intestine.
  • Extranodal – found in the organs.

What are the Causes of Lymphoma?

The factual cause of Lymphoma is still unknown; there exist so much of fats leads to cancer that are not yet known (both human and pets). But some researchers have hinted that it may occurs due to genetic, chromosomal and predisposition correlation. They kept hope in advanced study in genetic and expecting it will eventually help them identify the exact factor. Canines, those have a concealed immune system appears to be in a high risk of Lymphoma.

Symptoms involved in the Lymphoma

Most of the canines do not show any peculiar signs of illness until they reaches the last stage of cancer. And they are variable; depending upon the location, size and stage of the tumor. This Lymphoma also varies from animal to animal.

The most common sign of lymphoma is swollen glands (lymph nodes). Few lymph nodes can be seen or felt in the surface itself such as in front of shoulder, behind the knee or in their neck. Whereas some of them cannot be identified, those in the bones, liver, organs or intestine.

The general symptoms are:

  • Diarrhea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Weight loss.
  • Lethargy.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Breathing difficulty.
  • Increased urination or thirst.
  • Redness, itchiness on the skin.
  • Lumps in the skin.

Lymphoma can also occur in eyes, heart or central nervous system.

How to Diagnosis Lymphoma?

In order to diagnose lymph, the first step is to confer the details and history of our dog’s health, then have to let veterinarian to know the symptoms of dog. So they will get a clue on which organ it’s primarily affected. The veterinarian will perform a complete physical examination on our dog and then they’ll confirm the location of the lymphoma. The most common diagnostic tool used for this disease is ‘fine-needle aspiration’. Other test like ultra-sound, blood test, x-ray and biopsies are also used to confirm this disease (further test depends upon the location).

Once cancer is suspected, some veterinarians take a sample of affected organ in order to determine how far the disease has progressed throughout the dog’s body.

World Health Organization has classified different stages of Lymphoma by which a vet can easily classify the level of risk and they are:

  • Stage 1 – a single lymph node is involved.
  • Stage 2 – multiple lymph node in the same region.
  • Stage 3 – all lymph nodes are affected.
  • Stage 4 – enlargement of liver and spleen.
  • Stage 5 – bone marrow, CNS or other extra nodal sites are affected.

Treatment for the Lymphoma disease in dog

Chemotherapy is the most effective treatment for canine lymphoma. Type of chemotherapy will vary depending on the type of cancer, and in some rare/complicated cases vet will recommend for radiation therapy or surgery. There is a wide variety of chemotherapy drugs and protocols available that are currently being used for the treatment of lymphoma. Such types of treatment usually consists of oral and inject-able drugs given on a weekly basis.

Some common chemo drugs are vincristine, cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin and prednisone; each of them works on different cancers in different ways. Autologous vaccines have also shown positive effects on dogs.

When it comes to chemo, it does not usually make them sick like people have problem while taking chemo treatment and they rarely lose their hair. The common side effects of chemo in dogs are diarrhea, mild vomiting and decreased appetite and activity level.


The most important question dog owners want to know is how long a dog diagnosed with lymphoma will live; the answer is not that simple. Because lymphomas vary widely in their aggressiveness and also depends on the stage of cancer that our dog is dealing with.

Dog owners must also know the difference between the terms ‘remission’ and ‘cure’. Remission means, all the signs and symptoms of cancer have disappeared, but still cancer could be in the body. And the partial remission means somewhat can be cured, but not all signs and symptoms have disappeared. Dogs in remission usually are affected with cancer but they are undetectable. Cure is defined as disease can be neglected fully from the body.

These statistics may frighten for dog owners, but it’s important to understand the consequences and precautions that can be taken to prevent or cure this deadly disease.


Most of the dog owner won’t like to hear that their own dog having lymphoma disease. Some people are there not to treat them because of financial draining or for some, the cost is simply out of reach. The life expectancy of these untreated dogs will be an average of 4 to 6 weeks.

Unfortunately there isn’t any cure available for this disease; the best way is to provide extra care and to maintain their health properly. If the lymphoma is recognized in its early stage, it will be much easier to treat the canines.

Chemotherapy is hazardous for human beings as well as pets. So dog owner make sure that there isn’t any risk factor and keep in contact with your vet frequently. A dog that undergoes chemotherapy can extend their life expectancy out to a year or more. It’s believed that if a dog tolerates chemo, quality of life can be quite good during their treatment period (almost all do). Regular monitoring and check-ups for the dogs are very essential for evaluating the progress in canines affected by lymphoma.

Lymphoma is a complex disease and if you witness any signs or symptoms in your dog, consult a vet as soon as possible. Though this cancer is seen most commonly in canines; treatment can be done by local vets too (you don’t have to travel a long for high-qualified vet).

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