Because Lymphoma is one of the most common types of cancer that can strike young or middle-aged dogs, we wanted to take a moment and discuss what it might be like to own a dog that has been diagnosed with it, as well as try to shed some light on what you as a loving owner can do to help during your dog’s treatment. That said, we should also point out that Lymphoma is not a cancer limited to the canine world. It can also be present in felines, usually due to the Feline Leukemia virus.
In dogs, however…
Scientists believe the condition is inherited, but the specific gene that carries it has yet to be identified. Not unlike other cancers, scientists believe that environmental factors can also contribute. But before we get too deep, let’s begin our discussion by defining precisely what Lymphoma in a dog is.
Lymphoma in dogs
Lymphoma is sometimes called ‘cancer of the lymph nodes,’ but this is untrue. More accurately, it is a cancer whose first clinical signs involve swelling and pain in the lymph nodes, making this symptom something that your veterinarian will examine for an accurate diagnosis.
It is a second variation of the disease – but there are many others. Most types are detectable by examining the lymph nodes, although a possible biopsy or MRI will be needed to confirm.
Lymphoma is also…
Called Lymphosarcoma, or LSA for short. It presents as an overabundance of white blood cells (or Lymphocytes) that attack the internal organs and cause:
- Weight loss,
- And vomiting.
If your dog has been diagnosed with Lymphoma, he will be very sick. Without any treatment, survival times are short.
As well as T-cell lymphoma (the most responsive to treatment)…
Your dog might also contract a variety of other types of Lymphoma, including:
- B-cell Lymphoma means the cancer is multicentric and has spread to all the body’s lymph nodes.
- Mediastinal Lymphoma typically attacks the lungs and organs, making breathing hard for the dog. This variant of Lymphoma is also sometimes called Auxiliary Lymphoma.
- As well as cutaneous Lymphoma presents clinical signs as lesions on the skin… as you can see.
Ultimately, it will be up to your veterinarian to determine what “type” of Lymphoma your dog has and plan a potential treatment program.
Most Commonly Affected Breeds
Many breeds are affected by this disease, but this list is by no means exhaustive. Pedigree-bred dogs are more likely to suffer from this condition as they have limited genetic material to draw from and are, therefore, more likely to inherit it. That being said, known breeds to suffer are as follows:
- Airedale Terrier,
- Basset Hound,
- Bouvier Des Flandres,
- Chow Chow,
- Cocker Spaniel,
- German Shepherd Dog,
- Golden Retriever,
- Irish Setter,
- Labrador Retriever,
- Saint Bernard,
- Scottish Terrier.
This type of cancer is also reasonably high in mixed-breed dogs.
Lymphoma in dogs can be treated if it is caught quickly enough. However, undiagnosed dogs with Lymphoma have a median survival rate of between 1 and 2 months. Diagnosis will involve blood tests and scans, and your vet will want to consult a veterinary oncologist. Some canine patients can be treated with cancer drugs, but it will depend upon which stage your dog is at whether or not these drugs are effective.
Treatment will vary…
Depending on the type of Lymphoma, it is likely that your vet will operate chemotherapy protocols as soon as possible. Chemotherapy can help many types of Lymphoma, and complete remission is standard if diagnosed early. Unfortunately, chemo will kill the cancer cells by destroying the dog’s immune system, leaving him vulnerable to all else, so you’ll need to be vigilant in their aftercare, making sure not to sign any sickness or infection.
Which brings us to…
We want to remind folks that we at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians, or medical professionals. We are all a bunch of folks passionate about animals and only want what’s best for them. If you feel your pet may have Lymphoma (or any other health issue), you will want to have them checked out because…
An early diagnosis will often lead to the “best” medical outcome for your pet regardless of what is bothering them, but beyond that, diagnosing a medical condition early could save you a bundle in medical costs! This is also why we here at IndulgeYourPet also recommend that any new pet owner take a moment and see what it might cost for you to purchase a pet insurance policy for your new animal.
Now, will a pet insurance policy be suitable for everyone?
No, probably not. But until you fully understand what these policies “will” and “won’t” cover and how much these pet insurance policies cost, how will you know if one might be right for you?
For more information on who we feel currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies out there, we would encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Policies article.