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Malignant Hystiocytosis in Dogs… Symptoms, expectations and costs!

In this article, we wanted to take a moment and discuss what it might be like to have a dog that has been diagnosed with malignant histiocytosis because the problem is, this disease is often confused with other medical conditions that affect the same cells as malignant histiocytosis (Hystiocytes) which can make understanding exactly what you’re dealing with a bit challenging at times.

So, without further ado, let’s see if we can’t make things a little clear for those who may be a bit confused.

Malignant Hystiocytosis Defined

Malignant histiocytosis is a form of cancer that is caused when the dog’s own body starts to create “abnormal” hystiocytes which rather than remain within the body’s connective tissue where they are a part of ones “normal” immune system, begin to “branch out” into other areas of the body and actually become “invading forces” attacking the body rather than protecting!

As a result…

The affected dog will begin showing signs that their own immune system is failing them which will result in a wide range of symptoms including:

  • Weight loss,
  • Lethargy,
  • Fevers,
  • And vomiting as the cancer moves into the spleen and lymph nodes.


It is often not until the later stages of this disease that symptoms begin to show and a diagnosis may be made, this is probably why the mortality rate for this disease is so high.  And even when you and your vet finally figure out that something might be wrong with our pet, because the symptoms for this disease are so “vague” during the initial phases of the diagnostic process even the most experience veterinarians may have a difficult time determining if your pet has malignant histiocytosis or:

  • Hystiocyctic sarcoma complex,
  • Cutaneous histiocytoma,
  • Langerhans cell hystioctosis,
  • Or fibrous hystiocytoma.

Which is why…

It’s so important to always rely on the advice of your veterinarian because each of these diseases will have their own treatment plan and survival rates, some of which are much higher than others!

Breeds commonly affected by Malignant Hystiocytosis

Although most types of dog can catch this cancer at later stages in their lives, there are certain breeds that have a hereditary propensity towards it however, and these are listed below:

Treatment options

We’re not going to sugar coat it, because the prognosis for this condition is not good, but on the PLUS side, it does vary for each individual type of Hystiocytosis so do check on your individual treatment options with your vet.

That said however…

Chemotherapy makes some progress with this disease, but it can significantly lower the quality of life and does not make a significant impact upon the survival rates simply because complete remission with this cancerous form is almost unheard of.  But, you never know what’s to come because research continues into how we can fight back against this tragic disease so perhaps we’re just one “break through” away from making this disease a thing of the past!

Now there are a few…

Things that your vet can do to make your pet more comfortable. Palliative care is suggested and there are other, more holistic pain management techniques such as acupuncture that can help manage symptoms.

Which brings us to…

Were we like to remind folks that we here at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians or medical professionals.  All we are is a bunch of folks who just happen to be passionate about animals and only want what’s best for them.

This is why…

If you feel like your pet may have malignant histiocytosis (or any other health issue for that matter) the first thing that you’re going to want to do is have him or her check out by a vet ASAP!


The truth is, an early diagnosis will often lead to the “best” medical outcome for your pet regardless of what is bothering him or her, but beyond that diagnosing a medical condition early could save you a bundle in medical costs!

Which is 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 right 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.

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