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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 that this disease is often confused with other medical conditions that affect the same cells as malignant histiocytosis (Hystiocytes) which can make understanding precisely what you’re dealing with a bit challenging at times.

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

Malignant Histiocytosis Defined

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

As a result…

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

  • Weight loss,
  • Lethargy,
  • Fevers,
  • And I was vomiting as the cancer moved 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 your pet, because the symptoms for this disease are so “vague” during the initial phases of the diagnostic process, even the most experienced veterinarians may have a difficult time determining if your pet has malignant histiocytosis or:

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

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

Breeds commonly affected

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

Treatment options

We won’t sugarcoat it because the prognosis for this condition is not good. Still, on the PLUS side, it varies for each type of Histiocytosis, so check your treatment options with your vet. That said, however, Chemotherapy makes some progress with this disease. Still, it can significantly lower the quality of life and does not significantly impact 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 against this tragic disease, so perhaps we’re just one “breakthrough” 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 other, more holistic pain management techniques, such as acupuncture, can help manage symptoms. This brings us to where we like to remind folks that we here 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.

This is why…

If you feel like your pet may have malignant histiocytosis (or any other health issue for that matter), you will first want to have them checked out by a vet ASAP! 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.

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