What Is Canine Lymphoma?

Keeping up with a dog’s health should be an owner’s top priority. While taking your pet to an animal medical center for a check-up once a year — and twice a year for older pets — is the norm, there are other things you can do to ensure your dog’s health is in tip-top shape to reduce their chances of developing a disease such as canine lymphoma.

Here is what you need to understand about canine lymphoma so you can keep your pet healthy for years to come.

Understanding Canine Lymphoma

Canine lymphoma is one of the most common types of cancer that dogs can get, and there are several types of lymphoma under the umbrella term. According to research by Purdue, canine lymphomas make up 7-14% of all cancers diagnosed in dogs.

Lymphoma comes from the word lymphocytes, which are white blood cells in the body that help fight infection. This disease typically affects a few organs within a dog’s body, such as the lymph nodes, intestines, skin, spleen, bone marrow, and chest cavity.

Symptoms to Look Out for

There are a few symptoms of canine lymphoma you should keep an eye out for, including:

  • Enlarged, firm lymph nodes, which you can find behind the knee, under the jaw, or in front of the shoulders
  • Weight loss
  • Cough
  • Lethargic behavior
  • Loss of appetite
  • Frequent drinking and urination
  • Face and/or leg swelling
  • Vomiting and diarrhea

Obtaining a Diagnosis

If you notice any of the symptoms listed above, it’s important to take your pet to an animal medical center for a proper evaluation and diagnosis. A specialty vet may take a small sample of the enlarged lymph nodes to evaluate and determine an initial diagnosis; this is called in-house cytology. A biopsy (a larger sample and more invasive procedure) is sent out to a lab to confirm the diagnosis and to further reveal the specific type of cancer cell; this information is critical for your veterinary oncologist to determine the best course of treatment. 

Treatment Options

Once a veterinarian has determined the proper diagnosis, treatment options will become available for your dog. Chemotherapy is the most effective treatment option for canine lymphoma. Depending on your pet’s disease state, radiation therapy and surgery may also be recommended by your veterinarian.

If you and your veterinarian choose chemotherapy for your dog, a few important things will need to be taken into consideration to determine the best drug option:

  • Ease of treatment administration
  • Type of lymphoma
  • Cost/budget
  • Age of the dog
  • How much the lymphoma has developed
  • Other health factors and issues

The duration of chemotherapy can take anywhere from a couple of months to a few years. Unlike humans undergoing chemotherapy, dogs have much fewer side effects. In a study by Purdue University, less than 5% of dogs exposed to chemotherapy experience severe side effects of the treatment.

Post-Treatment

Your pet will be in “remission” when the cancer is no longer progressing. Remission can mean a pet’s cancer burden has been reduced by 50-100%. Your doctor will make this determination using blood work typically run in the hospital. 

After treatment, you and your veterinary oncologists will determine a regular appointment schedule to monitor your pet’s health. At these appointments, the veterinarian will measure lymph nodes and run blood work to look for signs of progressive disease.  

While canine lymphoma is common among dogs, it’s important to remain aware of the symptoms of the disease so you can catch it before it escalates. Obtain pet check-ups regularly so your pet can remain healthy and happy and cancer-free. For more information on a top animal medical center in Arizona, contact Southern Arizona Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center today.

At Southern Arizona Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center we are happy to provide a wide range of veterinary specialty and emergency services. It is important to have a “primary care” veterinarian to keep your new family member healthy and happy with routine vaccinations and health checks. But if you find yourself in the midst of a veterinary emergency, our team of experienced veterinarians is here to help. When it comes to visiting animal hospitals, we understand that the experience can be full of stress and worry, so we aim to make things as simple as possible. For more information, get in touch with one of our experts today.