Lymphoma Cancer in Dogs

Lymphoma is the most common cancer diagnosed in dogs. According to the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, lymphoma makes up approximately 7% to 24% of all canine cancers. Luckily, it’s also one of the most treatable canine cancers.

Types of Lymphoma Cancer

Canine lymphoma is similar to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in humans. So similar in fact, that the treatment plan is almost the same in dogs and humans. While lymphoma can attack any organ in the body, they most commonly occur in the lymph nodes, spleen, and bone marrow.

Although there are more than thirty different types of lymphoma, there are six that pet parents should be aware of:

  • Multicentric – most common, affects the external lymph nodes leading to rapid enlargement.
  • Mediastinal – usually develops in the lymph nodes in the chest and around the heart.
  • Gastro-intestinal – second most common form of lymphoma and can restrict the bowel and lead to other health issues.
  • Cutaneous – originates in the skin (itchy, red lumps and ulcers)
  • Central Nervous System (CNS) – occurs due to metastasis of multicentric lymphoma.

Breeds at Risk for Lymphoma

Lymphoma can effect an dog breed, however here are a few of the most common breeds:

St Bernard Wheelchair
  • Boxers
  • Mastiff
  • Basset Hound
  • St. Bernard
  • Scottish Terrier
  • Airedale Terrier
  • Bulldog

Least likely breeds to be diagnosed with lymphoma are Dachshunds and Pomeranian.

Signs and Symptoms of Canine Lymphoma

Lymphoma diagnosis is most common in middle-aged dogs, between 6-9 years old. Many dogs show no visible sign that they’re sick or in pain when diagnosed and often feel well at the time of diagnosis.

Swollen Lymph Nodes

Enlarged lymph nodes are a telltale sign that there is something wrong. An effected lymph node, will feel like a hard, rubbery lump under your dog’s skin. The easiest to check, is directly under your dog’s jaw. You can also check in front of their shoulders or behind the knees for signs of swelling.  

Additional Symptoms

  • Swelling of the face or legs
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Flaky, dry or red skin (Cutaneous Lymphoma)

What to do when your dog’s lymph nodes are enlarged

1. Make an Appointment at the Vet

Dog health and lymphoma check

If you feel a hard, rubbery lump in your dog’s lymph nodes, see a Vet immediately. If cancer is suspected, your Vet may do a biopsy as well diagnostic testing to determine your dog’s condition as well as where the cancer may be located.

Reminder: Schedule your annual checkup! Your Veterinarian will check your dog’s lymph nodes as a part of your dog’s annual checkup!

2. Ask About Seeing a Veterinary Oncologist

It never hurts to ask for a second opinion. The most common lymphoma treatment is chemotherapy. Although, chemotherapy can be given at your Vet’s office, ask about seeing a board-certified Veterinary Oncologist.

3. Love Your Dog

Vet visits are scary and your dog probably doesn’t understand what’s going on. Along with following your doctor’s orders, the most important thing you can do is keep your pet calm, and give them all the love they need.

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