It all began when Terry Simons, a dog trainer and agility competitor, in 2011 found out that his beloved dog Reveille was diagnosed with Lymphoma.
Lymphoma is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in dogs (and people too). It is cancer much like non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in people, and the chemotherapy protocol is very similar. Lymphoma is a broad term used when discussing the group of cancers that are related to lymphocytes which are white blood cells that help fight off infection by the immune system. No one knows what causes lymphoma in dogs.
The 2 most common types of lymphoma that affect dogs are:
1) Multicentric lymphoma – this is the most common in dogs with approximately 80-85 % of cases being this type. Symptoms of this type usually show up as obviously enlarged lymph nodes. They are not painful but are hard lumps that can be found in the neck, armpits, and groin areas.
The dog also may not eat, lethargic, and weak as the disease progresses.
2) Alimentary lymphoma- this is approximately 10% of the dog cases.
Symptoms of this type involve the intestines, and as such there may be vomiting, diarrhea, painful abdomen and weight loss.
To diagnose cancer, the vet may do many things – often starting with sampling the lumps (fine needle aspirates), ultrasound or blood work. To treat the disease the most common and effective way is with chemotherapy. Some may be done in the clinic, and as we are so close to many referral clinics some more advanced treatments may be done with an Oncologist for Pets (One who specializes in cancer treatments). These treatments for this type of cancer do not usually make the dog sick, and they rarely lose their hair (like in people). If chemotherapy is not your choice, there are medications that we can use to make your dog comfortable as they deal with the disease process.
This information gives you a rough overview of Canine Lymphoma, which has officially had its one National Day since 2015.
Written By: Lisa Clifford, RVT