Lymphoma is a highly common cancer in dogs and the most common that vets have to deal with for dogs.
The lymph system is part of the immune system and circulatory system, made from many lymph vessels and nodes. Cancer of the lymph system, otherwise known as lymphoma is when the lymph cells start reproducing uncontrollably. These lymph cells, or lymphocytes, are then too many in the bloodstream of the lymph nodes themselves. Unfortunately, lymphoma is nearly always a fatal disease.
How do I know if my dog has lymphoma?
There are two types of lymphoma: the one with an increase number of lymph cells I the bloodstream and one with too many in the lymph nodes. The latter is the most common and is known as multicentric or nodular lymphoma. In this instance, you can usually feel lumps all over the body of the dog, most commonly in the armpits, under the heck, behind their knees, in the groin and in the shoulders. These are where lymph nodes should be but in the case of nodular lymphoma they become really enlarged.
In the early stages of lymphoma, there might be no signs at all but if there are enlarged lymph nodes then the dog should be taken to the vet immediately. It may not be lymphoma as there can be other reasons for them, but do not wait, get your dog to a vet for a proper check up.
Other signs associated with lymphoma are non-specific symptoms such as lethargy, vomiting or lack of appetite but these could also be a symptom of many other less serious problems so see your local vet.
What is the treatment for lymphoma cancer in dogs?
There are several treatment options available for lymphoma cancer in dogs, the most common being chemotherapy, which can even be done at your local vets. It is sadly almost always fatal but with treatment, in some cases, then there can be remission of the cancer and the dog can survive for up to a year or more quite comfortably. Unfortunately, there is no long term cure known.
There are also alternative therapies as some dog owners can be concerned about the potential side effects of chemotherapy and the quality of life for their dog, but this is not recommended as an alternative to conventional treatment from a vet.
If lymphoma is left untreated, it progresses rapidly in as little as four to six weeks.
Do dog insurance companies cover lymphoma cancer in dogs?
Most dog insurance policies will cover lymphoma, but always check the small print before purchasing. There are some vets, albeit a minority, who will not accept certain pet insurance claims because they take too long or do not pay so check with your vet about your dog insurance company.