Canine Skin Lymphoma

Lymphoma is a frequently met cancer in dogs and may occur in the liver, spleen, lymph nodes or affect the skin. The skin lymphoma can be dangerous, as the skin is the largest organ in the dog’s body. The skin or cutaneous lymphoma will typically affect middle aged or older dogs of any sex or breed. The main symptoms of lymphoma are typically swellings or lumps on the surface of the skin. The lymphoma can be managed through chemotherapy, which can extend the dog’s life.

Causes of Canine Lymphoma

The causes of canine skin lymphoma are not yet clear. Some research show that dogs exposed to pesticides and other toxic materials are more prone to developing lymphoma.

The disease may also be genetic.

Symptoms of Skin Lymphoma

Skin lymphoma in dogs will be manifested through swellings or lumps that can be felt when palpating the dog’s skin. These lumps may be located on any part of the body.

The lumps are itchy, look red and are ulcerated.

The dog may also have a lack of appetite, vomit and have a general state of weakness.

Diagnosing Lymphoma

Cutaneous lymphoma in canines can be diagnoses employing a combination of tests; blood tests are essential. The vet will also perform a biopsy of the lump, to determine if the disease is indeed cancer.

Other tests may also be needed, to determine if the cancer has spread to other organs in the body and to determine the stage of the disease.

Treatment Options

Skin lymphoma is best treated through chemotherapy. Surgery or radiation therapy may not be effective in the case of skin cancer.

The chemotherapy will stop the cancerous cells from developing and spreading to other organs in the body. There are numerous types of chemo medications which can be chosen by the vet to better suit the condition of your dog. The medication will be administered on a weekly basis; the drugs can be injected or taken as pills.

The oncologist may also prescribe some additional drugs (i.e. cortisone) which can manage the swellings and the discomfort. The most commonly used drugs in canine skin lymphoma include cyclophosphamide, vincristine and prednisone or prednisolone. However, the administration of prednisone is not recommended prior to chemotherapy, as it can influence the effectiveness of the treatment.

If the dog tolerates the chemo, he will have a quality life while under treatment.

There are also some holistic remedies that can be effective in extending the dog’s life and stopping the development of cancerous cells.

Skin Lymphoma Prognosis

Dogs that get no treatment will die in less than 3 months, depending on the stage of the disease. The cancer will eventually metastize.

If treatment is chosen, the dog can live for a few months up to a few years. The lifespan depends on the stage of the disease, the way the dog responds to the therapy and the immunity of the dog.

In some cases, chemotherapy can lead to total remission.