Diagnosing Canine Lymphoma

Canine lymphoma is one of the most prevalent cancers in dogs, especially in the United States.

Canine Lymphoma Explained

Lymphoma is a type of canine cancer that affects a dog's lymph nodes, liver, spleen or other major organs. The cancer cells are known to travel through a dog's body quickly and cause eventual organ failure.

There are several types of lymphoma that can affect dogs:

  • Multicentric lymphoma: The most common type of lymphoma that affects dogs.
  • Gastrointestinal lymphoma: Affects a dog's digestive tract.
  • Mediastinal lymphoma: Affects the area around a dog's chest, and impacts breathing.
  • Extranodal lymphoma: The rarest form of canine lymphoma, which affects several areas of the dog's body.

Dogs More Likely to Get Lymphoma

There is no way to predict when or if a dog will get lymphoma, but there is data available that tells what type of canine breed is more prone to this condition. Lymphoma can affect dogs of any breed, but the following are more likely to contract it:

  • Golden retrievers
  • Rottweilers
  • Poodles
  • Pit bulls
  • Basset hounds
  • German shepherds
  • Boxers
  • Scottish terriers
  • Beagles

Canine Lymphoma Symptoms

The most common and obvious symptom of lymphoma in dogs is the discovery of lumps on the neck, armpits, back and abdomen. Lumps caused by lymphoma are usually hard, not squishy.

A lack of appetite is another sign a dog is not feeling well. A dog may begin to vomit regularly and lose all interest in food. The disinterest in food, accompanied by vomiting, will cause a dog to lose weight rapidly.

Lethargy and depression can also be a symptom of this type of canine cancer, as he won't seem interested in activities he once enjoyed.

Fever in a dog also accompanies the symptoms mentioned above.

Diagnosing Canine Lymphoma

Seek a thorough veterinary exam if you think your dog has canine lymphoma. A vet will pay special attention to the dog's lymph nodes, in search of swelling.

Tests a veterinarian will run include a urinalysis and blood tests. These tests will show how well a dog's specific systems are functioning and show any elevations in hormones, white blood cells and electrolytes.

A biopsy will need to be performed on one of the dog's lumps. During the biopsy, a dog may be given a local anesthesia to numb the area on and around a lump. Then a thick needle is inserted into the dog lump and a small piece of tissue is removed, so the cells can be evaluated by a pathologist. A biopsy can also provide a good idea of how far the cancer has progressed.

Catching canine lymphoma in the early stages can help improve your dog's prognosis.