Lymphoma in dogs

Lymphoma in dogs is similar to non-Hodgkins lymphoma in people. It originates in the body’s lymphocytes, the infection-fighting white blood cells that exist in the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system includes the lymph nodes, lymphatic vessels and lymphatic organs such as the thymus, spleen, tonsils, appendix and bone marrow. These components of the lymphatic system move fluids and other substances through the body, and are an integral part of the body’s immune system.

Types of Lymphoma in Dogs

  1. Multicentric (systemic) lymphoma. Lymph nodes throughout the body are affected. This is the most common type of canine lymphoma. 

  2. Alimentary lymphoma. This type of lymphoma affects the gastrointestinal tract.

  3. Mediastinal lymphoma. This form of lymphoma affects lymph nodes in the chest. 

  4. Extranodal lymphoma. This type of lymphoma affects organs outside of the lymphatic system (e.g. skin, eyes, kidney, lung or nervous system). Cutaneous lymphoma, affecting the skin, is very rare.

Common Symptoms

While not limited to these symptoms, the following are the most common signs of lymphoma:

  • Swelling of the lymph nodes/enlarged lymph nodes

  • Tumors below the skin

  • Bruising

  • Loss of appetite

  • Tiredness

  • Weight loss

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

Causes and Risk Factors

There is no known cause of the disease. That said, scientists generally agree that dogs with compromised immune systems or certain viral infections are at increased risk. Risk also goes up by age, although young dogs can be affected as well. Additionally, dogs share our environment and as such are exposed to the same cancer-causing environmental factors as we are. Scientists have also found specific types of damaged DNA (“genes”) that can cause the lymphoma cell’s abnormal behavior.

Breeds that are more likely to get Lymphoma

Some breeds are more predisposed to getting lymphoma because their DNA has genetic mutations that make them more at risk. Boxers, Golden Retrievers, Basset Hounds, Saint Bernards, Scottish Terriers, Airedale Terriers, and Bulldogs all have an increased likelihood of developing lymphoma.

Diagnosis and treatment

Usually, your veterinarian will diagnose lymphoma by sending a sample of your dog's cells or tissue to a histopathology lab. Your vet may also run additional tests to understand the stage of cancer.

Until recently, chemotherapy has been the primary method of treating lymphoma. Today targeted therapies are a viable, and more advanced, treatment option that have come from human cancer care. FidoCure, from The One Health Company, provides genetic sequencing to enable your vet oncologist to understand the exact genetic mutation causing your dog’s cancer and provides an individualized, targeted treatment plan leveraging the latest science available in oncology.

Learn more about how FidoCure can help you and your vet understand your dog's specific lymphoma, as well as your treatment options

Vet Oncologist Viewpoint

Just like in people, there are probably 30 or 40 different types of Lymphomas in dogs. In veterinary oncology, at least at this stage, we tend not to divide them as finely. We divide into broader classes like 'b-cell lymphomas' or 't-cell lymphomas'; 'high grade lymphomas' or 'low grade lymphomas'. But all of them are analogous to non-Hodgkins lymphoma in people, in terms of the disease's biology, progression, and response to treatment; that disease in humans is actually very similar. With the genomic understanding that the One Health Company is developing, we'll be able to divide dogs with the disease more finely into different groups. With the genetic information, we as veterinary oncologists will be able to give pet owners much more detailed information.

Gerald Post, DVM

One Health Chief Veterinary Officer

DISCLAIMER: FidoCure™ is a leader in oncology research for dogs, and our team is committed to the breakthroughs in cancer biology to evolve canine cancer care, with each patient improving the outcomes for all future canine cancer patients. We use our best efforts to inform the veterinarian, who then decides which option is best for their patient. The therapies that veterinarians may prescribe and order from compounding pharmacies after receiving genetic test results from FidoCure, may constitute extra-label uses of those drugs. FidoCure is continuing to gather research data in support of novel oncology therapeutics in dogs.

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