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Lymphoma is something that most of us have heard about. It’s a form of cancer that affects many people across the globe. However, it’s not just limited to people. Even dogs can develop lymphoma.
For a dog owner, it can be terrifying to find out that their dog has lymphoma. However, panic isn’t going to help the situation and neither will pity. If you want to extend his/her life and ensure that he/she enjoys the remainder of her/his days, it is best to get informed about the disease.
Introduction to Lymphoma
Lymphoma is the name given to a collection of blood cell tumors that develop from lymphatic cells. Now, there are 5 kinds of lymphomas that affect dogs, the most common one being multi-centric lymphoma.
This type of lymphoma targets the external lymph nodes and will, typically, spread to other organs thereafter.
Alimentary lymphoma is another type of lymphoma. It accounts for about 10% of all lymphomas that affect dogs. This particular form of lymphoma develops in the gastrointestinal tract and can become fatal if the tumor shows up near the large or small intestine. If it does, it can restrict the bowel.
Like a lot of cancer varieties, there is no exact known cause for lymphoma. There is very little information that we have. All we know is that it affects mostly older dogs and certain breeds are more prone to it, like Basset Hounds, Scottish Terriers, Bull Dogs, and Boxers etc.
Some theories suggest that environmental triggers, such as exposure to industrial areas, chemicals, and herbicides may have a role to play. Other than that, experts have stated that weak immune systems can also lead to lymphoma.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
Multi-centric lymphoma, which is the most common, is characterized by the swelling of the lymph nodes, including the liver and spleen. There is very little to minor pain associated with this swelling. Now, not all dogs show explicit signs of such swelling. This is why dog owners need to be watchful. Watch out for signs such as stressed breathing, excessive urination, anemia, fever, sudden weight loss, abnormal thirst etc.
In the case of alimentary lymphoma, diagnosis is more complex. However, keep an eye out for signs such as excessive urination, lethargy, diarrhea, vomiting, and weight loss. These are red flags in any case and you need to rush your dog to the vet if he/she is showing these symptoms
To confirm lymphoma, your doctor will carry out a urinalysis and a blood count. The final diagnosis is done via the aspiration of lymph nodes using fine needles. Other tissues may be aspirated as well. An ultrasound scan may be ordered too.
There is no cure for lymphoma. However, therapy, via chemotherapy or radiotherapy, can help slow down progress and help your dog live longer. Your veterinarian will help you make the best decision possible. Talk to him/her to know more.