Lymphoma is one of the most common forms of cancer in dogs, accounting for approximately 20% of all canine cancers that are diagnosed. The term "lymphoma" is a blanket term used to describe over 30 types of cancer that target the white blood cells responsible for helping the immune system fight off infections.
The good news is that lymphoma is one of the most treatable cancers that occur in dogs. But cancer needs to be identified before treatment can begin. This is why it is so important for dog owners to be familiar with the warning signs of illness and disease.
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What are the final stages of lymphoma?
When discussing canine lymphoma progression, it is categorized into 5 stages based on the extent of the disease. Your veterinarian may be able to diagnose cancer in your dog by feeling the lymph nodes and taking a sample with a small needle (aspirating) to prepare slides for testing. These slides are then examined by a board-certified pathologist.
In more advanced cases, where a dog has progressed to end-stage lymphoma, more advanced testing is necessary. This may include abdominal ultrasounds, chest X-rays, or testing of bone marrow samples.
The 5 stages of lymphoma in dogs
- Stage 1: Only 1 node is involved.
- Stage 2: Multiple nodes are involved either on the front half or the back half of your dog's body.
- Stage 3: Multiple nodes are involved on both the front and back half of the body.
- Stage 4: The spleen and/or liver are involved.
- Stage 5: This stage includes all the involvements with the addition of bone marrow. In rare cases, this could involve just the bone marrow without any other involvement.
Spot the common signs of end-stage lymphoma in dogs
While lymphoma is highly curable, the prognosis will depend largely on how early it is caught and addressed. The sooner that your dog starts treatment, the better their chances. Yearly physical exams with your veterinarian will help you identify any health problems early.
It is also important to familiarize yourself with the common warning signs of lymphoma in dogs. If you notice any of these symptoms, make an appointment to have your dog examined.
Nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite are signs of lymphoma in dogs
If your dog has been eating noticeably less than usual or has been turning food down entirely, chances are that he isn't feeling well. If this is combined with frequent gagging or vomiting throughout the day, it could be a sign of a serious health problem.
Take notice of unexplained, rapid weight loss
Sudden or rapid weight loss in your dog should always be taken seriously. Especially if you have not made any significant changes to your dog's daily routine or diet. This could be a sign that your dog hasn't been eating or it could indicate a more complicated health problem. This is one of the most noticeable signs of lymphoma in dogs.
Depression could also be a sign of a physical health problem in your dog
When discussing mental health problems in your dog, you may not immediately make a connection to their physical health. But, if your dog doesn't normally live with depression, the development of these symptoms could mean that there is an underlying health problem. Monitor your dog for any other signs of illness and consult with your veterinarian to rule out any serious problems
Lumps and bumps are often symptoms of the final stages of canine lymphoma
If you discover a round, hard lump on your dog's back, neck, abdomen, or armpit that hasn't been there previously, this could be a sign of trouble. While some dogs will develop fat deposits that are softer to the touch, hard lumps could signify a problem. If you are unsure, consult your veterinarian.
A high or recurring fever is a serious sign of illness
The normal temperature of a healthy dog is 101.5 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. A canine fever is generally not a "stand-alone" symptom, so watch for other signs and symptoms. If your dog has a temperature of 105 or higher or has had a temperature for multiple days, contact your veterinarian.