Lymphoma Cancer in Dogs

Lymphoma is a type of cancer which can affect any vertebrae animal, including humans as well as cats, and indeed dogs. Lymphoma was first described in 1832 but Thomas Hodgkin's, thus lymphoma has commonly be divided into Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's (though more recent systems of classification include further categories, such as B-cell, T-cell and Natural Killer-cell lymphoma). In the case of dogs, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is one of the most common types of diagnosed cancer, accounting for some 10 to 20 per cent of all diagnoses cases.

Causes of Lymphoma Cancer in Dogs

As with most cancers, not everything about lymphoma cancer is understood. While research has shown how lymphomas develop and form, it is as yet unknown what causes the process to start. There has been some evidence that exposure to specific pesticides and/or magnetic fields may increase the risk of developing lymphoma, but this has only been very limited. While some studies have found weak proof, others have been unable to confirm it, and thus it can merely be but down as a speculation and weak possibility, and no direction causation can be inferred.

There does appear to be a genetic side as well, as some breeds are more commonly affected than others. At the very top of the list of breeds in terms of risk are Golden Retrievers, with a lifetime risk of some 1 to 8, though it is unknown why they suffer a higher risk than other breeds. Further breeds that appear particularly susceptible to developing lymphoma cancer include:

  • Chow Chow
  • German Shepherd
  • Bulldog
  • Rottweiler
  • Boxed
  • Beagle
  • Scottish Terrier
  • Airedale Terrier
  • Basset Hound

Again, we have as of yet been unable to identify exactly why these breeds suffer a higher risk than others.

Signs of Lymphoma Cancer in Dogs

The signs of lymphoma cancer in dogs are virtually the same as those in humans – though for obvious reasons some of them are more difficult to spot. Swollen lymph nodes in may be found in the neck, near the knee, or in the shoulder area – these can be difficult to spot, but will appear as a small lump, most easily identified by massaging with your fingers. The dog may also appear less energetic, suffer from unusually heavy hair loss, an increased need to urinate, vomiting, high temperature or unexpected and dramatic weight loss. If your dog presents one or several of these symptoms for a prolonged period of time, it is recommended that your consult a trained veterinarian, as the best means of diagnosing lymphoma cancer in dogs (and indeed humans) is through the biopsy of an affected lymph node.


The treatment of lymphoma cancer in dogs is most commonly the same as in humans – that is, chemotherapy. However, lymphoma is difficult to fight off completely, and the by most common result of treatment is a long remission time rather than complete cure. These treatments can also be very costly, especially if the animal is not fully insured, and if the cancer has been left unidentified and untreated for long enough as to reach a later stage, treatment may have little effect.

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