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Dog Lymphoma When To Euthanize? Everything You Need to Know

The thought of euthanizing your dog is the most challenging thing ever as a pet parent. A dog not able to live up to the fullest is not only traumatic, but it is also something your dog does not deserve.  

Canine Lymphoma

When to Euthanize a Dog with Lymphoma? 

Deciding to euthanize your dog is very difficult. However, the perfect time to euthanize your dog is: 

  • Chronic pain: Consult your vet for a recommendation. If he asserts that there is no way to eliminate the suffering, it is time you euthanize your dog.  
  • Loss of appetite: It is time to euthanize your dog if he is not eating or drinking anything for days.  
  • Trouble to walk and stand: If your dog cannot perform the basic movements, it is time you euthanize your dog.  
  • Breathing difficulties: If you notice your dog has a chronic breathing disorder, you should euthanize your dog.  
  • Lethargy: If your dog cannot show interest in anything, even in things he loves, it is time you euthanize your dog.  

Symptoms that your pet shows up in the last stages and suggests you euthanize him are:

  • Crying/Whining from Pain
  • Uncontrollable Vomiting/Diarrhea
  • Sudden Collapse
  • Prolonged seizures
  • Severe Difficulty breathing
  • Profuse Bleeding – Internal or External

Let’s dive deep into the article to learn more about the canine disease, its causes, symptoms, stages and progressions, preventive measures, home remedies, and various breeds susceptible to lymphoma.

What Is Canine Lymphoma? 

Lymphoma is a cancer type commonly found in the intestines, lymph nodes, and spleen. It affects the entire immune system of the dog’s body. The treatment of lymphoma depends on the part it has occurred. For example, intestinal lymphoma will not have the same treatment as spleen lymphoma.   

We can find 30 varieties of lymphoma which can be classified into 4 groups: 

  • Extranodal lymphoma: When the dog’s kidney, eyes, skin, lungs, and central nervous system are affected, then the type of lymphoma falls under extranodal lymphoma.  
  • Mediastinal lymphoma: When the thymus and the lymph nodes swell up because of the high-grade malignant T lymphocytes, this can be categorized as mediastinal lymphoma. This type is not very common.  
  • Alimentary lymphoma: Cancer majorly affects the dog’s intestine in alimentary lymphoma.
  • Multicentric lymphoma: 85% of lymphoma is multicentric lymphoma. All the lymph nodes are affected if the dog has multicentric lymphoma.  

Lymphoma can also be categorized into two subtypes, they are: 

B-cell Lymphoma: Around 60% – 80% cases are of this type. It is also said to be a positive predictor. The B-Cell lymphoma has advantages over T-cell lymphoma, as: 

  • Dogs suffering from B-Cell lymphoma react positively to the treatments.  
  • Survival rates are high. 
  • The remission rate is high. 
  • Remission times are longer. 

T-cell lymphoma: Around 10% – 40% cases are of this type. It is a negative predictor as: 

  • It does not react positively to the treatments. 
  • The dogs have higher chances of hypercalcemia. 

Where Can We Find Lymph Nodes in Dogs? 

To talk about lymphoma, we need to know the position of lymph nodes in a dog’s body. They are situated in: 

  • Armpit 
  • Groin 
  • Knee 
  • Under the jaw 
  • Chest 

Is Lymphoma Common in Dogs? 

Yes, lymphoma is quite common in dogs. It ranks third amongst all canine cancers. Of all the canine neoplasias, it accounts for approximately 24%, which equals 13 – 24 dogs per 100,000. Irrespective of age and gender, dogs suffer from lymphoma. Male and female dogs are equally vulnerable to the disease, and dogs aged 6 – 9 years are more susceptible. 

What Are the Causes of Lymphoma? 

The series of genetic mutations in the lymphocytes causes lymphoma. In addition, there is an abnormal growth of cells due to the series of genetic mutations, making the cell malignant. The malignant cells affect the functions and other organs of the body.  

According to a few investigations, veterinarians found that lymphoma may occur due to: 

  • Viruses
  • Bacteria
  • Chemical exposure 
  • Strong magnetic fields 

Is Lymphoma in Dogs a Complicated Issue? 

Depending on the organ that succumbs to lymphoma, the pain, complications, and severity in your dog vary. However, the condition may be severe if the stomach or intestine of the dog is affected. This is because the tumor causes blockages during digestion besides vomiting and diarrhea in your pet. 

Lymphoma spreads and infects the organs, causing localized pain. Still, you can treat the initial stages and the localized pain with medication. However, stage 5 of lymphoma makes it difficult for your canine, and that’s when you have to euthanize your dog.

What are the Symptoms of Lymphoma? 

Your dog will show the following symptoms if he has lymphoma: 

  • Swollen lymph nodes 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Weight loss 
  • Tarry stool 
  • Vomiting 
  • Increased thirst 
  • Difficulty swallowing 
  • Fever 
  • Increased urination 
  • Lethargy 
  • Depression 
  • Conjunctivitis 
  • Skin nodules 
  • Reclusive behavior 
  • Loss of fur  
  • Seizures 
  • Paralysis 
  • Congestive heart failure 
  • Ulcerated skin
  • Jaundice (yellow gums and eyes) 

Diagnostic Tests to Detect Lymphoma in Dogs 

Suppose your vet suspects canine lymphoma. In that case, he performs the following primary tests in your dog:

  • Biopsy
  • Fine Needle Aspiration

Biopsy

A biopsy is a complete surgical procedure. The vet sedates your dog, cuts into the infected organ, and removes the potentially affected lymph node for diagnosis. The vet then studies the affected lymph node and sends the sample to the pathologist, who checks for symptoms of Canine Lymphoma. Under a microscope, the pathologist dissects the lymph nodes and looks for the signs of lymphoma. 

Biopsies are expensive for complete surgical procedures costing as much as $500 to $600 or more in many cases. In addition, it may strain your dog as he undergoes general anesthesia.

Note: It’s unnecessary to remove the entire affected lymph node for diagnosis. However, vets and pathologists remove the entire affected lymph node for detailed tests and analysis.

Fine Needle Aspiration

Your veterinarian will use a needle attached to a syringe to penetrate and extract a few cells from the potentially afflicted Lymph Node during a Fine Needle Aspiration. In most circumstances, your veterinarian will repeat the process multiple times in various regions of the Lymph Node to ensure that he has a representative sample of tissues to examine.

These tissue samples will then be submitted to a clinical pathologist who specializes in Canine Lymphoma diagnosis, who will examine the cells under a microscope to see whether any of them appear to be malignant. The results of this test usually take 1 to 2 days to reach your veterinarian.

The veterinarian might perform the below-listed tests to diagnose if your dog has lymphoma:

  • Serum biochemical profile
  • Complete blood count
  • Thoracic radiography
  • Bone marrow evaluation
  • Abdominal ultrasonography
  • Cardiac evaluation
  • Echocardiography

What Are the Stages and Progression of Canine Lymphoma? 

Lymphoma has two main stages, they are: 

  • Cytology on lower grades: Cancer spreads slowly, unlike large cell lymphoma at this stage. Even though it spreads in the small cells restricting its volume, it is still mature. A biopsy is done to examine the malignancy.  
  • Cytology in higher grades: The cancer is very close to the neutrophil and is large and immature. This stage is generally life-threatening if not treated early. As it responds to chemotherapy, it is also considered systemic lymphoma.  

These main stages can be further divided as: 

  • Stage 1: The lymph nodes get affected at this stage.  
  • Stage 2: The lymph nodes of the diaphragm area are affected.  
  • Stage 3: Cancer starts taking shape with the condition called lymph adenomegaly.  
  • Stage 4: Two significant organs are affected– the spleen and liver.  
  • Stage 5: The bone marrow and the extranodal points are affected. At this stage, it is challenging to treat lymphoma in your dogs. Hence, the vet suggests euthanizing your pet to prevent him from further suffering.

We can also find two clinical subtypes of lymphoma. They are: 

  • Substage A: The dog will not show any symptoms. He will have his appetite and energy levels.  
  • Substage B: The dog will show signs and symptoms of lymphoma at this stage.  

How Long Does a Dog Survive with Lymphoma? 

If a dog is suffering from high-grade lymphoma and is left untreated, their survival rate will be 6 to 8 weeks. Whereas if a dog with high-grade lymphoma is treated with Prednisone, the lifespan is extended up to 2 – 3 months. However, the excessive use of Prednisone may also lead to drug resistance.  

The consumption of Prednisone can bring some changes in the dog:  

  • The dog might be more thirsty 
  • He will have an increased appetite 
  • There will be an increase in urination 

Suppose a dog receives Madison Wisconsin, a dog gains complete or partial remission. The period of a dog after receiving this treatment: 

For B-Cell lymphoma

25% of dogs suffering from higher-grade lymphoma can live up to two years, and 80 to 90% of dogs suffering from the same can live up to one year. 

For T-cell lymphoma

70% of dogs suffering from T-Cell lymphoma can survive up to 6-8 months. 

How to Treat Canine Lymphoma? 

We already know that lymphoma is a systemic disease; hence, the treatment is based upon chemotherapy. In addition, we can also see the use of Prednisone, Tanovea – CA1, and bone marrow transplant. Madison Wisconsin protocol is used as a general treatment for dogs who suffer from high-grade lymphoma. On average, 70% to 90% of dogs have complete or partial remission with this treatment.  

There are 2 phases of chemotherapy: 

Induction: 

  • Weekly treatments 
  • This is performed to let the dog into remission 
  • It is dose-intensive 

Consolidation: 

  • Less frequent treatment 
  • Performs the killing of remaining tumor cells. 

Home Remedies and Best Diet for a Dog with Lymphoma 

The best diet for dogs with lymphoma is high protein levels and fewer carbohydrates. This is because carbohydrates can aid in cancer growth; hence, the diet must be low in carbs. On the other hand, protein slows cancer progression and helps the immune system stay stronger.  

Which Dog Breeds Are Prone to Lymphoma? 

Dog breeds that are prone to lymphoma are: 

  • Great Danes 
  • Bernese Mountain Dogs 
  • Boxers 
  • German Shepherds 
  • Poodles 
  • Rottweilers 
  • Cocker Spaniels 
  • Doberman Pinschers 
  • Beagles 

Conclusion 

Euthanizing your dog is the most challenging task. However, letting your dog live in pain is not an option. Once your dog is diagnosed with lymphoma, all you can do is consult a veterinarian and act as advised.

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