As a dog owner, you worry about your pup getting sick. And what if your worst dreams come true and you get that canine lymphoma diagnosis from the veterinarian.
Should you work on treating the illness? Should you work on making the dog as comfortable as possible? Should you consider euthanasia for the dog?
When should you put to sleep a dog with lymphoma? It’s time to put your dog with lymphoma down when he seems to be in pain, has no appetite, and isn’t responding to treatments.
Of course, this is a very personal decision to make. And it’s certainly not an easy one.
If you find yourself faced with this terrible decision, then let us help you work through it. We consulted with our local Middle Tennessee vet, Dr. Patel, and he’s answered all of our questions on what to do when your dog is diagnosed with lymphoma.
What Does A Canine Lymphoma Diagnosis Mean?
What do you understand by Lymphoma? Many pet parents are worried about life-threatening cancer and cannot stand the thought of their dogs suffering from lymphoma.
What most pet parents need to face is that no matter the treatment, there is no guarantee of positive results. The dog will still be in pain and even face death.
With unbearable pain, most of them resort to euthanasia. The advice is that before that decision, the owners should understand the basic ideas.
You need to understand the whole process for your grieving period and a smooth transition for the dog. Make sure you allocate time and have an appointment with a vet.
This kind of cancer affects the lymphoid tissues in the white blood cells, intending to protect the dog’s body. The immune system will be safe from any infections, which affect tissues in the bone marrow, liver, spleen, and other organs.
Lymphoma is life-threatening and can affect any part of the dog’s body. It is the most popular type of cancer in canine families; it is the third in the line. Canine neoplasias make up over 20% of the fatal record; the record makes more than ten dogs.
Most pet parents need to know that they are more vulnerable when their dogs are below the age of 10.
The gender does not matter; they are all at risk of developing the dog lymphoma symptoms and cancer.
There are different types of dog breeds; some have a higher chance and others have a lower chance of developing the cancer symptoms. Some of them include German Shephard, Boxer, Westies, Pointers, Scotties, Golden Retrievers, Pomeranian, and Dachshund.
What Causes Dog Lymphoma?
Different genetic mutations bring about cancer in the lymphocyte. That is the reason the cells will grow abnormally to be malignant.
It is the reason why it will affect all the organs and functionalities of the body. Many factors will contribute to cancer cells like environmental exposure, virus, bacteria, and magnetic field.
Most of the causes are known after carrying out more investigations and tests. When the immune system is suppressed in human beings, it can be a problem.
There is no proof of establishment in dogs.
The Different Types Of Canine Lymphoma
There are four main types of lymphoma in dogs.
- Multicentric Lymphoma: This is the most common – seen in 80% of dog lymphoma cases. It’s a lot like non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, which humans get.
- Alimentary: It is the second-highest form of dog cancer, with around 10% of cases, and mostly affects the digestive tract. It is challenging to diagnose since there are no external signs. Some of the dog lymphoma symptoms include vomiting, anorexia, mal-digestion, and intestinal lesions. It affects the Shar-pei and Boxer.
- Mediastinal: It is a rare kind of cancer and affects the dog’s chest region. They have their lymph nodes enlarged with visible symptoms. Some of them include the face swelling, enlarged thymus, and cranial lymph nodes. Usually seen in younger dogs.
- Extranodal: This is the rarest type of dog lymphoma. Can affect any area of the dogs body except for lymph nodes.
Getting The Dog Lymphoma Diagnosis
Most of the dogs will have a diagnosis from the lymph nodes that have enlarged. More dog lymphoma symptoms include polyuria and lethargy.
When the pet owner needs proper diagnosis, they will be requested to come with a detailed report of the dog’s history.
When at the animal hospital, the medical experts will perform needle aspiration of the affected nodes to know the Lymphoma level.
What tests need confirmation of the diagnosis?
Most vets will recommend a lymph node biopsy. The best strategy is to know the lymphoma stages. Some of the tests include serum biochemical profile, thoracic radiography, bone marrow evaluation, complete blood count, and echocardiography.
Some pet owners are reluctant to the cardiac examination since they are not aware of the benefits. It is essential for any cardiac abnormalities that will guide changing the chemotherapy plan.
Some of the abnormalities include thrombocytopenia because of bone marrow involvement. Leukopenia involves the bone marrow because of the cancerous cells. The circulating cancer cells bring about leukocytosis in the dog.
Stages and Progression
It is essential to know about the stages to see the level of treatment. There are two main stages of the canine Lymphoma.
- Cytology on lower grades or small cell is known because it progresses slowly instead of the large cell lymphoma. The homogenous population is small but mature. You will not know the difference from the normal lymph nodes, and there is a need for biopsy to know about the malignancy presence.
- Cytology on high grade is large, immature, and close to neutrophil size. When not treated, it can be life-threatening within six to eight weeks. It is systematic cancer since it can be responsive to chemotherapy after some time. The dog can have an attack from low-grade Lymphoma then move to high-grade Lymphoma after the prognosis.
Some of them include cellular atypia, degree of necrosis, mitotic index, and invasiveness. It will be possible to know all the areas affected by the tumor.
- Stage one: At this point, the lymph node will be affected
- Stage two: It involves numerous peripheral lymph nodes located diaphragm side.
- Stage three: This is the point where there is generalized lymphadenomegaly
- Stage four: The two affected organs are the spleen and liver
- Stage five: The affected parts are the bone marrow and extranodal points.
Apart from the stated stages, there are two clinical subtypes.
- Substage A: The dog will not express any clinical signs; it will have normal appetite and energy levels.
- Substage B: At this stage, systemic signs related to the ailment and the disease will be present.
Treatment and Outlook
When the dog’s lymphoma treatment begins, the expectation is that the dog will enter the remission stage.
Before introducing your dog to the treatment, ensure you know the effect of the remission. It will be like the regression condition for cancer; remission does not guarantee a cure.
It means that the dog lymphoma’s signs and symptoms have no tracing from the previous screening tests. Even though the disease is present, it is undetectable.
It is the stage where they can attain partial and complete remission for the dog.
What is the best treatment for dog lymphoma?
The dog will undergo chemotherapy as the first treatment for the dog lymphoma. Some of the additional treatment options include Tanoveao-CA1, Prednisone, and bone marrow transplant.
The vet will prescribe drugs at lower doses for short-term side effects and minimal effect. When the dog has high-grade, the dog suffering from Lymphoma will be on UW-25 or CHOP. More than 70% of the dogs on CHOP will experience complete remission.
Chemotherapy comes in two phases:
- Induction: It happens as scheduled weekly treatments; the dog will be in immediate remission, which is more dose-intensive.
- Consolidation: The treatment is done in less frequency to help to kill the remaining tumor cells. Most dogs will enter into remission after chemotherapy, and for the care, it is only 10%.
When a dog is diagnosed with high-grade Lymphoma, and treatment does not commence, the dog will only have about eight weeks to survive.
After treatment with prednisone, the dog will have about three months more to survive. Ensure that the dog is not put on aspirins since it will cause stomach ulcers.
Prednisone is significant since they kill cancer directly, but long-term use causes drug resistance.
After administering prednisone, the dog will have some changes. Some of them include it will pant more, frequent urination, more thirst, and increased appetite.
It is advisable to allow the dog to drink the required water and urinate whenever it is necessary.
The side effects of chemotherapy offer the best stand and outlook towards taking care of dog lymphoma. They do not last longer like in human beings; about 70% of dogs will not have any side effects.
About less than 5% will suffer to the extent of getting attention from a vet. Some of the side effects are:
- Gastrointestinal: Diarrhea and vomiting are common side effects; they will crop up about five days after treatment.
- Myelosuppression: When the dog undergoes chemotherapy and bone marrow transplant, there are higher chances of damaging the precursor cells. There will be a decrease in neutrophils and platelets.
How Much Does The Dog Lymphoma Treatment Cost?
Most pet owners have concerns regarding the treatment cost. The owners of dogs with Lymphoma need to know that they can spend an average of over $4,000 to extend the dog’s life for another one or two years.
But some spend closer to $20,000 on the treatment and associated bills.
When the owners decide to pursue more treatment, it will come with additional expenses.
When To Say Goodbye
Before you decide to euthanize your dog, you need to know what it entails. In simple words, it means intentionally ending the dog’s life for pain relief.
The dog will not suffer again from the disease since there is no chance of recovery. It is a sad moment for the pet parent.
Some of the reasons to euthanize the dog include:
- Chronic pain: When the vet recommends no remedy for the pain, it will be time to euthanize the dog. It will be a wise decision to relieve the dog from pain instead of suffering.
- Loss of appetite: You will notice this when the dog cannot eat or keep the food down.
- Trouble walking or standing: When the dog cannot walk or stand without assistance, you need time to let the dog go.
- Breathing problems: When the time is near, the dog will show chronic and labored breathing signs.
- Lethargy: The dogs will lose interest in their fun activities such as car riding or toys. It will be time to say goodbye as a pet owner.
Most people will ask where they can euthanize their dog. Some may opt at home instead of the vet.
The owner might not want to see their dogs’ distresses when they are at the vet. Most people prefer their dog to enjoy her life’s final days within the family instead of the clinic.
When done by a vet at a clinic, it will be expensive.
The cost can go up by more than $300, which might be costly for the pet parents. Look for some organization that will offer affordable services. They will be able to come and euthanize the dog free.
When you choose to euthanize the dog, the two viable options include:
- The dog can undergo the procedure that is done by the pet owner, who should be careful. When not done the right way, it can cause more harm and pain to the dog. You need to sedate the dog; after losing consciousness, you can say goodbye.
- When a vet does it at home, they will choose to sedate the dog first then go on with the process. The vet can use phenobarbitone solution through IV; it is the best for rapid response. It inhibits voluntary motor movements and then a cardiac arrest.
How can a dog be euthanized using Benadryl?
Benadryl works as an aid for mercy killing at home. Most vets will use the same drug to euthanize dogs.
You need to understand the dosage; the dog needs to be relaxed, administer Benadryl with the correct dosage, and keep an eye on the dog. The right dosage is for each pound on the dog’s body weight every day. When you surpass the dose, it can be fatal.
When you lose your dog from Lymphoma, it can be a sad moment. It will affect your mental stability; that is why you need to know more about the process.
After death, it will not be easy to handle your routine and errands. Grief and guilt will affect you, mentally and emotionally. Know the process for more comfortable grieving.