symptoms of final stages of canine lymphoma
Image source: ASPCA Pet Insurance

Lymphoma is one of the most frequent types of cancer in dogs, accounting for roughly 20% of all cancers detected. Fortunately, it is one of the most curable cancers, if the symptoms are discovered early. Here, we’ll talk about the symptoms of the final stages of canine lymphoma, and measures you can take for treatment. 

What are the Final Stages of Canine Lymphoma?

Canine lymphoma progression is divided into five stages depending on the severity of the disease. Your veterinarian may be able to diagnose cancer in your dog by palpating the lymph nodes and aspirating a sample to make slides for testing. A board-certified pathologist then examines these slides.

More extensive testing is required in cases where a dog has progressed to end-stage lymphoma. This could include abdomen ultrasounds, chest X-rays, or bone marrow testing.

The Five Stages of Canine Lymphoma

Stage 1:

There is only one node involved.

Stage 2:

There are multiple nodes affected on either the front or back half of your dog’s body.

Stage 3:

Multiple nodes on both the front and back halves of the body are implicated.

Stage 4:

Involvement of the spleen and/or liver.

Stage 5:

This stage covers all of the involvements as well as bone marrow. In rare circumstances, only the bone marrow may be affected, with no other organs involved.

Symptoms of The Final Stage Canine Lymphoma

While lymphoma is highly treatable, the prognosis is heavily dependent on how early it is detected and treated. The sooner your dog begins treatment, the better his or her chances. Annual physical checkups with your veterinarian will aid in the early detection of any health issues.

It is also critical to be familiar with dogs’ common warning symptoms of lymphoma. Make an appointment to have your dog inspected if you detect any of these symptoms.

#1. Nausea, vomiting, and loss of apetite

Lymphoma in dogs is characterized by nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite.

If your dog has been eating less than normal or has refused food entirely, he is most likely not feeling well. If this is accompanied by recurrent gagging or vomiting throughout the day, it may indicate a major health concern.

#2. Weight loss

Take note of sudden, unexplained weight loss.

Weight loss in your dog that is sudden or quick should always be addressed carefully. Especially if you haven’t changed your dog’s regular routine or nutrition much. This could signal that your dog hasn’t been eating or it could signify a more serious health issue. This is one of the most obvious symptoms of lymphoma in dogs.

#3. Depression

Depression in your dog could also indicate a physical health issue.

When discussing your dog’s mental health issues, you may not instantly see the connection to its physical condition. However, if your dog does not generally suffer from depression, the emergence of these symptoms could indicate an underlying health issue. Keep an eye out for any additional signs of disease in your dog and check with your veterinarian to rule out any significant issues.

#4. Lumps 

Lumps are common symptoms of canine lymphoma in its final stages.

If you notice a round, hard lump on your dog’s back, neck, abdomen, or armpit that wasn’t there before, it could be an indication of danger. While some dogs will develop softer-to-the-touch fat deposits, hard lumps may indicate a concern. Consult your veterinarian if you are unsure.

#5. High fever 

A high or persistent fever is an indication of serious illness.

A healthy dog’s body temperature ranges from 101.5 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Canine fever is not usually a “stand-alone” symptom, so keep an eye out for additional signs and symptoms. Contact your veterinarian if your dog has a temperature of 105 or higher or has had a temperature for several days.

How Do Symptoms Change Based On The Various Stages?

Lymphoma is a systemic disease affecting a much larger portion of the body than localized cancer. The number of lymph nodes or organs involved is used to determine the lymphoma stage.

While these stages may influence your dog’s symptoms, there are further subcategories that further describe symptoms experienced by the patient.

Substage A: The dog exhibits no visible signs of disease.

Substage B: The sickness is interfering with the patient’s daily life. Symptoms include loss of appetite, tiredness, weight loss, increased thirst, and so on.

The most typical stages for dogs are 3 and 4, and many canines that begin in Substage A will move to Substage B and begin to display symptoms of their disease. Dogs who begin treatment in Substage A, on the other hand, have a considerably better probability of long-term survival.

Lymph Nodes Pet Owners Can Check

If your dog has lymphoma and is in Substage A, keeping a watch on their affected and non-affected lymph nodes can be a useful means of following the advancement of their malignancy.

In general, your vet will keep a close eye on the advancement (changes seen) of the cancer cells at a microscopic level by doing fine needle aspirate (FNA) biopsies on your dog’s lymph nodes on a regular basis and monitoring the activity of the cancer cells. However, you can use your proximity to your dog to monitor their health.

Some lymph nodes are easily accessible for pet owners to examine for swelling, and depending on the location of the originally impacted lymph nodes, a pet parent can assist in tracking those nodes and alerting their veterinarian when swelling develops or decreases during therapy.

The following lymph nodes are easily accessible:

  • Submandibular lymph nodes: Located beneath the jaw and are referred to as such.
  • The Prescapular lymph nodes: are located in front of the shoulder.
  • The Axillary lymph nodes: are located in the armpits.
  • Popliteal lymph nodes: located behind the knee.
  • The Inguinal lymph nodes: are located on the inside of the thigh.

Discuss with your veterinarian where they are placed on your dog and what to watch for so that you can feel secure in monitoring your pet during their lymphoma therapy.

Some veterinary oncologists may not consider this a necessary aspect of monitoring because it is not nearly as accurate as the measurements available in labs, but for some pet parents, it provides a sense of control over a situation that is almost wholly beyond their control.

Different Types Of Lymphoma And Their Common Symptoms

There are four forms of lymphoma, and each patient will experience symptoms that are unique to their circumstance.

The predicted symptoms of the four forms of lymphoma might be extremely different, as they effect the body more strongly in other locations. We’ll go over some of those symptoms, starting with the most common and working our way down.

#1. Multicentric

This is the most common type of lymphoma, and it is also the most clearly systemic, affecting primarily the lymph nodes and immune system. Multicentric lymphoma in dogs causes more general health problems than some of the less common variations.

Symptoms include:

  • Swollen lymph nodes 
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy

Aside from swollen lymph nodes, several of these symptoms could indicate another disease or even an emotional conflict in your pet. If you detect these symptoms prior to a diagnosis, consult with your veterinarian to see if there is anything to be concerned about and to do any necessary testing.

#2. Alimentary lymphoma

Alimentary lymphoma is cancer that arises in the gastrointestinal tract. As a result, many of the specific symptoms become more localized rather than multicentric.

Dogs suffering from alimentary lymphoma may exhibit one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Appetite loss
  • Weight reduction
  • Lethargy

While alimentary lymphoma may not technically cause pain in your dog, the symptoms are unpleasant for both your pet and anyone cleaning up after your pet. The discomfort of recurrent stomach troubles will cause most pet parents to consult with their veterinarian; this is something that pet owners will want to get a handle on as soon as possible in order to return their dog to a comfortable existence.

#3. Mediastinal

A rare type of lymphoma that affects the respiratory system and has the least optimistic diagnosis in the lymphoma category, many of these symptoms necessitate an emergency visit to a veterinarian or animal hospital to avoid major complications.

Mediastinal lymphoma symptoms include:

  • Symptoms of respiratory distress (difficulty breathing or getting enough air)
  • Edema with pitting on the head, neck, or forelimbs
  • heightened thirst, and urination

If your dog has trouble breathing that isn’t caused by heat, exercise, or a choking hazard, getting them to a vet as soon as possible can be the difference between life and death. If you see pitting edema on your pet’s body, please treat it as an emergency and manage it as soon as possible. Pitting edemas are frequently a symptom that your pet is stressed and will require more serious medical intervention immediately.

#4. Extranodal

Extranodal lymphoma is the most uncommon type of lymphoma in dogs. Cutaneous lymphoma, which affects the skin, is the most prevalent and well-studied subtype within this rare category.

Cutaneous lymphoma symptoms include:

  • Skin cancer lesions
  • Ulcers
  • Nodules/Lumps
  • Plaques
  • Patches of reddish color
  • Scaling areas
  • Hair thinning
  • Itchiness
  • Skin that is thicker and may leak fluids

While skin changes do not always indicate that your dog has lymphoma, it is usually a good idea to consult a veterinarian if any new skin irritations arise.

How Long Does End-Stage Lymphoma In Dogs Last?

Dogs with untreated lymphoma or those on steroids for palliative care had a two-month life expectancy. The median survival time with chemotherapy is eight months to one year, but some dogs can live for two years or more.

What Causes Death In Dogs With Lymphoma?

Malignant lymphocytes migrate to adjacent lymph nodes via lymph vessels. All of the nodes will soon be expanded. Internal organs such as the liver, spleen, and bone marrow are impacted as the disease advances. Flu-like symptoms worsen, eventually leading to the patient’s death.

How Does Prednisone Work For Dogs With Lymphoma?

Prednisone (a steroid) will cure approximately 50% of dogs with lymphoma, although remission is only 2 to 4 months.

In Conclusion,

The final stages of canine lymphoma symptoms include vomiting, weight loss, high fever, depression, nausea, etc. Consult a veterinarian as soon as you notice these symptoms to commence treatment.

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