November 7th is Canine Lymphoma Day. Canine lymphoma may not be a fun topic, but it is an important one. This is one of the most common cancers we see in our canine companions. A local Bourne, MA vet offers more information below.
This awareness day was started by dog trainer Terry Simons, who lost his beloved furry companion, Reveille, to lymphoma. He started the annual event back in 2005, to help raise awareness about canine lymphoma. Simons also started CLEAR (Canine Lymphoma Education Awareness and Research) to raise awareness about this deadly disease.
The word lymphoma is actually a blanket or umbrella term that includes more than 30 types of cancers. (Multicentric lymphoma, which initially affects the lymph nodes, is one of the most common ones for dogs.) All lymphomas are related to lymphocytes, which are white blood cells that help fight infections. Lymphoma cancers initially affect organs, tissues, or cells that are part of the immune system, such as bone marrow and lymph nodes, but can spread to other organs, such as the spleen or liver. It’s worth noting that different types of lymphoma vary in both severity and progression speed.
There’s no one known cause of lymphoma. However, certain factors seem to increase the risk. These include things like chemical exposure, viruses, and bacteria. Pups with compromised immune systems may also be at higher risk, though this hasn’t been definitively proven.
Because lymphomas can affect many different organs, the early warning signs can vary. Some of these include enlarged lymph nodes; diarrhea, which may be very dark and/or stinky; skin masses; breathing difficulty; increased thirst and urination; reduced appetite; swelling of the face or legs; lethargy; and dry, flaky skin. Contact your vet immediately if you notice any of these, or if anything just seems off with Fido.
There are treatment options for cancer. However, they are not one-size-fits-all. The best course of action can vary drastically from dog to dog, depending on where the cancer is, how far it has progressed, and how quickly it’s spreading. In some cases, it may be managed as a chronic issue. In others, it spreads very quickly. Your vet will be able to offer specific information and treatment options based on your pet’s diagnosis.
As your Bourne, MA veterinary clinic, we’re dedicated to offering great veterinary care. Contact us anytime!