What Causes Dog Lymphoma?

November 17th, 2009 by Paul Johnson

Last year our family dog Rex, started getting very restless at night with heavy panting. He also was drinking a lot and he started losing his appetite for food, so we decided to take him to the vet. The vet noticed a tumour growth in his mouth. We had him stay overnight to have some of his teeth and the growth removed that had been bothering him. The next day we got a call from the vet, that during the surgery she felt some lumps in his throat area and she suspected cancer. I cried that day because I knew he wouldn’t be with us much longer most likely. Test results came a few days later and the vet said it appeared to be positive for dog lymphoma.

Lymphoma is cancer of the lymph nodes and happens in both humans and dogs. You can detect it by looking for lumps in common areas where the lymph nodes are located at. Our dog was already suffering from many fatty tumours throughout his body for most of his life, so it would have been difficult for us to realize he had lymphoma. He had the lymphoma lumps under his throat area.

You have two choices with a dog with lymphoma. Either give chemotherapy or just give him prednisone which isn’t a cure but helps temporarily shrink the tumour. We decided to not pursue chemotherapy because it costs thousands and usually only extends the life of the dog for a few months and our dog was already 11.5 years old. Life expectancy is only a few weeks on average without chemotherapy.

We took Rex home and we decided to try to give him the best time for what he had left. I wanted to fight it and tried everything I could think of to improve his health and maybe somehow fight it. I decided to even give him that prescription food by Hill’s diet, specially made for dogs with dog lymphoma. We also gave him healthy mix of food and vitamins in addition to it. He gave us 3 more weeks of his life. He seemed much better from the prednisone until one day he suddenly lost his appetite. He quickly then got very sick and barfed if he ate any food at all or even if he had a tablespoon of water. He also started getting diarrhea at about the same time. With the advice of a vet we decided it was time to humanely put our friend to sleep. I still miss Rex to this day and that was a year and half ago.

I never thought dog lymphoma would be the cause of my dogs eventual death, but apparently it is a pretty common disease in dogs. Dog Lymphoma seems to be partly caused by genetics because some breeds are more likely to get it. Golden retrievers are the most likely to get it than any other breed. Our dog is german shepherd mix. German shepherds are also one of the breeds that have a higher likelihood than the average dog breed to get lymphoma.

When I was searching for ways to naturally help with Rex while he was alive I started reading websites about how the rate of dog lymphoma has increased by a large percentage the last few years. I recently came across a study that I believe explains why dog lymphoma is even more prevalent. A study done back in 1992 (Cancer Res. 1992 Oct 1;52(19 Suppl):5485s-5488s) says that lymphoma has increased by 50% in the last 15 years. They cite multiple studies where certain pesticides, especially one type in particular, increases risk of lymphoma. They have also cite how dog lymphoma has been associated with lawn pesticide treatments using these chemicals.

I believe strongly that if you want to help prevent your dog from having lymphoma then you have to do a couple things. If you look at commercial dog food it is full of corn, wheat, and other ingredients full of pesticides and none of it is organic. These pesticides are getting in our food supply and causing cancers. I recommend you buy organic foods for yourself and your dog at a place called Only Natural Pet Store. Organic dog foods contain no pesticides of any kind including the meat sources. I also think you should avoid using herbicides or pesticides on your lawn or backyard where your dog plays. You also have to be careful about taking your dogs on walks because it means he will be running through lawns that may contain. Unlike humans, dogs like to rub their nose and fur on the grass etc. when they walk on lawns, so they are more susceptible to ingesting the pesticides than us.

  1. mari washburn on December 16th, 2009

    Paul, First I would like to say I am sorry for your loss. We had a 2 year old male yellow lab. The day after we visited the vet for his annual vaccines, we noticed lumps all over his body. Our worst thoughts came true when the vet verified it was lumphoma. He was given 6-12 months on the good side. We choose the chemo treatment. He went into remission the first treatment and we continued for 6 months. Our lab lived to be 12 years old at which time he succumbed to the effects of an enlarged heart, which the treatment for this was far worse than the chemo. We were told by an onocologist that they beleive the cancer awakens (since cancer cells are found in all) due to the proteins in the vaccines. We stopped giving all our pets shots other than there initial puppy/kitten vaccines.

    If you think about it, humans have childhood vaccines but they do not continue throughout our lifetime, so why our pets? (big money maker) When your cat gets vaccines you sign a waiver explaining the possible effects, they stopped giving cats vaccines in the neck and now they give them in the rear hip, the reason as explained by a vet technician, it is easy to amputate a leg.

    So we can all speculate, but I am a firm believer that the vaccines have a large part in this problem. We have 3 other friends whose pets have also been tragically succumbed to the same cancer within 3 years of our experience. The odd coincidence was we all were going to the same vet!

  2. admin on January 1st, 2010

    I agree that vaccines might be a cause of it and other diseases. I no longer believe in vaccines for humans or animals after reading more about them lately.

  3. Sue on June 16th, 2010

    Our 6 year old golden retriever Maggie was just diagnosed with lymphoma. She has an appointment with the oncologist in two days. She has all of the symptoms as Rex: panting, swelling in neck, loss of appetite and weakness. We do not have the money for chemo…I lost my job a year ago and unemployment just isn’t enough. We are leaning toward just prednisone treatment. We are wondering what food to give her. She is refusing to eat dry food but is eating wet food. We can’t afford prescription canned. Any suggestions?

  4. Jack on July 7th, 2010

    I know that there has been a lot of speculation and no proof concerning complications caused by vaccines. Lets not forget though that vaccines have had a hugely positive effect in both humans and animals. Maybe the best practice would be to use vaccines sparingly; to pick and choose the big ticket illnesses that you do not want your pet facing and also pick the illnesses that they are most likely to get. I know now that I wished I had my dog vaccinated for Lyme. They know Epstein Barr virus is linked to at least one type of lymphoma. Epstein Barr is a close cousin to Lyme. My dog had Lyme and now 7 years later has Lymphoma. He is in his final days of life now and it kills me that I was hesitant about getting the Lyme vaccine; I never gave it to him. It is arguable whether it works but I still think I should have done it.
    Cleaning up the diet though is a very good idea. Keeping your pet clear of chemically treated lawns and other areas is a good idea.
    As much as I love my boy I will never be able to have another pet. I could never watch another best friend go through this again. The pain of losing him that I am feeling for him and for myself is worse than all the other pain in my life, and I have lived a lot of life. I’m a real hard-as-nails type person but this little guy got deep inside my heart. The only thing that will see me thru the rest of my life is to believe there is a here-after and that he and I will be together again – together again forever.

  5. Beatrice on November 27th, 2010

    I just lost my dog to lymphoma last week, she was eight years old. She is a Brittany Spaniel and should have lived at least 13=14 years maybe longer. She was diagnosed October 13th. The Vet gave her two months to live. We did not want to put her through chemo, we opted for predisone. Her appetite picked up than slowed down than I started cooking her food and added supplements I thought I could give her more time.
    But the last week she really slowed down. She was done with the predisone and we were going to put her back on them but it did not work for her. The lymphoma just got worse.
    Well my dog was diagnosed with lyme about four years ago. And at that time they also administered the lyme vaccine. I was told by the vet this will help prevent her from getting more lyme in her. The last three years she never showed any symptoms of lyme or anything else. My husband continued to hunt with her and she did very well. Last May I took her to the vet and they said That my dog needed another lyme vaccine. and I told her I did not want it, but she talked me into it. And she also administered a rabbi vaccine at the same visit. I had the feeling that something was not right the next month. I really believe the vaccine did something to her immune system causing her to get lymphoma.

  6. marianne on April 17th, 2011

    My dog died at 7 years old from auto immune hemolitic anemia. She was bleeding to death inside. This was caused by her body’s immune sstem going haywire because of innoculations. My dogs from now on get their first shots and booster and that’s it!!!!Damn shots! Killed mt beloved airedale mix!
    and to Jack above…..why don’t you look at it another way …instead of thinking “I can’t deal with the loss again” be selfless and go to the shelter and save a dog form death row!

  7. Annie on June 17th, 2011

    My beautiful cairn terrier 8 years, had just had a relapse from Hemolytic anemia. She was almost finished with her treatment which was Prednisone.She started the initial treatment with prednisone 6 month ago and did well,but now it is back and we have to start all over. I feel so bad for her.
    I am convinced this all started a few years ago when a vet gave her all her vaccinations plus her rabies shot in one sitting even if she was warned not to..2 days later she got very ill and had to go to the hospital with symptoms the “new” vet said could be rabies symptoms. Her immune system was just shot and she also got meningitis.it took her 6 month to be herself that time.
    No more vaccinations for her. When you think of it there is only one dose of any vaccination but many sizes of dogs….Do they ever half it for small dogs???
    Don’t get vaccinated every year. it is NOT needed