It’s never a good day when you find out that your best friend, your fur baby, has been diagnosed with canine Lymphoma. Your precious pet has cancer. Why is the world so cruel?
It can be a terrible feeling to hear your vet say the words, “We found something on the blood test.” But we understand the struggles you’re facing and we know you have questions. You have so much to learn on how to choose the best option for your pet and for your family. Your dog having lymphoma can be confusing and emotionally taxing.
That’s why we want to help shed some light on what exactly that lymphoma diagnosis means for your pooch.
To answer in short, it’s a cancer that attacks white blood cells in your dog’s body. It’s a mutation that happens to certain white blood cells called “Lymphocytes.” People have them as well. When these blood cells are working properly, they prevent diseases from spreading by fighting infection where it starts in order to protect the body from life-threatening illnesses. Imagine there’s a cut on your pet’s paw. They step in some dirt and now it’s infected. These white blood cells prevent that infection from getting into your pet’s heart.
Typically, the lymphocytes are the good guys. Unfortunately, the good guys always have the hardest fall when they go bad. The body trusts them, so the white blood cells become a greater threat. When those cells turn cancerous, they mutate to overproduce. Because of this, they start attacking different parts of the body.
The lymphocytes live in lymph nodes when they aren’t needed. There are 5 major lymph nodes that you can see on the outside of the dog’s body, and more that are inside. And blood is everywhere… so the effects could be in almost any place, including unseen within the veins of your precious pet.
When a dog’s abnormal white blood cells start to multiply, their immune system loses strength–those cells aren’t doing their job anymore. So if any infection were to come into play, the immune system doesn’t have one of its first lines of defense.
Don’t we know it. It’s heartbreaking any time that a pet is diagnosed. Cancer is cruel and doesn’t have any respect for the love that our pets unconditionally give us.
It’s hard to say what causes lymphoma because it is one of those diseases that is hard to catch early on. One of the reasons stems from dogs being pack animals. They have the survival instinct ingrained in their systems that if they are sick they shouldn’t let the pack know, so as not to be left behind. They won’t show you any struggles until they have to.
It may be so subtle that you wouldn’t recognize it as more than a little bit of fatigue or a more regular need to go out to urinate. Oftentimes, the discovery of lymphoma comes because of a routine blood test. Or because a pet parent noticed a swelling or swollen lymph node and went to get it checked out.
There are a few that have been linked to the cancer, the obvious one being genetic predisposition. Certain breeds are more likely to succumb to lymphoma than others. (Unfortunately, Golden Retrievers are super likely. 1 out of 8 Goldens will be diagnosed in their lifetime.)¹
There has also been a link found between garden pesticides. Pets who live in homes that regularly use pesticides are more likely to be diagnosed compared to dogs from homes with more natural-based landscaping methods.² Not a lot of pet owners think about their pesticide choices, but dogs play in the grass that you use them on. They roll around and have a great time. Then they come back inside and set out to clean themselves by licking their body that has just rolled in the grass. Lo and behold, your pet is ingesting pesticides.
Some believe that homes with a high density of above-ground power lines may cause an electromagnetic field; a canine lymphoma study found that pet owners who lived in this type of home setting had been more prone to being diagnosed with Lymphoma.³
I’m sure it’s unsurprising, considering everything we know already about the habit. But being in a home with a smoker can cause cancer to develop in your pet. Though the connection is not as clear as the other options, smoking is one of those causes that is always on the list but still around. Second-hand smoke will make the people and animals around you sick. As a smoker, you are putting a damaging substance into your body and the body of those you keep closest to you.⁴
We’re sorry to say, but lymphoma is a cancer that can’t be cured. But that’s not to say that all hope is lost!
Lymphoma is a systemic disease, meaning that it doesn’t exist in one spot on the body the way that a cancerous tumor does. It’s not a cancer that you can just remove and hope all goes well, but you can treat it with chemotherapy. And successfully.
A well-chosen chemo treatment finishes and a dog goes into remission. That extends both their duration and quality of life. They can go back to their old selves and feel good for months to a full year or more. Whereas untreated dogs only make it about 1-2 months.
And you’re lucky to be around in a time like today where technology and science have advanced as far as we have. And in a world where ImpriMed is here to help. Lymphoma grows over time, both in intensity and strength. It’s a cancer that evolves and learns to overpower treatments as time goes on, the same way that white blood cells working properly grow and learn to overpower germs and infections.
ImpriMed has developed a process that uses artificial intelligence and the experience of other dogs in the past to use the information we receive from your vet to identify the best chemotherapy treatment for your pet specifically.
ImpriMed is able to provide a Personalized Prediction Profile that uses your dog’s live cancer cells to create a hyper-specific approach for your pet. It predicts how they will respond to popular treatment regimens so that your vet will have every tool in their arsenal available to give your dog the best life they can.