View Full Version : Dog with Lymphoma - what to expect?

Feb. 14, 2010, 11:05 AM
I posted last OT day that my dog 7 year old Rhodesian Ridgeback was NQR, not eating well and losing weight. It took us a couple visits to the vet to get the diagnosis. He has liver and spleen involvement at this time. We have chosen not to do chemotherapy, but he is on prednisone to allay his symptoms and give him some appetite. Has anyone gone through this with their dog? And, more specifically, if you went the non- chemo route, what was your experience? I'm mostly concerned about his quality of life at this point, he seems happy and I want to keep him that way as long as I can. I'm not sure how this thing progresses, and how long I can keep him going. I've read/heard everything from weeks to months.
Thanks for your replies.

Feb. 14, 2010, 11:15 AM
Hi, I am so sorry you are going through this. Our first boxer was diagnosed with lymphoma after i noticed a lump on her chin. At first we hoped it was from an infected tooth, but biopsied it and found out it was lymphoma. She was 8 1/2 at the time and we chose not to do chemo as a boxer's life expectancy is on the shorter side (8-10) years. The vet said she could have as long as 6 months without treatment.

I am sorry to say that it was about 2 months after she was diagnosed we made the decision to put her down. She would always go out one last time before bed and come in the stairs and put herself to bed before my dad could even lock the door. Her last night she came in from going out and just went and layed down on the living room floor. My dad couldn't coax her up. So in the morning he took her do Dunkin Donuts for a few munchkins (her favorite) and then took her to the vet. It was awful.

I am so sorry. I wish I had more encouraging words for you. It was terribly painful, but she told us she was ready.

good luck:sadsmile:

Feb. 14, 2010, 11:30 AM
I'm very sorry for you and your dog. Lymphoma is NOT good news! I had a lab (8 years) that had this - and we chose to put her down as soon as she was diagnosed.

Your ridgeback is already 7 - considered old for the breed. There is no cure, and this spreads very quickly. It's painful and dibilitating. I think you've got a very tough decision ahead of you.:sadsmile::sadsmile::sadsmile:

So sorry!

Feb. 14, 2010, 11:40 AM
My cattle dog was 14 when her symptoms showed up. I decided to go the no-chemo route and just keep her comfortable.

After less than I week, I put her down. She had a tumor that made it difficult for her to lie down comfortably and she was having difficulty breathing.

I think you're making the right choice with your dog. It's not easy but you'll know when they've had enough.


Feb. 14, 2010, 11:45 AM
I had an Aussie who was 8 when she was diagnosed. We also decided not to do chemo and just keep her as happy and comfortable as possible. She had about two more good months before she passed away, but she was eating and playful to the end, if beginning to get a little out of breath. Chemo might have given her up to another year, but we didn't want her to have to spend that time at the vet's.

So sorry about your dog --it's a tough diagnosis. :(

Feb. 14, 2010, 12:13 PM
We have had the unfortunate experience of having two dogs in our lifes being diagnosed with Lymphoma.

My mom had a wonderful, senior Beagle named "Bagel". She was adopted as a senior from our local shelter, and was probably 14 when they adopted her. She was in good health, but while up here visiting us, noticed a lump on her throat, by three days later, most of the lymphnodes in her body were engorged. They took her to the vet as soon as they got home, and she was diagnosed with Lymphoma. Due to her age, they opted out of any kind of aggressive treatment, and decided to go with prednisone to make her comfortable. We joked that poor Bagel looked more like Monkey Bread than a Bagel. She stayed comfortable for a little while, but it was fairly quick between getting diagnosed and making the decision to let her go peacefully. She got to the point where just moving around the house was difficult. She lived out her short time being spoiled and loved. They had her for a short time (just over a year I believe) but she lived in a loving home, and didn't pass in the shelter with strangers.

We also had a Blue Heeler that passed this last year out of the blue, and the necropsy showed very advanced Lymphoma involving the liver, spleen and leisions on her brain, which is most likely what caused the "sudden death". She had shown NO syptoms, had no outward lumps, and was a healthy 7 yr old Heeler. She way laying on my side of the bed (on the floor on her blanket) and started to almost seize, by the time my feet hit the floor, she was gone. I did try to revive her, but she was likely gone within seconds. Our vet called it sudden death, and can happen when brain leisions are involved. She basically threw a clot, or stroked out. Thankfully, she went quickly, and peacefully, and never suffered due to her lymphoma. It was however very nervewracking as we waited for the results of the necropsy worrying that she had ingested a toxin or something that would affect our other four legged critters. Not much we could have done for her, and even had we known, we most likely would not have subjected her to chemo.

Good Luck, do your best to make him comfortable, and spoil him rotten. You'll know when its time.

Feb. 14, 2010, 02:10 PM
I'm so sorry to hear this. My mother and stepfather lost their two Bassets to lymphoma six months apart. One of them showed symptoms for over a year, though the final diagnosis came right before they put her down. The other one seemed perfectly healthy until he would not eat one day. After a series of tests they got the diagnosis. A week or two after that they put him down. Both of them were too advanced for chemo by the time they were diagnosed.

It's impossible to know how long he will stay comfortable and cheerful, but you will know when he is no longer enjoying life. I'm so sorry.

Feb. 14, 2010, 02:24 PM
My first dog, Quinn, a black lab/golden retriever cross, got lymphoma at age 10. I was the one who found the lumps on either side of his throat, and told my mom they weren't normal. Well, he went to the vets, and got tested...

We put him on Prednisone (sp?) and he was fine for a year, and then it got really bad. It was worse I think, because the bigger the tumors got, the more they closed off his airway, so his breathing got very labored when he did any sort of physical activity. He waited to die unitl the family was at home, and passed in his bed, after all of us had said goodbye.

I am very sorry, and hope that your dogs last days are filled with joy.

Feb. 14, 2010, 03:06 PM
My wonderful Rottweiler was diagnosed with lymphoma at age 6, it was benign but after a year it spread causing seizures and liver failure.

I chose to put her down immediately after the second seizure and discovering the liver failure and don't regret it for a minute, as much as I miss her. She was in a small amount a pain which would have been managable with prednisone. the liver failure as well could have been managed with medications, however, the lumps continued to grow and spread and I couldn't bear to watch her in any amount of pain.

Good luck with your decision, give him lots of love and make his last days as comfortable and happy as you can.

Zu Zu
Feb. 14, 2010, 03:09 PM
So very sorry ~ Jingles for your dog ~~ thoughts and prayers for all involved ~ cherish your time together .

Feb. 14, 2010, 03:17 PM
It's horrible to go through. In March of 2008, I had my 11 yr old Shar-Pei/Doberman mix in for her annual physical, and she was pronounced fine. Three weeks later I noticed a lump on her throat. I took her back in, and it was lymphoma. I chose not to go the chemo route since all it does is delay it, and why make a dog who hated going to the vet, go to the vet that frequently? At first she seemed fine, but then she stopped eating, and was less active. Every day I went home expecting to take her to the vet. After a month, I made a standing appointment which I would cancel if she was ok when I got home. I finally made the decision to keep the appointment, and when I got home, she was in terrible distress - I had waited a little too long, though she had seemed fine when I left for work in the morning. A vet told me "better a day to early than a minute too late", and I was a minute too late.

If you notice your dog panting a lot (and it's not hot, or a normal behavior), it means they are in distress, and it could be time.

Good luck, be strong for your dog.

Feb. 14, 2010, 03:56 PM
I'm so sorry about your dog. I lost my 11 year old lab to lymphoma this summer. He was my heart and soul. I did put him on the chemo. I was told that labs did well with the treatment. The 3rd session killed him. He came home laid down and wouldn't get back up. He would not eat. My other lab just laid with him. I knew I couldn't let him continue this way and we put him to sleep. Saddest day of my life. I wouldn't recommend the chemo, I would just put him on the pred and let him feel good until he doesn't. So sorry.

Feb. 14, 2010, 04:01 PM
I lost both a dog and a cat to lymphoma. The latter, way back in the early 70s, I just let her be until she quit eating, then put her down. The dog- well, vet talked me into chemo. She tolerated it well, but I wouldn't do it again- she was only in remission for a couple of months, not worth what she went through (and it is REALLY difficult to watch chemo that you KNOW is unpleasant, while the dog is smiling and wagging its tail at you the whole time).

With lymphoma, as with anything else terminal, really- I just keep 'em comfortable, they let me know when it's time. Better a day too soon than 5 minutes too late.

Feb. 14, 2010, 05:09 PM
Thank you all for your replies. He has some generally enlarged nodes, but really his only symptom was his lack of desire to eat dog food and lethargy. I"ve been doing handstands for close to 2 months to get him to eat. He will eat people food. We chose not to do chemo because he gets so stressed out going to the vets we literally have to pick him up and carry him through the door into the office, he won't walk on their floors (shiny laminate). Even with the weight he's lost, he's 95lbs , used to be a hefty 120lbs. :( He does not go passively either, it's a struggle.
When the time comes, I know a vet who will come and put him down at home.

Feb. 14, 2010, 07:54 PM
When the time comes, I know a vet who will come and put him down at home.

Good plan. I much prefer having a vet come to me for such things. When the aforementioned dog needed putting down, the vet that had treated her came to the house, and even helped me dig the grave in the back yard.

Feb. 14, 2010, 08:19 PM
My experience with dogs with lymphoma (this is having just come off the oncology rotation) is that many, many dogs are acting normal and healthy when they are diagnosed. Most of these dogs have just lymph node enlargement. I'm sorry yours has liver and spleen involvement too -- that does mean it is more advanced in stage (at least Stage 4).

Unfortunately, without chemotherapy, you're really not looking at a long survival time, especially with Stage 4. The prednisone may make your dog feel more comfortable at first and may even seem to help with the enlarged lymph nodes and even make him more hungry, but don't be fooled into thinking it's helping the disease. It's not. The disease will come back, and it will make your dog feel much sicker. At that time, you should consider euthanasia. This is not a nice disease to die from. I'm glad to hear you have something worked out already with your vet.

For what it's worth for everyone else out there, know that chemotherapy CAN offer a much improved quality of life for dogs with lymphoma. You can offer a much longer lifespan with chemotherapy (up to and over a year in some cases), and the side effects are not as bad as you may think, though they are there. No, you're not curing the disease. You are, however, giving the time they have left potentially feeling much better than they started with.

One of my patients was a Stage 5 (the worst) lymphoma police dog who was terribly sick. The owners were contemplating taking him home to die, but he started responding to the chemo after only a few treatments. When I saw him, we did an ultrasound of his abdomen and all the tumors that had taken over his organs had shrunk to the point where they were unrecognizable. He was barking, happy, and working. Not all dogs will respond as favorably to him, but it really goes to show that even advanced stages can be treated with success.

I'm really sorry for the unfortunate diagnosis. I'd say enjoy your pup in the time you have, value every day, and you will know when the time comes.

Feb. 14, 2010, 09:26 PM
I've lost 2 dogs to cancer, and I'm so sorry for you. It is hard. My second dog had an oral cancer which made it difficult for her to eat, and I also spent a lot of time coaxing her to eat. I tried soft, fatty, moist and stinky foods like Vienna sausages and canned chicken. She simply would not eat much, and lost weight very quickly. It was very hard to watch. I didn't do chemo, as the roughly 24 hours she spent at UPenn for diagnosis made it clear that she was miserably unhappy there. I might choose differently today, and I'm not saying either choice is the right one. Please take care of yourself. I remember the desire to escape what was going on, and the guilt at wanting to get away.

Feb. 15, 2010, 07:38 AM
Thank you all for your condolences and advice. I'm not ok with it, but I'm ok...if that makes sense. I'm just spoiling him rotten. He's never been allowed on the couch, now he can cuddle up there with me all he wants, he sleeps under the covers on my side of the bed. Whatever he wants to eat, he gets. His pat/scratch quota per hour has gone through the roof. ;) I'll do whatever I can do to make him happy for whatever time he has left.

Feb. 15, 2010, 07:55 AM
I adopted a blue tick fox hound (likely a pmd) from a shelter in maine. He had been tied out for 2 years then lived with them. He despite his life was friendly, animated and outgoing. I tried a kennel one day with him and he made it clear he wanted to be a house/ bed dog. He would meet us at the door with his booming voice telling us all about his day. He brought us so much joy.

One day when running with him he cut the circle short and didn't want to run one night. Husband called me at work saying "something's wrong with chuckie he didn't meet me at the door". I hoped beyond hope it was lyme and while we waited (as he had pain) know it likely wasn't we made him comfortable.

The prednisone worked beautifully giving him 2 very good weeks of pain free life. He slowly started to deteriorate his energy level the primary symptom.Then he had a single chemo shot that was to give him approx 3 more months. It didn't. I believe he had the more virulent form. Less than 2 months from diagnosis he let us know it was time. He was PTS in the back seat of the truck (his seat) and the kind vet gave him about 15 minutes of sedation so as exhausted as he was his last 15 minutes were spent pain free enjoying a good rubdown and pat from me. I didn't cover him on the way home but let him "sleep" peacefully-he needed to do so . He is in our backyard with the rest of the family.

I tried the herbs, supplement, natural treatments. None provided ANY benefit. I also looked into chemo, posted on our local sites, joined a yahoo group. The cost of chemo (I live in MA ) for six to 12 months was prohibitive and in my heart now I don't believe I would have gotten a year. I am aware chemo doesn't have a lot of side effects in dogs.

Prednisone has two sides. You benefit from symptom relief anywhere from weeks to months but you need to be careful for stomach upset and other side effects. Higher doses may affect response to chemo according to what I read and oncologists to whom I spoke. You will know when things turn-it will happen quickly. Chuckie started slowing down and I knew the pred wasnt working. My son home from college he perked up for the week and then as my son headed back chuckie went and lay down and I just knew . He died the next day.

My thoughts are with you. Sorry for the long note but I think there are stories to be share and you should know that not doing is as right as doing treatment.

Feb. 15, 2010, 08:20 AM
I'm so sory you have to go through this, it's a tough disease, both for the dogs and peole who love them. Pred is a wonderful thing, it usually gives you enough time to come to grips with what is happening, and spend some time spoiling them. However the vast majority of time it will not signifigantly increase their lifespan.

In cases where the patient has no signs of organ involvement (early stages) I, like Pancakes, would highly reccomend at least trying chemo. Most dogs tolerate it very well, and there are far fewer side effects than for peopl undergoing chemo. A lab mix named Sam was our best case senario, and her owner got 2 good years with her after diagnosis. We started her with an injection of Elspar, and then Doxyrubicin once every 2 weeks for about 6 treatments. She went into remission for a year, then we restarted treatment, this time with Vincristine after the Elspar. The nice thing about Vincristine for those who's dogs hate staying at the vets, it's a come in get the injection and go home sort of deal. For a dog that really streses at the clinic they don't have to stay there, which makes it easier on everybody. Apparently the clinic I work at must have a pretty good reputation, because we're just a regluar office but we've had a couple vets 'refer' their lymphoma patients to us for treatment.

Vet Tech

Feb. 15, 2010, 08:28 AM
I had a lab/pitbull cross who was diagnosed at 12 years. We chose not to do the weekly chemo at the vet's, but instead, opted for prednisone daily, and chemo pills, given at home. Seven pills, every three weeks, picked up by prescription from the local 'human' pharmacy. Cost was about $55.00. Chemo does not seem to make dogs sick as it does human, and she lived another 13 good months before we had to make the dreaded decision.

Lazy Palomino Hunter
Feb. 15, 2010, 09:35 AM
My parents had a dog who developed lymphoma when I was a child. They went the chemo route, and my mother drove her 1.5 hours to get chemo several times a week for 15 months or so.

That said, I fully support your decision to go the non-chemo route. If I was in the situation, I would do the same- lymphoma isn't curable :(, and I really think it's tough to put a dog through something like chemo. Especially because they can't understand why it's happening.

You're doing the right thing. ::hugs::