Lymphoma is a form of cancer that develops in the lymphocyte cells of your pet's immune system. Lymphocytes are types of white blood cells that are essential in helping protect the body from illnesses. There are two forms of lymphocytes, and they are B and T cells. While lymphoma can affect either type, it mainly affects B lymphocytes in dogs and cats.
How Lymphoma Affects Your Pet
Just as with any other form of cancer, lymphoma in cats and dogs is a serious pet health concern and can be fatal. Fortunately, it is also a form of cancer in pets that is quite treatable, and around half of pets affected by the disease can be put into remission. Since lymph tissue exists within any organ of the body, feline and canine lymphoma can occur most anywhere in pets. However, the most common areas are the gastrointestinal tract and the chest. If your pet develops this disease, it may experience an upset stomach or difficulty breathing depending on where the cancer is located. Research has shown that pets rarely die of lymphoma, itself: They die of such things as liver damage, kidney failure or respiratory failure. In fact, death can occur quickly in untreated dogs, with many of them dying within two months of contracting the disease. While chemotherapy can extend your pet's life, infections and nausea are common side effects.
Common Symptoms of Lymphoma
The symptoms that your dog or cat will experience if it has lymphoma depends on where the cancer is located and how advanced it is in its development. However, the following symptoms are common to various forms of lymphoma. If you notice your pet displaying any of these warning signs, you should visit your veterinarian right away. Common Symptoms of Lymphoma in Pets: Loss of Appetite/Anorexia, Weight Loss, Generalized Weakness, Lethargy and/or Depression, Sleeping More Often Than Normal, Vomiting and/or Diarrhea, Difficulty Breathing, Lameness in the Hind Legs and Swelling of the Lymph Nodes.
Treatments for Lymphoma
Again, just as with most other forms of cancer, there is no cure for lymphoma in pets. However, there are treatment methods that can help to make your dog or cat more comfortable and extend its life. Chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery are the most common treatment methods for feline and canine lymphoma. If your pet is severely dehydrated, hospitalization and IV therapy may be necessary. If there is excess fluid in the chest cavity, your vet will remove the fluid. Your dog or cat's medical provider will discuss all of these treatments and their side effects with you to help determine the proper path for your pet.
While lymphoma can develop in most any breed of pet, there are a few breeds that seem to be more vulnerable to the condition. Most vulnerable breeds to Lymphoma: Bulldogs, Boxers, Scottish and Airedale Terriers, Golden Retrievers, Saint Bernards, Siamese and Domestic Shorthairs.
When adding a dog or cat to your family you want to make sure your pet is happy, healthy and protected. During its lifetime your pet is exposed to many illnesses and diseases and some breeds are affected by a congenital disease which is a condition existing at birth. At these moments when your pet is ill or maybe needs surgery, you want to be protected for the unexpected and high veterinarian costs.