Lymphoma is a difficult cancer, with treatment that can extend your dog’s life, but the most important thing is their quality of life. Having a sick pet is a position no pet owner ever wants to be in, but sometimes we may find ourselves in such a situation. Should the worst happen, how do you know when to euthanize your dog?
When to put down a dog with lymphoma
Lymphoma generally progressing quickly, with a dog having just a few weeks if they do not receive treatment. If your dog has advanced stage lymphoma with symptoms such as breathing problems, weight loss and weakness, the kindest option may be to euthanize your dog.
Lymphoma is a type of cancer that affects the immune system, most commonly found in the lymph nodes, spleen and intestines. Since it can be found anywhere in the body, the prognosis is different depending on what type your dog has and how advanced it is.
Swollen lymph nodes may indicate lymphoma and dogs have several of them:
- Under the jaw
- Chest, in front of the shoulder
- Under the armpit
- Behind the knee
If you think your dog has swollen lymph nodes, call your vet as soon as possible. It could be a sign of infection which is easily treated, however, it may be lymphoma which needs to be diagnosed as early as possible. Other symptoms may include a reduced appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice (yellow gums and eyes) and breathing difficulties.
Is there a treatment for dogs with lymphoma?
This depends on the individual dog, how aggressive the cancer is, how far it has spread through the body and which symptoms it has caused.
If the cancer is advanced, your veterinarian may advise that euthanasia is the best option. Palliative care may be offered, such as treatment to control your dog’s symptoms, which can extend your dog’s life by several weeks, but you should consider what quality of life your dog would have.
Chemotherapy may be an option for lymphoma if it is caught early. Chemotherapy works by attacking the cancer cells, slowing the rate of growth and reducing the size of the tumors. There are no guarantees that this treatment will extend your dog’s life as each dog reacts differently. Prognosis may be as little as a few weeks or as long as a year.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for lymphoma. Treatment simply attempts to slow its progress and prolong your dog’s life. Your dog may experience mild side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy.
The most important consideration is how the treatment will affect your dog and whether prolonging his life is in his best interests. Although chemotherapy may allow him to live a little longer, would he be pain-free, comfortable and happy? It is an incredibly hard decision to make, but your veterinarian can help to guide you through your options and help you make an informed decision that is in the best interest of your dog.