Dog Cancer: Recognizing Lymphosarcoma In Your Dog

Armen Hareyan's picture

Dog cancer is back in the news again, this time as a result of a record $30 million fundraising campaign started by the Morris Animal Foundation which will fund canine cancer research at the University of Illinois.

Lymphosarcoma is the most common tumor that occurs in dogs. The malignant tumor is usually found in dogs between the ages of eight and twelve. Unfortunately the cause of this tumor is still unknown and is usually fatal. There are two types of treatments that can be done, if you catch the tumors early enough, both treatments can prolong your dog's life for about another eight months to a year, but these treatments do not cure the dog.

Since the tumor can occur in any organ or location in the body it is hard to decipher the symptoms. The symptoms that your dog will experience will depend in which organ the tumor is found. If you see any major changes in your dog's behavior, or think he has been sick for a while, you should see your vet.

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If the tumor starts in the digestive system you will see symptoms that reflect problems with food in general. This could cause your dog to have prolonged vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss. This weight loss can occur even if your dog seems to be eating the same amount that they always have. The liver and spleen could also become enlarged and this enlargement will make the belly look big.

A tumor in the chest is also a possibility and symptoms to look for here would be coughing and difficulty breathing. If you dog is getting winded doing the same activities as normal that he never used to have a problem with, you may want to keep a closer eye on him. This type of tumor can also affect the tonsils.


If your dog has the skin form there will signs on the skin. The skin will start to show many hard, reddened areas. These areas will tend to ulcerate easily and cause the dog to be in pain. If you notice your dog shying away from a good scratching, it may be because his skin is so sensitive.

Some dogs will get these tumors in their eyes; it can show up in just one eye, or in both eyes. The tumor develops under the cornea in the iris, which may cause your dog to have some loss in sight, or be sensitive to the light, as it may hurt the eyes.

Although all of these places can have tumors, the most common place is in the lymph nodes. The tumors cause the lymph nodes just under the skin to become enlarged. These enlarged lymph nodes are usually located on the back of the thighs, the front of the shoulders, and on either side of the throat by the jawbone.

A dog with tumors in the lymph nodes will still act normal, like nothing is wrong. This is why people tend to not realize how serious the swelling is. If the dog does not act sick it does not cause much concern. This lack of concern allows the tumors time to spread to other body parts and it is the spreading of the tumor that then makes the dog act sick, and causes concern.

At this point you will need to see your vet to have testing done to confirm the presence of these tumors; X-rays and blood studies are usually what are done to confirm the tumors. It is also common for the blood studies to reveal that the dog has leukemia as wells as lymphosarcoma.

There are two types of treatment that can be done. The first is to have the tumors surgically removed. This method is impractical if there are many tumors throughout the body. Your next treatment option could be chemotherapy. Your dog will also probably be given a medication to help them feel better.

Article by Kelly Marshall of Oh My Dog Supplies - your online source for large breed dog beds and dog travel accessories.



I just got home from the vet with my 11 yr. old shihtzu . She has been snoring loudly and even when she is awake sounds like she is snoring. The vet today found a tumor in her throat. She did a biopsy and said she was pretty sure it was melinoma. She said we could take her to UT for a second opinion or chemo. My question is what are her chances if we just remove the tumor and have no chemo. Oh and her lympnoids in her throat are swollen. The node on the left side is about the size of a golf ball. I dont what her to have to suffer but I can t stand the thoughts of having to put her down. I dont want to do chemo because I know that will make her feel awful and chances are it wont help. I was hoping someone out there has had a dog with this and can help me decide what to do.
I just got home with my, almost 9yr old, Lab and I have the same issue. I am seeing a specialist in four days, but from everything I have read, it does not sound good. There does not seem to be a cure and even if you do everything possible, you might only get another 20 months from your pet. I am going to have to way my options heavly, as I want my buddy to live as long as possible, but to live comfortably as well.
hello, I have a 14 year old female Pit Bull terrier, she was just diagnosed with the same condition, she has 4 huge tumors in her throat, one which is spreading to her left right along her jaw bone. She has trouble breathing and feeding, I hand feed her small pieces of bland cooked chicken and hamburger which she eats very slowly in very little. She has trouble swallowing, she collapses often while walking to the yard, cannot stand for long periods or walk much at all. she spends her days in her bed and only raises her head when I hand feed her. At this point, I am going to have her euthanized, she is too aged and week to under go any treatment and cannot even swallow pain medication. it is very sad to see my long time companion and friend. I have no choice but to end her suffering, it is the humane thing to do, leaving her to die naturally with this condition would be torture. I will miss my baby, but I know she will be better off...
Don't let hope cost your dog its dignity. You also need to keep in mind the horrendous suffering you're dog will experience. I made that mistake and it haunts me to this day. I now feel like it was selfish of me to put my beloved dog through all the needless suffering in what I now know was a hopeless situation. I just pray that God and my dog forgives me.
Oh Jim, I know your comment was 18 months ago but i just had to reply.......YES! everyone forgives you. You see it took me a long time to recognize that with every canine companion/family member (I truly love my dogs like my children) I learned something. Each relationship beginning to end was a life lesson that I will never forget, therefore little chance to repeat any mistakes. Your words touched me, I felt the love you lost and a heavy heart but you did what you had to do because it was all you could do, Dog Bless You and I hope you have found a new love.....
Hiya my dog who's 8 is having chemo,I've not seen any changes in him.Hes still his normal self just abit tired. but I'm putting that down to been at vets,he don't settle there and barks the whole time. As normaly he's at home chilling.His cancer hasn't gone but it's shrunk. Thank god he had this treatment or I wouldn't have him now. He been having chemo just over a year
I have found one in my dog also! I will be trying caniabis oil 3xa day!
The best thing anyone can do. Cannabis oil cures cancer in people and animals. I have witnessed it. God bless, you are doing the right thing
Where can you get cannabis oil for dogs?
I know its hard but you need to do what best for your dog. Dont let ur dog suffer. I had to do back in 2008 when my 6 yr old golden was poisoned.I had no choice , her organs were shutting down.It was the hardest thing to do in my life.
My 7 year old Shepard mix was just diagnosed with throat cancer. The vet doesn'tkno if it's squamoscell carcinoma or lymphoma, but told me the prognosis is not good. I'm seeinhg a veterinary oncologist and will have more to report.
Folks, one of my small dogs, 9pounds, lived an extra 14 quality months with the use of Piroxicam. When I refused radiation treatment, the veterinary oncologist told me in exasperation "Well, I GUESS you can use Piroxicam!!!" Asked my general vet about this & he agreed it would be a better choice as radiation BURNS tissue in their mouths and throat that is very painful. Seems Piroxicam works well for canine throat cancers. My little Vinny perked up after 2 days on the pills and started running and prancing again like he was 4yrs old instead of 10... He stayed that way for 14mos, until just a few days before he died, as the cancer had spread to his organs. My vet has seen the terrible, painful damage that radiation can do, with no more time granted, so Piroxicam is a savior for many dogs. Some dogs don’t respond, and as is always the case, research it on the internet. I know how well Vinny responded to it and I am forever grateful that he stayed with us another 14mos and was spry the whole time… I was able to get the Piroxicam from the "Pet Health Pharmacy" in Youngtown, AZ. They mail prescriptions anywhere. I live close, so I was in there every couple of months. They do a great service and make anything you need. They're a compounding pharmacy & have a Women's Pharmacy division as well. My heart goes out to you - my best wishes for you and your beloved dog. Mary in AZ
my dog cloe has lymphosarcoma and is on chemotherapy. she's not eating and her breathing is bad. is there anything to help her? has someone has the same with her/his dog? what happen next? Thank you, please help.
I just came back from the vet after I was alarmed by my silky terrier who cried softly and kept his head sideways. I took him immediately to the vet who suspects a tumor. Can a tumor show up overnight ? 2 months ago Wiski had his vaccines and after a cou[le of days a small swelling on one side of his neck showed up. I took him immediately to the vet who gave him an injection and said it was a reaction to the yearly vaccin. Indeed the little swelling disappeared after a couple of days but today The tumor is on the same spot . Tomorrow I will see another vet. Help, I am heartbroken and really upset.
What are the symptoms we should check for? electric dog fence
My dog has a growth in her throat. We were told that our option was to go Auburn and the specialist could "get it out" (2 years ago) and she could have radiation and chemo for $5000. We love our dog but decided to give her a quality life instead. The lump has grown almost to the size of a softball, but she acts completely normal. When she starts to get worse we plan to get medication and put her out of misery as soon as it gets bad. But I am actually surprised that she is acting completely normal. When she runs, sometimes I can hear her breathing differently and she tends to swallow more than usual but that is all I have noticed. She has lived 2 years past that time, and we are very happy with our decision. She is still as loving and acts like there is nothing wrong. It is sad to lose a pet, but we should all be realistic. You never know how fast or slow they go. Just make them happy, they are here for a short time. There is always a pet looking for a new home and the life you give your pet as a loving pet owner is a wonderful thing. Our choices are all personal decisions but I wanted to share this story with you to give you hope that if you do not choose all the chemo and radiation that your dog may actually end up happier and live longer than you may expect. My dog is 9 year old lab hound mix.
Heart-warming story with a powerful message. Thank you for sharing.
I completely agree. I have an 11 1/2 year old mutt, rescue dog. Probably a lab/pit butt/German shepherd mix. When he was 6 or 7 we took him to get for small lump on lip which was cancerous/ it was biopsies and removed $1,500 later. Over the last year and a half he has two rumors growing in his throat. They started small but are very big now. We knew taking him to the vet would cost a lot and if he did have cancer we decides we would not treat him with chemo. As much as we live our dog we have given him an awesome life for 11 plus years. He has an older brother, a 12 yr old JRT who is his best friend and companion. He keeps him living! I am amazed at how big the tumors are - like 2 softballs in his throat - but he has never been in pain, eats and eliminates on a regular basis, breathes normally, loves to go in his walks and is still very active you should she him run chasing after a squirrel. Our family does not have the money to treat w chemo - yes it would probably be $5000 I we took him to vet, and it he were in pain I completely would. He shows no sign of being in pain and he enjoys every day of his life fully because of the love of his canine bro and our family.
Thank you so much for sharing. Has really given me some hope, even though my springer spaniel turned 15 a couple of months ago. He's my baby. Love him so much.
Hi I was reading through all these coments and found yours dog is 14 she started with a very small lump in her throat I to took her to the vets ,they did say with her age there won't be much they can do they could do a biopsy but all that would achieve is a name for what it could be ,,it is now the size of an apple but she is fine eats sleeps does everything she as always done yeah she sleeps more but that is her age I've been out my head thinking am I doing the right by just leaving it .I think she will let me no when she is in pain but ime just going to let her live comfortably until it's her time to go Jenny is her name
Goto and read my very long blong my dog is doing exceptionally well. His main treatment is steamed honey with baking soda then added to turmeric, ginger, little black pepper, black cumin seeds, cinnamon, coconut oil and msm. 1 teaspoon of each except 4 tspn honey and little black pepper. Sometimes I add oreganum. I use 50ml syringe into mouth. I wait min 1 hr then give medicinal mushrooms 2 caps into raw egg or sardine. I give essiac tea with syringe and dandelion tea with syringe and also add tea leaves to food. Also give moringa tea and echinachea tea. Additionally give colloidal silver. Then supplement with vit d3, vit b12, straight omega3 , ester c, green power, barley power, d-ribose, l-arginine, l-glutamine, sunflower seeds and lastly applecider vinegar overr raw chicken necks and in water. Chicken broth and raw egg helps to encourage ßelf eating of supplements. I used syringe when he was too sick to eat. Only thing is the tumours swell first before they go away. Leo's belly went like a beach ball. Good luck. Goto cancertutor. It is an excellent site.
Thank you everyone for sharing your experiences. I have just found that my dog - 11 years old Lhasa Apso has throat cancer. The tumor is a size of quail egg. He has breathing problems from time to time. It is heart breaking to see him suffer. When he gives me this sad look, my heart trembles. But I have made my mind that i would do the best interest of his welfare and make sure he is not suffering whatever it takes. Esther
I found out on September 26, 2011 that my 9 year old shih tzu had a tumor in his throat. He was diagnosed with squamoscell carcinoma. Surgery was risky because the tumor was located behind the soft palate and tonsils. I couldn't put my baby through chemo and watch him be sick everyday. The doctor prescribed Rimadyl. For three weeks he was doing great and on Tuesday evening he went down. He didn't eat or drink for two days and cried all day and night. I had to put him to sleep on Saturday. My heart broke on November 5, 2011 at 5:12 p.m. I lost a big part of my family.
Our baby, Leo was just four months shy of being eight years old. He was a big black lab that we used to call our big bear. Two weeks ago we took him to through vet after he began to act differently. He was not eating his usual food, he drank more water than we ever saw him drink, he became lethargic, and he seemed to have trouble breathing. We took him to the vet and after 1000.00 in testing that came back inconclusive, the vet told us that Leo has a tumor in his throat. When they opened him up, they saw that it was wrapped around his jugular vein and his carotid artery. Within the next two weeks we took him to the vet twice more, each time the vet told us that this tumor was intensely aggressive and that Leo was suffocating to death. The vet suggested putting him to sleep then and there but we could not do it. It was my birthday and I just couldn't do it! During the next three days we had sleepless nights with Leo, he came to everyone's besides at night as if to be saying his goodbyes. It was so painful to watch and we decided as a family that maybe the vet is right and we couldn't let him die from this tumor choking him to death. We cried so much, my son who grew up with Leo, cried so hard and toid us that Leo is not a dog, he's his brother. Leo was the head of out household, he was always the big guy, our backyard was his.....we lovingly put him to sleep with a huge wrench in our hearts because the other option the vet gave us was twenty thousand dollar surgery, which we don't have, if we did, we would have given it to save him. We know dogs don't live forever but never in a million years have I seen a cancer that can only give you weeks or days to live. Leo began to snore loudly as he was trying to breathe and he wanted to be outside most of the time even when the weather was cold. He began to make gurgling noises as he was trying to breath, by the time we git him to the vet which was only three days later, the tumor had grown and taken up the space in three quarters of his throat. We were all together as he was sedated and then put to was the hardest decision our family ever had to make, he was so precious to us. We took the best care of him that we could and still wonder what we did wrong and why our time with him was so brief. Our house is so empty without him, i miss him so much, even the panting at the end....we all cry because everything in the house reminds us of him. Leo had a crate that was kept open so that he could come in and out as he pleased,the door remains open and it brings us so much sadness that he's not coming home. He gave us so much happiness throughout the years and we could only hope that he was happy. We are riddled with guilt because he gave us a fight going to the vet the last time, and even though the vet says this was the best decision, we just want him home. Leo was a son and a brother, he was the love of my husbands heart, he knew who mommy and daddy were and he protected our family. We always felt safe because he was with us. We miss him terribly and still wonder if we did the right thing. We wonder if he was mad at us because we took him to the vet against his will....these are probably things we will wonder forever. We rubbed him, kissed him and told him we loved him until he left......and now our hearts ate filled with grief as one of our strongest links has left us. God bless Leo and keep him sage and sound until we meet again.....I hate cancer, I hate tumors and I hate that we were so helpless against it!!!!
To baby Leo's mummy and daddy, oh my heart it is pouring sadness after reading your post, I have lost 3 old friends in my life and held their heads in my arms as they took their last breath so I know just how you feel. I am at the moment waiting and hoping that my six year old Lab called Ben who we also call our bear and our first born and also our 3yr old daughter calls her brother, is not well as i have found a huge swelling in his throat and the vets are doing tests to see, fingers crossed it is just a bit of splinter from a stick but we dont know yet!xxx
I'm not sure if Leo wanted me to read this but we will give him the credit.As i'm sitting here tonight my heart so filled with confusion and grief. My Brittney Rose was diagnosis last week.Her vet gave us enough meds to give us a few more days with her.But tonight as i'm trying to type this through my tears,I know what tomorrow brings...Her breathing is failing and she is fighting so hardt to stay and make us happy.That's Brittney always taking care of the family.The thought of coming home to her not being her attach to my leg,I don't know if I can do this?Thank you for taking the time to write about your family and Leo.Someway It might help.I already lost my Mother in January,best friend in March now Brittney all from CANCER!!! I hate this disease...
I'm so sorry about you Leo. I know this is an old post, but I have been looking for help for my sweet girl Ellie who was diagnosed with throat cancer yesterday. She was given a clean bill of health just 1 month ago at her annual check up. How could this happen so quickly? I wonder what I did wrong! Best good money can buy, carrots and apples for healthy snacks ... I even boiled up chicken instead of canned food to put in her kibble. I hiked and walked her regularly. She is only 8! She is a border collie/lab mix ... Thinking a mutt would live a longer and healthier life than our boxer who died at 7 from lymphoma. I must be doing something wrong. No more dogs for me. I just can't handle the heartbreak. Now comes the difficult decision about what to do for my girl. The vet says the cancer is inoperable because it involves the soft pallet of her mouth. She is doing all the things your Leo did, wanting to be outside all the time. looking back, do you have any advice you can offer us? Thank you so much ...
For the love of Leo I am so sorry about your beloved Leo. I could of written this about my Australian Shepherd Cinny who was a foster that I since adopted. I know if it was me. I would feel much for comfort knowing I could feel all the comfort of everyone who loved me while I drifted off to sleep to prance up the stairs over the rainbow bridge. My other two Aussies Zoe and Fifer are up there with leo. Now think of how you would feel if you were alone in the dark while everyone slept. And you don't understand why you can't breathe and you have to pass away in the dark all alone. It takes 7 minutes to die an agonizing death from strangulation. Instead leo was wrapped in a blanket of love. Leo did not lie alone scared and afraid. You did the right thing. The last thing leo saw before he passed was the love in your eyes. You did the right thing. And now I have to do whats right for Cinny even though I don't want to. I know this is what I have to do.
I am heartbroken by your story.. I am bawling my eyes out!! I have two pups.. both 9 and one has a lump in the front of his neck I just found tonight.. He too has been acting strange.. I cannot imagine going through what you and so many others have had to go through.. Our pups too are our children.. we love them sooo much.. God Bless you for doing what was best for your pup... If I have to do that, I am going to have the vet come to my house....
My golden retriever just died of cancer and I know how you feel about Leo. I struggled with guilty feelings of possibly recognizing the symptoms earlier & maybe doing something more for him. But, I am grateful for his quick passing and not suffering through chemo or days of pain. I prayed to God that he would be merciful on my beautiful dog and take him quickly. God did that for my dog. Dogs are truly man's best friend. May the mercy and grace of God be with all of those who post on this site and give each and every one peace of mind and comfort while dealing with terminal doggy cancer.