Canine Lymphoma

I recently loss my 5.5 siberian husky to cadiac lymphoma. In the last 2 weeks of her life, we were trying to figure out why she wasn’t eating and barely driking.

We were going back and forth to Purdue Univ (animal teaching hospital) trying to figure it out. We did bloodwork, sonograms, body x-rays, MRIs, etc. The only thing we discovered was a mass/tumor on the heart which appeared to be benign. All tests were negative for cancer.

2 weeks later, she passes away (during one of her visits) at Purdue. They did a necropsy and found lymphoma in her heart. NOT at the lymph nodes, but at her heart. Its an educated guess whether or not the mass/tumor on the heart caused the cancer. And removing the tumor was not an option.

My question (to vets or anyone else familiar:

  1. Have you ever seen or dealt with cardial lymphoma?

  2. The lymphona was on the heart and did NOT show up in any scans. Would you have tried to remove the mass/tumor?

  3. Would you have recommended radition/chemotherapy?

  4. If not radiation/chemotherapy. would you have advised a different plan? If so, than what?

  5. What were typical remission times with radiation/chemotherapy?
    Since the cancer was discovered at the necropsy and not before, we never had the chance to make any decisions.


I am not a vet but a pathologist (for humans) and have a 6-year-old black Lab whose lymphoma recently recurred and has a less than 2-month life expectancy.

I am sorry about your dog, Omar. That’s way too young to lose her.

Aside from the location of your dog’s tumor which probably made surgery a very risky option, surgery is rarely used in treatment for lymphomas, which commonly occur in multiple sites and (in humans, anyway) often respond well or are curable with chemotherapy, targeted drugs or immunotherapy.

Canine lymphoma diagnosis and treatment by comparison seems to me to be in a relatively primitive state. The standard treatment for B-cell lymphomas in dogs is CHOP (basically, chemotherapy) which knocks down lymphoma and can induce a remission lasting a year or possibly more, but the disease is regarded as incurable (our dog went into remission but it lasted about 11 months).

It sucks.

Hopefully better drugs will be available down the line.


First of all, I am so very sorry for the diagnosis of Lymphoma in your 6 year old sweet Lab.

My girl was only 5.5 years. 2 months later, and I am still devastated by her loss. I would have been able to stomach it alot better if she had been closer to 12-14 years. Also, my wife and I are “one of those” people that do not have human kids but instead opted for fur kids.

Thank you for your kind reply! As what probably happens with a lot of people, I have googled the heck out of the affliction that has affected my life. Someone told me that “understand and accepting this information & supporting facts” is part of my grieving process and closure.

Your academic mind (and others in this field) would probably appreciate the following info:

Morphologic Diagnosis:

Heart: Lymphoma
Kidney: metastic lymphoma
Liver: chronic congestion, hepatic atrophy
Spleen: hemosiderosis
Lungs: pulmonary edema and congestion

Gross Diagnosis:

Heart: neoplasia
Liver: hepatomegaly, passive congestion
Pericardial/peritoneal cavities: effusion
Lungs: edema and congestion

Normal limits:

Esophagus, stomach, pancreas, small intestines, sciatic nerve, skeletal muscle, urinary bladder.

Comments on necropsy:

The neoplasm effacing the heart is likely lymphoma. The changes to the lungs and liver are likely secondary to congestive heart failure due to the deterioration of the myocardial function by the tumor.
We had noticed more of a “stoic” nature in her last 2 years. She would still go on walks, pull hard on the leader (being a siberian husky with a bad parent), and exploring at the dog park. But if she could take any opportunity to “chill and hang out with mom & dad”, she would. She would rather “trot” than “run”.

The oncologist at Purdue told me that other than the discovery of her tumor on the heart, my pressing the panic button 2 years ago (due to her stoic and mellow nature) would not have changed any outcomes. He told me that anything directly related to the heart, whether chemo, radiation, or surgical resection, would have been EXTREMELY risky and he would not had advised it. He said even tapping the heart for a biopsy would be risky. Not only that, but he told me that in the last 2 weeks of her life, he couldn’t even diagnose the lymphoma. It wasn’t until the necropy was performed that he discovered it, based in the heart.

The day I brought her in for additional internal medicine testing (June 15, 2016), Purdue was aiming towards a thyroid issue. I didn’t know that would be the last day I would ever see her alive again. I guess like you, Jackmannii, I wish I could have “bought” myself 11 more months instead of having that chapter in my life close within a matter of hours.

I know she is gone and nothing can ever change that, but I guess asking and seeing if others have ever experienced my circumstances would make me feel better. If anything, maybe someone reading my story will help someone in the future.

If anyone has their own story to tell, please feel free to chime in on my pity party.

Thanks for listening.

In 2014, we were treating our beloved Sadie (some sort of pit bull/hound mix, physically robust and very beautiful) for osteoarthritis in her left hip. The cause was almost certainly that she had suffered a crushing injury before we adopted her that had not been treated. Years before, we had had her hip surgically repaired when the X-rays revealed the extent of the damage, but at the time the doctors warned us that eventually the hip would likely deteriorate and arthritis set in. When she was around eleven years old, that fate was upon her.

We tried everything. My wife, who loved her utterly, patiently took Sadie to acupuncture, laser treatment, massage, swim therapy (that was a mistake, she feared the water), hot compresses, cold compresses, and more. For the first half of 2014, she was on two painkillers, an anti-inflammatory, and what the vet described as a “nerve blocker.”

Sadie put up with this with some eye-rolling, and seemed mostly happy. We bought her a doggie stroller – hard to find for a 60-pound dog – and rolled her around the neighborhood, where she lived up to her nickname, “the Mayor,” by greeting all her constituents assiduously.

But toward the end of July of that year, late at night, she would breathe loudly in her bed. We thought her pain meds needed to be upped again, and did so. But finally at the end of July, she was breathing hard every time she laid down. She breathed normally when standing, but standing is hard on a dog with a deteriorating hip. My wife decided the breathing problems needed to be addressed, and in the middle of the night, took Sadie to the emergency room.

Where a “huge tumor around her heart” was diagnosed via ultrasound.

Apparently it’s not unusual for a mass inside a dog’s chest to press on the lungs when lying down, making breathing difficult, but appear relatively asymptomatic when standing up, according to the vets.

And so we decided to let her rest. I drove like a maniac through the dark, bringing her favorite toy and a jar of peanut butter. Do you know how hard it is to find a place that sells peanut butter at 3:00 am?

For a long time afterward, we were hollowed out.

But we take comfort in our belief that the drugs she was on for hip pain – painkillers, anti-inflammatory, and the “nerve blocker” – for the last six months or so of her life meant she suffered little pain from the thoracic tumor. In a way, the arthritis was “lucky” because it got her treated with meds that (we hope) blunted the effects of the tumor, aside from some heavy breathing toward the end.

We took her in at around 2.5 years of age, and kept her happy until 11. Despite our grief, we are better for having known this brave, funny, incomparably loving companion.

I am sorry for your loss.

Lymphoma isn’t usually treated with surgery. They give chemo (CHOPS) which most dogs tolerate quite well, and most go into remission for around a year. Which is a big deal for a dog. I wouldn’t hesitate to do it unless the dog was terrified of vets or there were other mitigating factors, because of course quality of life is far more important than length.
Some companies have come up with immunotherapy based treatments for dog lymphoma that looked promising, but they all failed in later clinical trials.


I really appreciate you sharing your story about Sadie. She sounds like she was extremely loved!

If you don’t mind me asking, how long were you and your wife “hollowed out” for? It just seems like after 2 months, I am still pretty numb.
In regards to the tumor on the heart and/or lymphoma, I was hoping to get others in here to share their factual stories, as well as sharing their heart.

Thanks to everyone for listening!

Sorry you lost your buddy. I lost mine last August to lymphoma, and since the first tumor was in the centerline lymphatic system, the options were very limited. (Typically, if the first nodule is in an outer lymph nodes, you use aggressive treatment to halt it there… but once it spreads to the center/abdominal nodes, it’s game over.) So my boy was done for before we finished figuring out that scary “why isn’t he eating” phase. We opted for massive prednisone and support drugs, and got maybe ten good days and ten declining days before The Day.

I think cardiac lymphoma is much the same, in that once it’s in the center of the body there’s very little that can be done, even with a young, strong dog and unlimited budget/skills.

It’s the roll of the dice with dogs, especially with breeds like Goldens that have a high prevalence.

It took me six months to decide I wanted a new boy, and several more months to find one. He’s busy chewing up a cardboard tube under my feet right now. Punk.

Amateur Barbarian,

Thank you for sharing your story, and I am so sorry for your loss.

If you don’t mind me asking…

How old was your boy when he passed away? Was it all of a sudden that he stopped eating/drinking?

Finding out AFTER she passed away…and not even having a fighting chance…I guess I feel like I failed my fur baby.

Thank you for listening and replying.

The latest boy was only 8-1/2, but he was a Dane. Another breed with longer expected longevity, and I might have tried more aggressive treatment, but a year of intensive treatment to get about a year to two years more… no. Not fair to anyone. As I said, we got one very good week on the pred, one more time for every sweet and silly thing, and then a week of decline, and then off before he was humiliating himself. Hard one - hardest in 40+ years of dogs.

I had two Goldens, the latter of whom was hit with a very sudden and very fast-moving abdominal cancer. She had gone down with Old Dog Vestibular Syndrome earlier in the year, and recovered, and thus we had some warning and some more good weeks, and when she went down again and the x-ray showed “buckshot” all through her chest and abdomen, we let her go right there on the table. Another hard one. She was almost 14.

My prior Golden just… stopped one day. Don’t know why. I had taken my kids to the park and came home to a freaked-out wife, and the girl was just… gone. Again, at about 14.

My new boy, a blue Dane, is almost four months. We rode home from New York, and as wonderful as that time was, I couldn’t help but think of the other trip that was not-enough years in the future. Dogs. Damn dogs.

A long time. We put a lot into our relationships with our animal companions, and get a lot in return. The price is, well, what we’re talking about here.

Sadie was my wife’s absolute favorite of all time, and a rock at the center of the family.

I’d say we were in distress for the better part of a year, and of course we will feel sad about the abbreviated time we had with her forever.

But I firmly believe it’s worth it for all parties concerned. Sadie was pulled off death row from a kill shelter in the south, and we got the privilege of living with this fantastic personality for 8.5 years.

Thank you both for sharing with me.

It lets me know I am not somewhat insane for dreading “the first thanksgiving, first xmas” etc, without her.

Its gonna be a rough year.

I think I will go over to the bbque pit and pit the hell out of cancer.

I don’t have the answers to your questions, but I am so sorry that you lost your Husky as such a young age. Losing a pet (or a kid, to many of us) is never the same for any two people, so I can’t say I know exactly how you feel. But I do know that the loss is real and very painful. As with losing a human family member, life won’t even be the same again.

But I would like to offer you some advice, for what it’s worth…no matter how much you learn about your dog’s condition, prognosis, possible treatment or anything else, it’s not going to bring him/her back! What you are doing is part of the normal grieving process, but you need to reassure yourself that you were a wonderful Pet Parent and had 5.5 great years together.

In 2011, my 8yr old Golden Retriever died from a condition known as “Bloat” (clinical name- Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus). It was a cool, sunny October day. I took him for a walk and to use the potty, then left him on the front porch (where he loved to be) while I ran some errands. I came home three hours later and found him dead. I was heartbroken, confused and angry along with a dozen other emotions.

My veterinarian performed a necropsy to confirm cause of death. I immediately began all of the “'what if” questions…what if I had been home, what if I hadn’t left him outside, what if…ad infinitum. My vet assured me that there was nothing I could have done to prevent it. Because he was asymptomatic that morning before I left, there was no way I could have known anything was wrong.

I was heartbroken…more devastated than I have ever been over a human death, to be honest. Letting myself grieve and feel the pain was necessary to cope with the loss. After I got past the feelings of guilt (leaving him alone, what if?), I moved on to depression and, eventually, acceptance. I still miss him like crazy! I swore that I would never get another dog, but as fate/luck would have it, a friend called me about eight months later to tell me about a 4yr old Golden that she was fostering. She asked if she could bring him over to visit and I reluctantly agreed, but reasserted that I had no interest in getting another dog! Long story short, he didn’t go back home with her that day and he’s laying on the bed next to me as I type this! But I still inadvertently call him by my dead Golden’s name all the time…

Again, I’m so sorry for what you’re going through. I hope you can find some peace.

I am truly sorry to hear about your Lab. In my adult life, I’ve had a Black Lab and I’m on my second Golden Retriever. Cancer has always been a fear because it is far too common in both breeds. My Lab lived to be 14, but my last Golden died from ‘bloat’ when he was just 8yrs old. Both losses hurt like hell…and they still hurt!

But 6yrs is really a raw deal and I’m so sorry about your Lab’s prognosis. Without trying to sound cliche, try to enjoy the time you have left. I’ve been in the situation where I had a few days between my pet (a cat, in this case) getting a fatal diagnosis and having her euthanized before she showed any signs of suffering. I spent every moment with her, loved on her and even talked to her about it. Taking her to my vet to be euthanized wa the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, but it was also my final act of love for her. I really hope you have some quality time with your Lab in the next two months.

My heart and my thoughts go out to you.

Hi Guys,
(fat-fingered the post, so the edit window may terminate me into making this two posts, sorry!)

I can commisserate with you all, having lost my male greyhound to osteosarcoma on 8/1. He was a total teddy bear, only 10 years old (greyhound life span is 12 - 15 years), golden fawn with black brindle striping, and fur as soft and the finest velvet. I could never just pet him, but instead had to wrap myself around him. Fortunately he tolerated being hugged.

Edit window, yep.

Anyway, osteo is one of the very few known issues with racers. All of the canine cancer studies that focused on greyhounds (thanks to Ohio State University among others) haven’t solved it yet, but they have found a high correlation of osteo showing up in specific bloodlines. They were able to identify the racing sires most known to “throw” dogs that later died to osteo. A champion called Dodgem by Design was the one with the highest correlation, another one was called HB Commander.

My Ajax had Commander on both sides of his pedigree. So I knew his risk was high. I know SOOO many people who have lost greyhounds to osteo, probably 9 out of 10 people I know. Whenever either of my dogs seemed to have pain in their legs, I would insist that the vet xray them. It never occurred to me (although it’s logical in hindsight) that the osteo would occur somewhere else. Like in his spine, which it did. Husband and I are both devastated by it. The vet neurologist commented that it was a sad truth that the good ones die young while the nasty biters seem to live forever. I think she was just trying to show sympathy, but there was truth there. Despite being in excruciating pain at the end, he was the most patient, sweet, and tolerant boy and never attempted to lash out like many injured animals do.

I was the only one with him during his agony and although I’ve hinted about how horrible it was to my husband, I don’t want to torture him by sharing the experience. But I do want to tell someone. If you are a vet or doctor, you may find this next part clinically interesting. (I’m strong enough to observe these things rationally, even though my tears and heartbreak.) I will describe it clinically.

For some time (a couple of years) we’d noticed that he was slightly dragging his back feet and wearing down the toenails. The vet would do that neurology test where you flip the foot over and see if the dog puts it back in the correct position before putting weight on it. He always did this correctly. (Does this work on humans as well? I doubt it because our feet don’t bend in both directions like dogs and cats feet do, but I could be wrong.) We were treating him with NSAIDs and pain killers, but the week before he died, his pain increased so the vet told us to increase his meds and schedule an xray and MRI. The xray was just supposed to be to make sure his heart and lungs were strong enough for anesthesia during the MRI. This was Thursday.

On Thursday night, I noticed a large lump on his back, between his shoulder blades. And his pain level was still noticeably high. He was a sad boy. We had the diagnostics scheduled with the neurologist on Monday morning, and dragged ourselves through the weekend. He was having trouble even stepping down one step out of the back door to go potty. I was massaging his neck and back on occasion, the only thing I could think of to help him until Monday. He had to fast after midnight on Sunday night, so his last dose of meds was at midnight. I believe missing his meds - and probabably the NSAID specifically - at 6am on Monday is what caused the sudden, catastrophic failure I’m about to describe.

He was in a ton of pain, but we were able to lift him into my car for the trip to the vet. Husband had to go to work, so I took our boy to the neurologist by myself. I called them when we got there to ask for assistance getting him out of the car. I didn’t want him to hurt himself further by jumping out. He did not want us to lift him out, but we did anyway. The vet tech assisted him into the examination room with a sling under his tummy. During that walk into the office I noticed him significantly dragging his back toes. He was also in kyphotic posture (had been that way for about a week, but now it was significantly pronounced).

All of this paragraph took place in about 5 minutes: In the exam room, waiting for the vet, he could not lay down, but was trembling, drooling and panting irregularly, and standing in kyphosis and occasionally taking a few steps. After a few steps, I noticed that his back feet were dragging so much that he actually put weight on the back of one foot momentarily before righting it. Then he lost his bowels. I quickly cleaned that up and as I did so, I noticed he’d taken a couple more steps forward and was now actually standing on the backs of both back feet, clearly in pain but unable to correct his foot position. Then he collapsed down onto his haunches, showing even more pain. I grabbed him around the chest and wrangle him down onto his side on the dog bed, and as I did so, he whined a little and got an erection - a very unfortunate physical response to extreme pain. When the vet techs came a few minutes later to take him back for the diagnostics, he was completely paralysed on the back end, and they literally had to drag him out using support slings.

At that point I texted my husband to say “come to the vet now”. Work can wait. I knew it was “time” and he needed to be there. The xrays came back showing that (I’m guessing on the vertebra number) his first thoracic vertebra spinous process had blown out into an egg-shaped swiss cheese about the size of a baseball. It had collapsed the spinal cord and was not in a location where it was operable with any reasonable odds of success. No need for MRI at that point.

As hard as it is to euthanize a beloved pet, I am angry at the universe for forcing me to endure that hell of watching him suffer agony like that, being unable to do anything other than ask him to be patient until the vet came in. (The vet’s staff was awesome and gave him a morphine shot as soon as they could.)

Just a side note: there was recently a study of almost 3,000 dogs in three groups that showed a very high correlation between lymphoma and… yard pesticides. Something like 270% increase in canine lymphoma if owners had commercially-applied pesticides for grubs etc.

The Mrs. is a lawn-obsessor and we’ve had commercial yard care (all but mowing) for years. I steadfastly refuse to assign blame for my Dane’s case, but I did categorically refuse to allow further treatments at least while the pup is young. Yard is like most in the rural northeast anyway - kind of ratty in the summer no matter how much treatment you dump on it.

Word to the wise owners, though. Nix the powerful lawn pesticides.

Thank you for the kind words! I am ranting/crying more in my other thread (MPSIMS), so I will try and keep this one more “General Questions Factual”.

I realize its different for everyone person, but how long did your depression last before you moved on to acceptance?

I have read that the amount/time of grief will correlate to the importance/intensity of the relationship. If that it the case, I am in for a “bumpy & LONG” ride.

My childhood dog, Nala, was euthanized in 2008 due to lymphoma.

She was a Pekinese/Cocker Spaniel/Poodle mix that I’d had since I was a small child. We were moving from OK to TX and had her boarded at the vet.

The vet called the day prior to us picking her and our other pets up and told us that she had a swollen lymph node and that blood tests showed that it was Lymphoma. This was in May of 2008.

We moved down to TX and she was stable for a few months before her breathing got bad due to the swelling and we decided to let her go.

Since she was in her early teens the vets didn’t want to take any drastic measures and we agreed. If she had been younger we might have tried chemo, if the vet gave her a good chance of making it.

I read, re-read, than AGAIN re-read your post. It made me cry each time. I am so sorry that you and your Ajax had to endure that day on 08-01-16.

I am so extemely sorry for your loss.

I don’t know if you can relate to me, but I am haunted by the day that Emma passed away. We were still trying to figure out what was wrong with her. I remember overly-hugging her in the conference/exam room. I remember the hospital tech leading Emma away in the hallway, while I went the opposite way to the waiting room. Naturally, she want to go with me, but I told her “to go with the nice girl, and everything will be all right.” Watching her walk away from me in that hallway, while telling her that lie, will most likely haunt me forever. Mostly due to the fact that I never thought that moment would be the last time I would ever see her alive again.

Logically, and eventually, this grief and those last minute memories are supposed to be overcome and overwritten with the joy that we shared over 5.5 years.

We shall see.

It’s funny you mentioned that.

After Emma’s necropsy report came back with the cause being lymphoma, I asked the oncologist if the Weed-B-Gone that I had used 1.5 months prior to her death had been a cause/trigger.

Him: You used it 1.5 months before?
Me: Yes.
Him: Do you mean…like once?
Me: Yes.
Him: As in…once in her lifetime?
Me: Yes. We have always had a crappy lawn, but this time the weeds were out of
control and I didn’t want the HOA to get after me. We didn’t really care about
our grass.
Him: Um, no. Chemicals like that are suspect, but you would of have to exposed
her more than once.

I later realized how silly I sounded as I was grasping for answers and blame.