No pet owner is ever ready to hear their dog has been diagnosed with lymphoma. The process of diagnosis and treatment can be draining for both you and your dog. Treatment may cause discomfort, and you may see lower energy levels in your dog. During this time, it is important to take note of how your dog’s life is changing, and to make subtle adjustments to improve their quality of life.
Dogs are creatures of habit and enjoy having routines. Although treatments and their side effects will become new elements of your dog’s life, try to keep the rest of their life consistent. Your dog’s normal meals may now also include supplements or pills, but keep meal time the same as it has always been. Their walks may now be shortened, but you do not have to completely eliminate their normal exercise routine. Limiting sudden changes in their daily routine and home environment will help maintain consistency and reduce their stress.
Lymphoma treatment can be physically draining for your dog, and you may notice they are more lethargic than usual. Exhaustion and weakness are side effects of treatment, not a change in who your dog is. They are still the fetch-loving, playful pup they were before diagnosis, but now they might just move a little slower. Instead of eliminating playtime from your dog's routine, try modifying it instead. Rather than having them chase their ball all the way across the yard, trying rolling it on the ground or bouncing it just a few feet away. Puzzle toys might also be a positive change. These interactive toys will entertain your dog, giving them the playtime they love without requiring them to exert a lot of physical energy.
Your veterinarian and oncology specialist are great resources. Talk with them about what you should expect regarding changes in your dog’s activity, appetite, and behavior when undergoing treatment. Stay observant to recognize if your dog is in pain, and ask your veterinarian about any unusual behaviors you notice. Your veterinarian may also recommend diet changes or adaptions to give your dog the energy they need. Communicate with your veterinarian frequently throughout the treatment process.
Dogs are compassionate animals and can sense when their best friend is upset. A lymphoma diagnosis sparks many emotions—fear, anger, confusion, sadness, etc. Your dog does not understand the details of how lymphoma affects their body, but they do understand the changing emotions of those around them. Find joy in playtime, belly rubs, walks, and quality time. Your dog will pick up on these positive emotions during this difficult time. Focusing on these happy moments can be stress relievers for both you and your dog.