Common Symptoms of Canine Lymphoma

November 19, 2021
3 min read

Article Highlights

  • The most common symptom of canine lymphoma is swollen lymph nodes.

  • Other common symptoms of lymphoma include: fever, weakness, dehydration, and anorexia.

  • Symptoms of canine lymphoma are easily mistaken for symptoms of other canine diseases.

Facts about canine lymphoma

Canine lymphoma, similar to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in humans, is the most common type of canine cancer. In fact, certain treatments for canine lymphoma are identical to those used on humans. In both dogs and humans, lymphomas attack lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell.

There are more than 30 known types of canine lymphoma; however, the most common type is multicentric lymphoma, which targets multiple organs/systems within the patient. Multicentric lymphoma accounts for ~80% of all canine lymphoma cases; other types of canine lymphoma include alimentary lymphoma (lymphoma of the gastrointestinal tract) or cutaneous lymphoma (lymphoma of the skin).

Swollen lymph nodes

The most common symptom of multicentric canine lymphoma are swollen lymph nodes. Typically found underneath the jaw, swollen lymph nodes are usually painless. When touched, they usually feel rubbery and move freely under the skin. Other common places for these nodes include the chest, groin, and behind the knees.

Consistently petting and touching your dog is a helpful way to check for any new lumps on its body. Not to mention, your dog will appreciate the extra affection! Be sure to note any rapid swelling or changes in existing lumps.

Other common symptoms

While swollen lymph nodes are the most common symptom, the following could also indicate that there is something wrong: 

  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Fever
  • Anorexia
  • Dehydration
  • Edema (swelling of the face/legs) 

    Is it lymphoma, or is it something else?

    Ultimately, canine lymphoma must be diagnosed by a veterinarian. The symptoms of canine lymphoma can be similar to those of other canine diseases, complicating diagnosis. When the lymphoma is localized to one area of the body, e.g., gastrointestinal system or bone marrow, the symptoms are often treated as another disease, rather than as cancer. If you suspect something is wrong, or that your dog is in pain, consult your veterinarian.