What Causes Canine Lymphoma?

Recent studies are shedding light on possible factors.

November 19, 2021
3 min read

Article Highlights

  • There is no one answer to the causes of canine lymphoma.

  • Genetics play a role in lymphoma development.

  • Environmental hazards are also a factor.


If your dog has been diagnosed with lymphoma, you might be asking “Why?” Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question. Various treatments have been developed despite the causes remaining unknown. However, through decades of research, experts have found potential factors related to the cause of canine lymphoma.

Genetic Factors

It is commonly accepted among cancer researchers that genetics play a role in the development of canine lymphoma. The reason this is accepted is that while lymphoma is found across a variety of breeds, the cancer is more common in some breeds than others. For instance, Beagles, Boxers, German shepherds, Golden Retrievers, and Poodles are among the breeds more likely to develop lymphoma. Genetics, however, is just one of the factors currently being researched as a cause of canine lymphoma.

Environmental Factors

Studies suggest that the ubiquitous presence of pesticides may play a role in causing lymphoma. When dogs roll around in the grass and then lick their coats, they may be swallowing the hazardous chemicals used in pesticides. Potential exposure to a variety of harmful chemicals is possible depending on a dog’s environment and lifestyle. These chemicals could increase the risk of cancer development in dogs, including lymphoma.

Researchers also hypothesize that electromagnetic fields, especially when they run above ground rather than below ground, may be a factor that leads to canine lymphoma. Second-hand smoke has been linked to lymphoma in cats, but less evidence of a correlation has been found in dogs. In general, human-caused toxicity in the environment is dangerous to dogs in the same ways it is dangerous to humans.

While researchers continue to look for answers regarding the causes of canine lymphoma, they are developing a multitude of treatments. If your dog has recently been diagnosed with lymphoma, meet with your veterinarian or veterinarian oncologist as soon as possible to discuss your next steps.

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