My Dog has Lymphoma: What Do I Do Now?

Woman with DogMy dog has lymphoma. It’s a sentence you never want to hear yourself speaking. Unfortunately, lymphoma is one of the most common cancers in dogs. Many owners will be faced with learning how to deal with that diagnosis and the highly-personal decision on how best to move forward. Fortunately, there are a number of actions you can take to address the issue, including treating lymphoma with TANOVEA®-CA1 (rabacfosadine for injection).

Caring for a dog with lymphoma starts with learning about the disease. Canine lymphoma generally develops in the dog’s lymph nodes. From there it moves to other organs such as the spleen and liver. In some dogs, the disease moves rapidly and attacks other areas of the body, making treatment more challenging. In others, it progresses slowly and can be dealt with more effectively.

Your veterinarian will work with a lab to determine the type of lymphoma present. From there, they will development a treatment plan specific to his needs. It typically includes drug treatment, but may also include surgery or radiation. Positive results ranging from removing the cancer to putting it into remission can be achieved, but every case is unique.

Your Role in Caring for Your Dog

If you find yourself having to come to terms with the fact that “my dog has lymphoma,” you shouldn’t let that news paralyze you. There are many things you can do to care for your dog as she receives treatment, including:

  • Stay in regular contact with your veterinarian. Talking with your veterinarian regularly helps ensure that the two of you are on the same page about the steps you should be taking. And, while animal care is your veterinarian’s primary concern, it’s certainly good for your state of mind to regularly hear from an expert who is committed to achieving the best possible outcome.  It also helps your veterinarian to hear how your dog is doing at home, anticipating any signs that might help inform whether the cancer treatment is working or if any adjustments need to be made.
  • Feed your dog when he will eat. Both cancer and even some cancer treatments can impact a dog’s appetite, so it is important to provide healthy, well balanced meals and snacks. When your dog is willing and able to eat, give him a generous portion of food to help ensure he gets proper nourishment.
  • Assist her with getting around. Particularly in older dogs, cancer and some treatments can sap a dog’s strength. This can make normal activities like climbing stairs, getting into and out of the car, and even standing and walking more challenging. Tune in to her needs and lend a hand when necessary.
  • Provide exercise and play based on your vet’s recommendation. Your dog can’t clearly convey any pain or discomfort he may feel. So, talk with your veterinarian about what would be normal for a dog at a given stage of disease progression and/or treatment, and allow only the recommended amount of activity. You certainly don’t want your dog trying to please you by sticking with old routines if he is not up for it, but maintaining a measured degree of play and exercise can be good for both of you.
  • Allow plenty of time for petting and grooming. Even if your dog can’t be as active as normal while receiving cancer treatment, she will still want your company and your attention. Petting or gentle grooming can be a great way to show you’re there for her.
  • Do your best to be cheerful. It’s very hard to put a smile on your face when your best friend faces a medical crisis. But, he can sense your mood, so the more you can do to stay positive, the better.

TANOVEA-CA1 (rabacfosadine for injection): A novel advancement for the treatment of lymphoma in dogs

Thanks to TANOVEA-CA1 (rabacfosadine for injection), the statement “My dog has lymphoma” doesn’t have to be as hopeless as it once was. Learn more about treatment for dogs with lymphoma at our website and find out whether TANOVEA-CA1 might be an option worth considering: Did you know that you can also find a canine lymphoma veterinary specialist in your area on our website?  A veterinary oncologist may be able help you find the best treatment plan for you and your pet.


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  1. Do I go for Chemo or Not?? He has progressed to the skin, ears and Penis in the last three months. It was only diagnosed yesterday.

    • Thank you so much for your detailed comments. They have helped me a great deal in making hard decisions about my sweet pup with a rare lymphoma.

      • Hello Toby –

        Thank you for your comment on the VetDC website. I am so glad we could be of help, but I am very sorry to hear that you and your beloved friend are going through this. If there are any questions you have, please feel free to reach out – we’ll do our best to help. I wish you and your dog the best, and hope you have many more days together.

    • Hi Lyn,

      I’m very sorry to hear that your dog has been diagnosed with lymphoma, that’s surely been tough on both you and your pup. To determine if your dog should receive chemo or other treatments, you will have to have another conversation with your Vet. Your vet knows your dog better than we do and is equipped to propose whatever treatment plans he thinks will be most effective for your dog.

  2. Our pup was on Tanovea CA-1 as a their protocol. We never expected it to perform miracles, nor did we we expect it would “cure” her, as we were well aware that there is no cure for Lymphoma. What we did not expect was the side effects, which made us doubt our efforts to help our girl fight this disease, as the previous CHOP and Lomustine protocols yielded little to no issues for our girl. Tanovea yielded extreme loss of appetite in a dog that had always loved food, baldness on top of her head and around the ears, neck and chest, mild rash on the bald spot on top of her head before her skin turned black, and lesions that smelled metallic like Lymph fluid and ongoing lethargy( versus one or two days that we’d experienced with prior treatment options).Again, we did not expect miracles or even for the treatment to cure her but we did not expect our final weeks with her to be tainted by a quality of life we questioned having inflicted upon her with choosing to try a third protocol. In “trying” to research other pet parents experience, we came up just shy of empty handed, as there were only really 2 testimonials we could find and they were on YouTube. In our opinion, it seems either this treatment is too new or too rarely used (since it is not a gold standard for first treatments, I wonder if it is just too expensive for some to consider a second or third protocol when pressed to make such difficult choices for one’s fur baby) to yield enough testimonials from pet parents who’s beloved pets have undergone or even completed this treatment. Even the write up of the study on the Tanovea website seems like a bevy of the test subjects may have experienced several, all or more of the miserable side effects like our girl, but not being a vet or specialist, maybe that was simply our personal interpretation. I wished we had been aware of even these few experiences before having to make our decision, so we could truly have weighed the pros and cons of Tanovea CA-1 for our girl. These decisions are hard enough to make without having to say Yeah or Nay to a treatment that “seems” to have similar side effects to the other treatments and has little to no testimonials to base your judgement on.

    • Ive been an oncology nurse for 20 yrs. I know what chemo does to people , people and dogs are simular in treatment. My husky has just been diagnosed with lymphoma and he’s 12 yrs old. I am now a hospice nurse and I have chose quality over quantity and stand by that…. treatment is horrible, I have friends that are vets. Unless the dog is young there’s no cure, only remission and 5-10k out of your pocket.

      • Hello Laura –

        Thank you for your insights about cancer treatment. I’m sure you have seen a great many things during your time working as an oncology nurse. As is the case with humans, chemotherapy may be the right choice for some dogs but not for others. Only the patient/caregiver and doctor/veterinarian can determine what the appropriate course is for each individual.

    • Hello Rebekah –
      I’m very sorry to hear that TANOVEA-CA1 was not a good option for your dog. The majority of patients treated with it experience minor adverse effects not unlike those experienced with other chemotherapy protocols. The dermatological adverse events are fairly unique to TANOVEA-CA1, but like the gastrointestinal effects, are most often remediated with supportive care. Unfortunately, as with most drugs available for use in both animal and human populations, there is a small population of patients that will have more significant issues. Additionally, some patients experience progression of the cancer despite treatment, which can manifest as anorexia, weight loss, and lethargy. There is unfortunately no way to know which patients may do poorly because there are not specific populations that have more significant GI effects, or more significant dermatological effects, etc.
      TANOVEA-CA1 has met all the FDA requirements for safety. To date, over 600 client-owned dogs with lymphoma have been treated with TANOVEA-CA1. It is a fairly new product, but it is being used widely across the country in both newly-diagnosed and relapsed patients. Our clinical studies continue and we also gather safety data on patients like your dog who are treated apart from the studies. I would like to encourage you to call our medical reporting department, Safety Call, at 844-312-8129 to report the adverse events your dog experienced so that we can provide the FDA with this very important information. Understanding what patients experience will help us to provide future pet parents with more information to use when making decisions about treatment for their pets.