Helpful Information on Canine Lymphoma (Cancer in Dogs)

Canine lymphoma is one of the most common forms of cancer in dogs, so it’s helpful for pet owners to understand the risk factors and symptoms, as well as how it is diagnosed and treated. However, lymphoma is a complex disease with many different forms and is often talked or written about with detailed medical terminology, which can make it hard for owners to follow the conversation – particularly when they are dealing with the emotional stress of what to do for their beloved pet with lymphoma.

If you’re interested in learning more about lymphoma cancer in dogs, there are some terms you’ll want to know. For example, a “malignant” tumor is one that’s capable of spreading to other areas and organs of the body, as opposed to a “benign” tumor, which does not spread. A “lymphocyte” is a type of white blood cell that fights infection, but that can be “mutated” or changed in a way that makes it cancerous. Lymphocytes are part of the “lymphatic system” – a network of tissues and organs that help rid the body of toxins, waste, and other unwanted materials. Lymphoma is considered a “systemic” disease – as lymphocytes travel readily throughout the lymphatic system in their infection-fighting role – meaning that a cancerous version of the cell can affect many areas of the body.

The cause of canine lymphoma is “multifactorial,” which means that many elements (genetic and environmental) can trigger the disease. As a result, there are many different “subtypes” or forms of lymphoma, and each subtype is thought to behave differently. The most common forms of canine lymphoma are similar to those described as “non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas” in humans—cancers that originate in the lymphatic system. Thus, canine lymphoma often can be treated in a similar manner as humans with “chemotherapy agents” (i.e. drugs that kill cancer cells).

Most lymphomas fall into one of four categories:

  1. “multicentric” (present in lymph tissue/nodes in multiple places)
  2. “alimentary” (present in the digestive system)
  3. “mediastinal” (present in the chest)
  4. “extranodal” (present outside of the lymph nodes)

Terms like “cytology,” “histology” and “immunophenotype” have to do with identifying and categorizing the cancer cells involved and determining the form of lymphoma, while “staging” refers to determining if – and how far – the cancer has spread, while a “prognosis” is an assessment of the outcome of the disease.

diagram of peripheral lymph nodes

Recommended Reading on Canine Lymphoma

With these terms in mind, we recommend checking out this enlightening article in the Whole Dog Journal: Canine Lymphoma: Risk Factors, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment. It goes into great detail on the disease and can help you be better informed if your dog has developed the disease. We strongly encourage you to speak with your local veterinarian or veterinary oncology specialist to better understand any of the topics in this article or clarify any questions you may have. Lymphoma is one of the few cancers in dogs that can have long remission times, so it is important for you to be as informed as possible when dealing with this devastating, but often treatable form of cancer in dogs.

  1. My toy poodle was diagnosed about a month ago
    She has a mass in her chest and a few swollen lymph nodes jn her stomach my vet is giving me prednisone
    I have not been to an oncologist $ is an issue for me
    Is there financial aid for me being. Sr citizen and she is my emotional support dog?
    I would do anything for her 😥

  2. my doberman is currently undergoing Tanovea teartments after already undergoing normal chemo . We have been doing every 3 weeks the first 3 treatments. We are suppose to all go away for a week, what is the danger if for the 4th treatment is was done on the 4th week instead of the 3rd?

  3. What are the risks involved when Tanovea is administered to West Highland Terriers? My dog is a Westie and I noticed there were warnings not to administer Tanovea to this breed.

    • Please check your email for a reply to your post.

  4. What is the percentage of dogs that get pulmonary fibrosis from Tanovea.? Do the odds for this increase as more doses are given? What kind of skin irritations are likely to occur and are they reversible? How would you compare the toxicity of this drug to the ones used for the CHOP protocol ? Thank you

    • Please check your email for our response to your inquiry.

  5. Auggie was started on Tanovea yesterday. He has been on ther chemo drugs that worked in the beginning and then were ineffective. Prayers this will help. He has nasal lymphoma.

    • Hello Sherry –
      I’m so sorry to hear about Auggie’s situation – lymphoma is a frightening diagnosis to face with a beloved family member. I hope that he does well on TANOVEA-CA1, and that his cancer responds. I’m sorry that other protocols have had only short-lived success – unfortunately, some dogs have more-resistant forms of lymphoma. I hope that you have greater success with TANOVEA-CA1. Thank you for sharing Auggie’s story with us. 

  6. My Dachshund, Tilly, just relapsed after completing the CHOP protocol for Lymphoma. Her Veterinarian planned to use Tanovea when this occurred but now that it has Tanovea is not available. My vet wants to start the CHOP protocol all over again with her but she is from a puppy mill and gets very stressed going to the vet’s office once a week. Can Tanovea be released for patients that have relapsed after going through the CHOP protocol?

    • VetDC has responded to your inquiry by email; please let us know if you have additional questions.

  7. Abby, when will Tanovea be available for new patients. My Dobie was just diagnosed Lymphoma.

    • Hi, Robin-

      We are very sorry to hear about your Dobie’s diagnosis. We are unable to give an exact date, I can tell you that the process to manufacture TANOVEA-CA1 is complex and subject to the highest regulatory and quality standards associated with an FDA conditionally approved drug. The timeframe to remedy the production issues and release vials to our customers is dependent on multiple factors, so at this point, we are unable to provide a firm date. However, we will be posting any new updates on this page of the website:

      We are truly sorry to hear about what you are going through and wish you and Dobie the best.

  8. My sweet love 12 yo black lab was diagnosed with lymphoma last night. Is Tanovea available? If so, will our new oncologist know it? If not available, why not?

    • Hi, Kathy-
      We are so sorry to hear about your dog’s diagnosis and wish them the best. We encourage you to speak with your veterinarian regarding the best course of treatment for your dog. You can find out more information about our current supply shortage on the website here:

      Thank you.

  9. My dog has T cell lymphoma and I am looking for a clinical trial

  10. When will Tanovea become available for new patients? My dog has Lymphoma.

    • Please check your email as I just responded to you directly.

  11. My dog had very large lymph nodes which have since gone down. He is on prednisone and pain medication. He pants very loud at times and licks himself constantly. I do not know what to do – whether I should put him down now if he is in a lot of pain or I can wait for a while.

    • Hi, Patsy-

      We would recommend speaking with your veterinarian as soon as possible to see the best possible options for your pet. We wish you the best at this difficult time.