When To Put A Dog Down With Lymphoma? Things You Need To Know

time to put a dog down with lymphoma

Are you the owner of a dog suffering from lymphoma?

Are you in extreme grief after hearing that your ultimate pet friend is a guest for only a few weeks?

Did your vet want to put your dog down and you are in a state of complete denial?

Don’t get disappointed!

After reading this article, you would be able to make a difficult but right decision at the right time.

When to put a dog down with lymphoma? If your dog is suffering from the last stages of lymphoma with a lot of painful symptoms, it’s a better option to put him down with the consultation of your veterinarian. Your vet will give him an injection of sodium pentobarbital which will make him die more comfortably instead of dying an extremely painful death.

Among all the canine cancers, Lymphoma is one of the most common cancers affecting dogs. Nearly six million dogs are diagnosed with lymphoma each year in the United States. This disease provides only limited options to increase the lifespan partially. Depending upon the financial resources of owners, mostly chemo is an expensive procedure.

When To Put A Dog Down With Lymphoma?

For those who can afford treatment, still, euthanizing is the only option at the end, and by far, the more proper decision in the pet’s best interest.

Related: What Is Degenerative Myelopathy In Dogs?

Types Of Lymphoma In Dogs

Before we get started, it is necessary to know what lymphoma is. As the name suggests, lymphoma is a group of cancers that commonly occurs in dogs(canine lymphoma), with the abnormal growth of lymphocytes(the white blood cells of the lymphatic system that protects the body from infection).

Lymphoma virtually hits the organs that are part of the immune system like the spleen, lymph nodes, and bone marrow. It is a systemic disease and its treatment is also based on systemic procedures.

Now we are discussing the four most common and recurring types of lymphoma:

1.  Multicentric lymphoma

It is the most common type of canine lymphoma, with symptomatic issues. approximately 80% of the lymphoma in dogs are multicentric. It affects the lymph nodes, spleen, and bone marrow anywhere in the body. The main symptoms are swollen lymph nodes in the area of the neck.

2.  Extranidal Iymphoma

Although, it is a rare type of lymphoma, still life-threatening.  In this type, cancer affects specific organs like skin, eyes, kidneys, lungs, or central nervous system. Just like in cutaneous lymphoma, lymphocytes grow abnormally and form lesions within the skin. Just like in epitheliotropic lymphoma, cancer is localized to the oral cavity involving lip margins, forming scars, ulceration, redness on the roof of the mouth. This image shows cutaneous epitheliotropic lymphoma in dogs.

3.  Alimentary or gastrointestinal lymphoma

This is, by far, the second-most common type of canine lymphoma. It affects the gastrointestinal tract(stomach and intestines) with the symptoms of vomiting, anorexia, dark and watery diarrhea with a foul smell, and weight loss.

4.  Mediastinal lymphoma

This type of lymphoma mainly occurs in the respiratory tract causing breathing problems. A large fluid-filled cavity forms within the chest hence making the breathing difficult for dogs. The symptoms may include swollen lymph nodes within the face area and the dog urinates more frequently with coughing and shortness of breath. The following image shows the x-ray of the mediastinal lymphoma forming a fluid-filled cavity in the chest.

What are the 5 Stages of Lymphoma in Dogs?

Though it’s rare to diagnose this disease at an early stage.It takes time to progress the disease from stage 1 to stage 5.

Let’s read out the description of lymphoma stages :

Stage 1

It is the starting point of the disease when only some symptoms are seen like the enlargement of a single lymph node.

Stage 2

Stage 2 of canine lymphoma involves the enlargement of the generalized lymph node.

Stage 3

In stage 3, different body organs start to get affected, like the liver and spleen.

Stage 4

In this stage, the lymphoma starts affecting bone marrow and enters the bloodstream.

Stage 5

This stage is further divided into 2 substages “a” and “b”. In the substage “a”, usually no clinical signs are seen, while in the substage “b”, the disease is at its peak showing all the symptoms of illness(like vomiting, diarrhea, fever, lethargy, weight loss, dehydration, lost appetite).

What are the possible treatments of a dog with lymphoma?

Lymphoma can be treated if diagnosed at the earliest stage.However,it is rare to treat this completely.If untreated,it’s fatal and your animal will die with pain.

The possible treatments of canine lymphoma are:

1. Chemotherapy

Sources: imprimedicine.com

Chemotherapy involves a group of medicines that kill cancerous cells. In the multicentric lymphoma treatment protocols, the most effective one, with the highest remission rates is 25 weeks protocol called UW-25. The specific drugs(vincristine, Cytoxan, and adriamycin) will be administered by your vet oncologist, depending upon the dog’s condition. These drugs are alternated in order to avoid the development of resistance in tumor cells.

 However, chemotherapy alone is not curative, it only induces remission(the regression of cancer by killing most of the tumor cells). Eventually, the dogs treated by UW-25 mostly complete the remission period. However, nearly 20% of the dogs experience partial remission of their lymphoma.

2.    Bone Marrow transplantation

Along with chemo, bone marrow transplantation is also done in some types of cancers like Hodgkin Lymphoma. The stem cells of the dog are used to stimulate bone marrow function and the immune system recovery. Sometimes surgery is also needed in localized cancer, following the use of radiations to kill the cancer cells.

The success rate of cure using a bone marrow transplant, in the dogs suffering B cell lymphoma, is approximately 35%.as compared to the dogs treated by chemo alone.

Along with other treatment plans, some natural immunity boosters may also be used on the recommendation of your vet, to maintain the natural wellness in the lymphatic system. Some multivitamin treat is also a good option

What Is The Life Expectancy Of A Dog With Lymphoma?

The life expectancy of a dog with lymphoma mainly depends on the overall condition and stage of the disease. During the early diagnosis, the dog may feel well with one or two symptoms. As the illness progresses, life expectancy may be only 1 to 2 months without treatment.

However, in the case of early diagnosis and proper treatment protocols, 80 to 90 % of the dogs attain complete remission of 12 to 14 months. Eventually, in the end, death is confirmed.

How To know That It’s Time To Euthanize The Dog?

When you have done every possible treatment, but your dog is not responding to all of them. Instead, he or she is becoming more and more ill with every passing day. It’s time for you to take some heart wrenching but the right decision. Your vet may help you to determine whether it’s time to put your pet down or not.

Here are some points that can make you guilt-free in order to cope with this difficult situation.

  • If your pet is not enjoying a good quality of life. If he is not taking interest in his favorite activities like playing with toys or other pets, swimming, go for a walk.
  • If your pet has severe abdominal disturbance that he or she is not able to eat or drink
  • Sometimes your pet cannot tolerate the side effects of chemotherapy and becomes even more ill.
  • If your pet is suffering from intense cough and shortness of breath and even cannot sleep.
  • If your pet is in extreme pain that is not controlled by medication.

If your dog is suffering from all of the above conditions, then it’s the proper time to say goodbye with grace and dignity. Here’s a video below that may help you to be mentally prepared for the events that can happen at the vet clinic during euthanasia.

Things To Do Before Euthanizing The Dog

Once you have decided to euthanize your dog, make sure to do the following steps before the due vet appointment. This will surely help you to overcome the grief.

Lets know more:

  • Firstly, pre-prepare all of your family members and tell them what is going to happen, so that it may not be a shock to them.
  • If you have kids, buy them such a book so that they may not get overwhelmed by the grief of losing a pet.
  • Make sure to spend some of the memorable last moments with your pet, so that you may help yourself to cope with the regret.
  • Now, the time to take the last decision is whether you want to stay with your dog until his last breath or you don’t have the dare to do so.

Procedure Of Euthanasia

Now if you have decided to stay with your pet during the euthanasia procedure, You must know what your vet is going to do.

Here is the stepwise procedure detail to put a dog down at the vet clinic:

  • If your pet is of small size, he will be placed on the vet table for the procedure. However, for large dogs, it can also be performed on the flour. But before this, make sure to have a comfortable blanket or bed for your pet to lie on.
  • Your veterinary technician will show you the right place to stand where your pet can easily see and hear you during the procedure. Make sure to provide enough space to the vet so that he may easily hold the pet if needed.
  • Sometimes the vet will place an IV catheter in the front leg before giving the injection. This step will reduce the risk of vein rupture, which can result in the leakage of the drug within the leg and the medicine may not work quickly.
  • If your dog is uncomfortable and not easily handled for the iv injection, the vet will give a sedative or aesthetic medicine in the rear leg muscle. It will take about 5 to 10 minutes and your dog will become unconscious.
  • Once the catheter is placed, your veterinarian will give an overdose of sodium pentobarbital. It quickly makes your dog unconscious and the heartbeat stops gently and your friend will reach his ultimate destination within no time.
  • After the death of your dog, you can still see his intermittent breathing and muscle twitching. Your pet will also release his bowels and empty his bladder. Don’t worry, it’s normal.
  • Finally, your vet will confirm the death of your pet using a stethoscope.
  • Make sure to spend some final moments alone with your pet.

What To Do After Euthanizing Your Dog

Now your pet is no more, your vet will ask you about burial and cremation options.

In the cremation process, your pet ash will be returned to you. However, if you like the burial option, it’s up to you whether you would like to bury your dog in the pet cemetery, check with the International Association of the Pet Cemeteries.

 But if you want your dog grave in your yard, make sure to check local ordinance in this regard. You might be in a sense of deep sadness, So it may be better for you to put the sorrow out instead of keeping it in your heart. Arrange a fresh bookey of cemetery flowers, and say some final words with a pray that you and your dog might gather in the Heavens again.

However, if you believe in miracles, and you want to know more about the dogs who survive cancer, this book is a must-read for you.

Related Articles: How to soften dog eye boogers?

Final words

Dear dog lovers, if your pet is suffering from Lymphoma, you are not alone. There are many other people who pass through this tough situation daily or even every year. Coping with the pain of losing your friend is not more than the condition that your pet is suffering from. Death is a reality, in fact, we all have to go through this one day.

Here we understand more perfectly, that life is not a bed of roses. It’s time for a better decision for your pet to be down. Surely, soon he will be in the gardens of Heaven with more dignity and comfort. So Don’t wait to make the right decision.

Don’t forget to share this article with other dog owners suffering from this situation.

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