Understanding Canine Lymphoma

Lymphoma is one of the most common cancers seen in dogs. Although there are breeds that appear to be at increased risk for this disease, lymphoma can affect any dog of any breed at any age. It accounts for 10-20% of all cancers in dogs. Lymphoma is a malignant cancer that involves the lymphoid system. In a healthy animal, the lymphoid system is an important part of the body’s immune system defense against infectious agents such as viruses and bacteria. To learn more about canine lymphoma, check out this link.

Do you have a pet who is chronically ill? Even if the answer is no, have you ever let the thought of losing your pet cross your mind? Most pet owners assume their furry children will have a typical lifespan correlating with its particular breed and size. However, we don’t plan on something tragic occurring, such as being hit by a car, running away or being diagnosed with incurable diseases such as canine lymphoma or other types of cancer.

Unfortunately, in my journey as a pet photographer, I have learned many people do not realize the importance of capturing their furry child (professionally) on camera until it’s too late. Or they wait until their pet is too sick or increasingly aged and wouldn’t want them documented in such a weak physical condition.

Below information from www.caninecancer.com

What is Cancer?
Dog cancer, like human cancer, is the uncontrolled growth of cells on or within the body. Although there are many types of cancer, they all start because of out-of-control growth of abnormal cells. Normal body cells grow, divide, and die in an orderly fashion. During the early years of a dog’s life, normal cells divide more rapidly until the dog becomes an adult. After that, cells in most parts of the body divide only to replace worn-out or dying cells and to repair injuries. Because cancer cells continue to grow and divide, they are different from normal cells. Instead of dying, they outlive normal cells and continue to form new abnormal cells.

Cancerous tumors can spread to other parts of the body where they begin to grow and replace normal tissue. This process is called metastasis. For example, breast cancer that spreads to the liver is still called breast cancer, not liver cancer. Regardless of where a cancer may spread, however, it is always named for the place it began.Not all tumors are cancerous. Benign (noncancerous) tumors do not spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body and, with very rare exceptions, are not life threatening.Different types of cancer can behave very differently. For example, bone cancer and breast cancer are very different diseases. They grow at different rates and respond to different treatments. That is why dogs with cancer need treatment that is aimed at their particular kind of cancer. Cancer rates increase in dogs with age. It is the leading cause of death in dogs over 10 years.

Diagnosis
If cancer is suspected in your dog, a veterinarian may order x-rays, blood tests, ultrasounds. A biopsy (the removal of a piece of tissue) is frequently performed for confirmation that cancer exists and to determine the level of severity from benign to aggressively malignant (called grading).

Prevention
We do not know how dogs get cancer most of the time. There are many types of cancer and many possible causes of cancer (chemicals in our environment, sun exposure, assorted viruses and infections). There are important genetic factors as well. Feeding your dog a healthy diet and keeping them away from known carcinogens will help. Spaying or neutering your dog will also reduce their risk for developing certain cancers.

Treatment
Each diagnosis of cancer requires individual care and treatment planning. Conventional treatment may include a combination of treatment therapies such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, cryosurgery (freezing), hyperthermia (heating) or immunotherapy.Complementary and alternative veterinary medicine (CAVM) therapies include acupuncture, behavior modification, homeopathy, herbal medicine, mega-nutrient augmentation therapy, nutritional therapy and chiropractic therapy. Once diagnosed, your veterinarian will discuss the best treatment option(s) for your dog. In some instances, your veterinarian may refer you to a board-certified oncologist (cancer specialist) depending upon the recommended course of treatment. It never hurts to get a second opinion and to research clinical trials for which you dog may be eligible.

Prognosis
Treatment success depends upon the type and extent of the cancer, as well as the aggressiveness of therapy. Some cancers can be cured and almost all patients can be helped to some degree.Another critical point is to understand exactly what is meant when data on efficacy of treatment is presented. Useful terms include:Median – this is used in the context of survival, a median survival of three months means that 50% of the animals are alive at three months, but 50% have died. It does not give you any information of the range of survival of individuals from within the group. For example, individual animals may have survived for only a day to several years. A median survival is very useful to allow comparison between different types of treatment.Survival means just that: how long an animal stayed alive, usually from time of diagnosis, but it could also mean from time of treatment, or from time the owner first noticed signs of a problem. It does not give you any information on what the animal’s quality of life was during that time.Progression free survival is the time the animal survived without progression of the clinical signs. This gives you a better idea of the quality of life.

From Sugar Ray’s Daddy, TJ Johnson:
Losing your pet is not easy, especially when you are out of the country and have been away from your pet for 4 months. When I got word that Sugar Ray had lymphoma, I immediately prepared myself for the toughest decision you have to make about your pet. Do you spend a lot of money and keep them alive, or do you listen to your pet´s heart and soul and let them go? I chose to let him go as his cancer was in a severe stage & he didn’t deserve to suffer. My family, caring for Sugar Ray while I was away, was devastated, as he was my furry kid in the USA. He had my spirit and was a good protector and companion to my parents and family while I was gone. When I decided to put him down, my sister arranged an emergency meeting with Jennifer and the photos she took made me realize I was doing the right thing. She captured his spirit that night before we put him to sleep and I cannot thank her enough for the effort she put forth. If you love your pets as much as I loved Sugar Ray, you need to use her services, because as I learned, you never know what might take place. I am in debt to her for helping me cope with the loss of my best friend and loyal companion, Sugar Ray – and am very grateful for her generosity, her time, & going above and beyond for me and my dog. Sugar Ray touched so many lives throughout our many travels across America in our almost 9 years together. He made everyone smile & brought joy to so many, & thanks to Jennifer, she allowed his spirit to touch many more lives even after he passed because of her talent for pet photography – capturing his true spirit & soul in his final hours. GRACIAS Jennifer!!!!!

Stacy Johnson-Sweany, Shane & Emma Sweany & Richard & Martha Johnson
I found Jennifer thanks to social networking, and just in time. My brother’s dog Sugar Ray had just been diagnosed with lymphoma and it was a very late, severe stage. My brother works and lives in Mexico and had to leave his best friend & loyal companion of almost 9 years behind in the USA with our parents, until he could come back for him in a few months. After hearing of Sugar Ray’s diagnosis and speaking to the vet, my brother made the painful decision to put him down. It was recommended the sooner the better due to how sick Sugar Ray was. He didn’t deserve to suffer- not Sugar Ray. My brother asked us to put him to sleep on Saturday & he would Skype with us to tell Sugar Ray goodbye on Thursday night. Friday at work, I was on Facebook & immediately thought of Jennifer and sent her an “emergency” email asking if she had about an hour to capture Sugar Ray. I knew it was a long shot, but I received an immediate response. I was amazed at her prompt response & willingness to help me.

Sugar Ray was very sick, but had been on a medication for a few days that seemed to make him feel a little better, so when we got to the winery, he was in rare form and got to run free through the vineyards, and his spirit shined. Jennifer went above and beyond, not only for us, but for Sugar Ray, who was able to run free and be himself as we all knew him on his final day with us. We want to praise Jennifer and her talent & skill as a photographer, and her special way with pets. My brother will now have Sugar Ray’s spirit forever captured. We are so thankful for her generosity, talent, and professionalism we will be forever grateful for. Sugar Ray will never be forgotten and will live on in our hearts forever. If you have a pet, or not, you should make it a point to contact Jennifer. She is truly a blessing to all who meet her. Thank you Jennifer from the bottom of our hearts.

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