Lymphoma in dogs is a cancer of lymphoid cells. As these cells circulate throughout the body via the lymphatic system, lymphoma can develop on any part of the body. Tumors can occur in the lymph nodes, gastrointestinal tract, chest, skin, spleen, liver and bone marrow.
The condition can be found in dogs of various breeds and ages. It is however most common in certain breeds such as Airedale Terrier, Basset Hound, Boxer, German Shepherd and Rottweiler. Lymphoma tends to occur in middle aged or older dogs.
Treatment for Lymphoma in Dogs
Chemotherapy is the main treatment for lymphoma in dogs.
Prednisone therapy is the other dog lymphoma treatment. Prednisone is a corticosteroid that can kill tumor cells. However, it is not as effective as chemotherapy for treating lymphoma in dogs. Prednisone is primarily used to manage symptoms of the disease.
When to Use Prednisone as Treatment for Lymphoma in Dogs
The decision to use prednisone for treating lymphoma in dogs depends on a number of factors. The main one is cost as it tends to be less expensive than chemotherapy.
Some pet owners are not in favor of chemotherapy due to its toxicity. They may opt for prednisone therapy as it can help to relieve symptoms and make their dogs more comfortable in the short term.
Side Effects of Prednisone
Like most drugs, there are some side effects to using prednisone for treating lymphoma in dogs. Interestingly, some of these side effects are similar to those experienced by humans who also use the drug.
The side effects of prednisone include:
– Increased thirst and hunger: Dogs will eat more than usual and urinate more frequently due to increased water intake.
– Diabetes: Prednisone can cause insulin resistance. This results in high glucose levels in the blood that can eventually cause diabetes.
– Loss of hair and changes in coat: Hair loss is a frequent side effect of using prednisone on dogs. In some cases, not only does the dog’s coat become thinner, the healthy sheen also disappears. Some dogs will also develop hard to heal skin infections.
– Gastrointestinal problems: These include diarrhea, stomach ulcers and even vomiting.
– Cushing’s disease: This condition can be quite serious. Canine Cushing’s disease results in an overproduction of cortisone. This hormonal imbalance has a number of symptoms, such as an impaired immune system, weight gain or loss and increased thirst.
– Changes in behavior: Prednisone use also results in dogs becoming restless and even aggressive.
Dogs treated with prednisone alone usually live for 2-3 months only. When prednisone is given in combination with other chemotherapy drugs, the expected lifespan is about a year.