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Lymphoma in Dogs

Each canine lymphoma case is unique and different. Holistic remedies (diet changes and immune support supplements) combined with conventional veterinary therapies (chemotherapy, radiation, steroids) can give your dog the best chance to fight canine lymphoma.

What Is Lymphoma In Dogs?

Lymphoma is a common cancer in dogs that affects the blood and lymphatic tissue. It primarily causes lymphocyte growth throughout the lymph system which - when healthy - carry lymph (a clear, watery fluid that contains protein, salts, glucose and other substances) throughout the body.

Since lymphoma in dogs (also referred to as lymphosarcoma) is such a common cancer, a great deal of research and information is known about it. This means that veterinarians and veterinary oncologists will have more knowledge, experience and medications available more rare canine cancers.

What Are The Types Of Lymphoma In Dogs?

The five common types of lymphoma in dogs are:

  • Cutaneous
  • Extranodal
  • Mediastinal
  • Alimentary
  • Multicentric

The names come from the part of the lymphatic system that is affected. In all forms of lymphoma, the most classic sign to watch for is swelling of dog lymph nodes. As lymphocytes become cancerous cells, they travel to other lymph nodes and eventually spread to the spleen and bone marrow.

The most common type of lymphoma in dogs is multicentric lymphoma. This form affects lymph nodes throughout your dog's body. Almost 85% of canine lymphoma cases are multicentric.

The easiest type to identify early on is cutaneous. When a dog has cutaneous lymphoma, it will develop red lumps on the skin where the cancer originated. Symptoms of cutaneous lymphoma include ulcers, nodules, hair loss, itching and scaling. The dog may exhibit oral problems such as nodules or lesions on the lips and gums.

There are two grades of canine lymphoma.

Low-grade or small-cell lymphoma progresses much slower than a large-cell or high-grade lymphoma. It is also important when considering prognosis to differentiate between the two subtypes of canine lymphoma: B-cell and T-cell. B lymphocytes (or B-cells) produce antibodies and tell the immune system to destroy the pathogens. T lymphocytes (or T-cells) fight off viral infections and cancers.

The majority of dogs are diagnosed with B-cell lymphoma. This type tends to respond favorably to conventional veterinary treatments. T-cell lymphoma tends to be more resistant to treatments.

Canine lymphoma can affect any dog, but some breeds have a higher incidence: Boxers, Golden Retrievers, Saint Bernards, Basset hounds, Airedale terriers, Scottish terriers, German shepherds and bulldogs.

When dealing with lymphoma in your dog’s swollen lymph nodes, home remedies and holistic treatment can help reduce the spread of the cancerous cells. If your dog has symptoms of lymphoma, such as swollen lymph nodes, it is very important to see a veterinarian for diagnosis.

diagram of lymph nodes in dogs

Symptoms Of Lymphoma In Dogs

The first symptom a pet owner may notice is that the dog has swollen lymph nodes (appears like a large lump). Many dogs still may feel and act normal at this point.

The lymph nodes and swelling can be felt by touching beneath the dog's jaw (submandibular lymph nodes). It may be very apparent where the neck size becomes bigger. You might notice swelling in your dog's armpit (axillary lymph nodes), groin (inguinal lymph nodes) or legs (popliteal lymph nodes).

Depending upon the location of your dog's swollen lymph nodes, symptoms may vary. Some dogs have no symptoms. In some dogs, the swollen lymph nodes can affect their ability to eat, swallow, walk or defecate. The most common symptoms of canine lymphoma are:

  • Painless swelling of lymph nodes
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss

Dog lymph nodes can get swollen for a variety of reasons, not just from lymphoma. Infections, allergic reactions, asthma and autoimmune disease can also cause a dog's lymph nodes to become swollen. If you notice that your dog has any of these symptoms of lymphoma, then it is important to contact your veterinarian right away.

How Is Dog Lymphoma Diagnosed?

Many dogs with lymphoma do not show clinical signs at the onset of the cancer. Swelling of the lymph nodes may be noticed by the dog owner or by the veterinarian during a routine physical exam. Testing for canine lymphoma may include:

  • Blood work & urinalysis
  • Fine needle aspiration or biopsy

A fine needle aspirate involves using a needle to collect lymph cells from the swollen node. The sample is then examined under a microscope to look for evidence of cancerous cells. If the aspirate fluid does not show cancer, your veterinarian may perform a biopsy of the lymph tissue.

Complete diagnostic testing can help your vet or veterinary oncologist have a clearer picture of how much of the lymphatic system has been affected by the cancer and can help to determine what treatment options may be helpful for your dog.

Treatment Options For Canine Lymphoma

The best course of action will depend on the type, stage, and aggressiveness of the lymphoma.

Even though there isn't a miracle cure for canine lymphoma, the goal of the treatment is for the dog to go into complete remission for as long as period as possible.

Chemotherapy is the most common treatment offered to canine lymphoma patients because the cancer cells are not isolated in one place and are often located throughout the pet's body. Chemotherapy can signficantly improve life expectancy (average 12 -14 months).

*References: Cancer. 2000 Apr 15;88(8):1916-28.Effect of fish oil, arginine, and doxorubicin chemotherapy on remission and survival time for dogs with lymphoma: a double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled study. Ethos Vet: Canine Lymphoma, October 2, 2016

Recommended Diet for Canine Lymphoma

Dogs with lymphoma can benefit from a low-carbohydrate, hypoallergenic diet, rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.

While veterinarians have long touted the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids to reduce inflammation, a research study published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine* found omega-3 supplementation may even be helpful in preventing certain types of lymphoma in dogs.

Further studies show that eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), two types of omega-3 fatty acids, help slow the development of tumors and metastases of certain cancers.** By using a high-quality fish oil and adding a small portion of baked fish or sardines in water can provide a source of omega-3s in your dog's diet.

Diets high in carbohydrates may promote tumor growth and should be controlled. Dry food diets generally are high in carbohydrates so choosing another form of dog food such as raw frozen, canned or homemade can be beneficial. Adding an array of fresh vegetables can provide important enzymes and nutrients to your dog's diet.

Since the majority of your dog's immune system resides in the intestinal tract, maintaining a balanced microbiome is also essential. Probiotics along with fresh foods containing prebiotic fibers can support a healthy immune system.

*Reference: Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine. Associations of environment, health history, T-zone lymphoma, and T-zone-like cells of undetermined significance. 2019 Mar;33(2):764-775. **Reference: Cancer Res. 1992 Apr 1;52(7 Suppl):2040s-2048s. Relationship between dietary fat and experimental mammary tumorigenesis: a review and critique.

Supplements to Help with Canine Lymphoma Diagnosis

Amazing Omegas -The highly therapeutic amount of omega-3 fatty acids reduces inflammation associated with dogs with lymphoma. Omega-3s are critical for immune and nervous system function. Amazing Omegas is a highly purified fish oil made from sardines, anchovies and mackerel, processed with minimal heat to preserve the oil in its natural state. It's packed in glass bottles to prevent any chemicals from plastic leaching into the oil, and it’s naturally processed and highly bioavailable, with all toxins and heavy metals carefully removed. Compare the nutrient panel of this premium pet fish oil to all other brands and see the difference.

OncoPet Cancer Vitamin is a proprietary blend of herbs and medicinal mushrooms that provide powerful immune support. The natural ingredients in OncoPet contain polyphenols, beta-glucans and antioxidants, like D-fraction and L-ergothioneine, that boost the immune system and help regulate your dog's inflammatory response. OncoPet is a comprehensive dog cancer vitamin that also includes herbs to help balance the gut microbiome and reduce nausea and cancer-related fatigue. Combines well with cancer treatments from your veterinarian or veterinary oncologist. Helps pets handle chemotherapy and radiation. Excellent value. One bottle lasts up to 8 months for small dogs.

Resveratrol for Dogs - Resveratrol is an exceptional antioxidant backed by research and can help your dog in so many ways. Resveratrol is a cancer support and preventative (use with dog breeds that have a higher incidence of cancer, such as bichon frises, German shepherds, Labradors, golden retrievers, boxers). It acts on the process of carcinogenesis by affecting all three phases - tumor initiation, promotion and progression - and suppresses the final steps of carcinogenesis. Resveratrol is cardio-protective (excellent for breeds prone to heart issues, such as Cavalier King Charles spaniels, poodles, dachshunds). Very important if your pet is undergoing radiation. Energizing, promotes longevity. Excellent for senior dogs. Resveratrol for Dogs also supports immune function.

Happy Paws Organic Hemp Extract For Dogs - A few drops of this professional veterinary strength oil can help reduce inflammation and support a healthy immune system. Controlling inflammation is a core part of cancer treatment, and that is the main characteristic of this canine lymphoma oil. The ingredients in Happy Paws are being researched for their beneficial effects on cancer. Anecdotal reports include reduced pain, inflammation and discomfort. Happy Paws is the best hemp oil for dog lymphoma. It contains simple ingredients: organic hemp extract and coconut oil. It’s rigorously tested for potency and purity. Each 1oz bottle contains 550mg of full spectrum hemp extract in an unflavored all-natural coconut oil base. 100% organic. Made in the USA.

K9 CurcuMagic - This is a scientifically proven natural anti-inflammatory supplement for dogs with cancer. It contains a patented combination of three curcuminoids and turmeric essential oil that acts as free-radical scavengers. These cancer-fighting nutrients in this unique bioactive turmeric formula help pets prevent and fight cancer. Curcumin inhibits tumor growth and may help to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy. K9 CurcuMagic absorbs best when digested with fat, especially omega-3 fatty acids (Amazing Omegas), which is why our clients use the two pet cancer supplements together. If your pet is undergoing radiation, curcumin can protect the skin.

Immune Harmony - This is a premium-quality, patented blend of plant sterols and antioxidants. This natural remedy for lymphosarcoma in dogs is a unique patented plant sterol supplement that’s tolerated well by even the smallest pets. When it comes to pet vitamins and supplements for lymphoma, Immune Harmony's benefits are unmatched. This pet vitamin has been successfully used in conjunction with chemotherapy and/or steroids since 2005. The sterols contained in Immune Harmony have been shown in studies to have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and immunomodulatory properties. No known toxicity has been found. The antioxidants protect the body from free-radical damage, and an essential fatty acid complex assists in the bioavailability of these health-promoting nutrients. Excellent value: One bottle lasts between two and four months depending upon the weight of your pet.


"Riley, my wonderful golden retriever and best friend, was diagnosed with canine lymphoma at 6 years old. He was given 6 months or less to live. Our oncologist gave me Susan Davis' card and the Ask Ariel website. Susan helped me change his diet and I gave Riley the suggested supplements for dogs with lymphoma. We did all this and amazingly he lived 18 more months! He tolerated the chemotherapy drugs extremely well and for a time even went into remission. The cancer clinic was so amazed by his progress they named him their "wonder dog"!

Thank you Susan for giving me those 18 months. They were filled with Riley feeling good, energetic and playful. We took long walks and runs by the beach and lots of fun play time and of course, lots of love. Riley and I never would have had this time if it were not for Susan's holistic cancer treatment for lymphoma which combined with the chemotherapy drugs, gave Riley good quality time." - Cheryl, California

Some Of The Products Riley Used: Resveratrol For Dogs, Power Probiotic, Soothing Digestive Relief, Amazing Omegas, Renelix.


"Happy New Year! Thank you for keeping our Labrador Stanley well. He just celebrated his 9th Birthday! After his cancer diagnosis in early September, we all wondered if he would be here for Halloween, then Thanksgiving, then Christmas, then his birthday. He has not seen his general vet or specialist since his diagnosis. We attribute his wellness to your products! YOU have BLESSED us immensely! Each time we receive an order from you, somehow Stanley knows "his ladies from California have sent him a package." Our heartfelt gratitude to all of you!" - Jodi, Pennsylvania

Need Help?

If you have questions, please feel free to email us at [email protected]. Our natural dog cancer supplements have been used extensively since 2005 and have been selected based on quality, scientific research and proven results. We understand what you are going through and want to help you as best we can. If you have any questions about Ask Ariel's natural treatments for swollen lymph nodes and canine lymphoma, please don't hesitate to contact us. We will be happy to provide you with additional information about our natural remedies, but please know that due to veterinary regulations, we cannot provide individualized consultative advice without a physical exam.

Immune Harmony Immune Harmony
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OncoPet Cancer Vitamin OncoPet Cancer Vitamin
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natural anti inflammatory for dogs K9 CurcuMagic For Dogs
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Happy Paws Drops Happy Paws Drops
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Resveratrol for Dogs Resveratrol for Dogs
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Canine Lymphoma Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the best diet for dogs with lymphoma?

A hypoallergenic, low carbohydrate diet is helpful for most dogs with lymphoma. Carbohydrates can promote tumor growth and weaken immunity, so dogs fare best when they are limited. Research has shown that adding omega-3 fatty acids, in the form of baked fish or fish oil, can help slow tumor growth and the spread of cancer. Omega-3s also help to reduce inflammation. Adding fresh vegetables to meals is an easy way to add extra nutrients to your pup's cancer diet.

What should I do if my dog's lymph nodes are swollen?

Swollen lymph nodes, or lymphadenopathy, does not always mean that your dog has lymphoma. The lymph nodes are a type of filter for your dog's body. They trap viruses and bacteria, trying to destroy them before they can pass through to other parts of the body. Infections, allergic reactions, asthma, autoimmune disease and lymphoma can all cause a dog's lymph nodes to become swollen. If you notice that your dog has swollen lymph nodes, it is important to contact your veterinarian to have them determine the cause.

What can shrink cancer tumors in dogs?

Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation are the most commonly prescribed veterinary treatments to reduce or remove cancerous tumors in dogs. Steroids, anti-inflammatories and antibiotics may also be used to try to slow tumor growth, depending on the types of tumors and their location. Holistic natural treatments can be used in combination with conventional veterinary care. These diet changes and supplements can help reduce inflammation, boost immune function and help your dog feel better, especially if your pup is undergoing chemo or radiation treatments.

How can I help my dog with lymphoma?

Omega-3 fatty acids, medicinal mushrooms and antioxidants can reduce inflammation, boost immune function and provide additional support to dogs with lymphoma. Using home remedies for canine lymphoma, in conjunction with the conventional oncology treatments prescribed by your veterinarian, can help support your dog's immune system and help keep them as strong as possible.

Originally published Dec 11, 2023
Updated May 2, 2024
Written by: Susan Davis, Pet Health Nutritionist, CCN
All pet treatment protocols and pet treatment supplements have been reviewed and approved by a veterinarian