We recently received heartbreaking news about our Kota, who has been sick for sometime now. He has Lymphoma. Our sweet boy has Lymphoma.
Upon receiving Kota’s results, we did some online research of our own. Here are a few quick facts about this disease:
- Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymph nodes and lymphatic system.
- The most common presentation of lymphoma in dogs is peripheral lymph node enlargement, in an otherwise healthy dog.
- Lymphoma can affect any dog of any breed at any age. It accounts for 10-20% of all cancers in dogs, although most newly diagnosed patients are between 5-7 years of age. Kota is only 6 years old.
- Hypercalcemia occurs in approximately 20% of dogs with lymphoma.
- Lymphoma progresses very rapidly in most dogs so survival time is very short, usually just a few weeks, without treatment. (source) and (source).
It’s been a heartbreaking process, but after some careful consideration, we decided to document Kota’s treatment in hopes that it will help other fur-parents understand some of the signs and symptoms of this disease, so that medical care is sought out immediately.
The first sign of Kota’s illness started surfacing back in late November. We noticed that Kota’s appetite was slowly changing. At first we thought it was his dog food, so we switched the “recipe type” a couple of times, but his appetite slowly continued to decline.
This past December we took both Kimo and Kota for their annual physical, and informed the vet about Kota’s appetite. After weighing Kota, we were shocked that his weight dropped nearly eight pounds. During the physical examination, the vet also noted that Kota’s lymph nodes on on his neck were swollen, so he recommend a blood count. The results came back indicating that Kota had high calcium levels, which can sometimes indicate cancer or a tumorous growth.
X-rays were then ordered to determine if a tumor was the cause of his condition. The results came back inconclusive, so we were then referred to a veterinary hospital where they could better diagnose Kota’s condition. In the meantime, Kota was sent home with antibiotics to fight any infection, and prescription dog food to stimulate his appetite. I should also note that Kota’s brother, Kimo, is absolutely healthy.
The following day we took Kota to the referred hospital. During the diagnostic work-up, a Clinical Care Doctor discovered additional swollen lymph nodes on Kota’s neck and behind his knees. A biopsy of his lymph nodes was performed where we were then sent home with Mirtazapine tablets and medicated dog food to stimulate Kota’s appetite while we waited for his results.
Three days of restless waiting, we finally received the confirmation we were dreading – Kota has Lymphoma, and that he was possibly a Stage III. Kota’s care from that pet hospital went down hill after that phone call. We started getting the run around from the staff. When the Oncologist returned one of our many phone calls, he had no knowledge of Kota’s medical history. It’s been a frustrating, heartbreaking, and disappointing experience with that facility.
My husband and I returned to our vet with Kota and complained about the veterinary hospital that we were referred to, and a new referral to a veterinary hospital in San Diego proved a better choice for us. There we met with friendly and compassionate staff on the telephone and in person, and a wonderful Oncologist, where she examined Kota, and explained the different treatment options and the cost of each procedure. She also mentioned to us that she believes Kota may now be a Stage V.
After much discussion and consideration of the treatments, we opted for the steroid treatment to keep Kota comfortable. Remission time for this treatment is approximately two months.
Upon taking the steroid tablet at the hospital, we noticed a change in Kota almost immediately the following day. His appetite returned, he started playing, running, and even barking again. It’s been wonderful having our Kota back, even if it’s a short time…it’s more time we have with him.
One of the side effects to this steroid is increased thirst, and we have noticed Kota drinking more frequently. More to come in future posts, and please keep our sweet Kota in your thoughts.