Are swollen lymph nodes in dogs a sign of cancer? My dog also has diarrhea with mucus.
Original Question: I have a 10.5 year old German Shepherd. Approximately 2 months ago he started having bouts of diarrhea. It would last for several days and then his stool would form solid again. He would be fine for 5 days to a week and then the same thing occurred. This cycle has continued until now. His lymph nodes in his neck are quite swollen and have not reduced in size. He seems as energetic as he should be for an older dog and doesn't seem to be in any discomfort. The vet believes he has cancer but no tests or stool samples have been done. His diarrhea will have a this mucus in it as well. Do you have any suggestions? - Cliff
There could be something quite serious going on here but it looks like not a lot of tests have been done. You’ve got to remember that veterinarians have to do tests to figure out exactly what’s going on with your dog and just giving them a really detailed history is sometimes not enough, although it is helpful. The thing that really concerns me about this is that your German Shepherd has enlarged lymph nodes and is 10 ½ years old as this breed can get something called lymphoma which is a type of cancer where you will commonly see swollen lymph nodes in dogs and it can present itself in other ways.
Typically to diagnose this you do something called a fine needle aspirate cytology where you poke the lymph node with a needle and you spit that out on a slide and send it to the lab. Often they’re able to diagnose lymphoma simply from that process and there are other ways you can look for it such as doing X-ray’s and ultrasounds however these things can get very expensive. The one nice thing about lymphoma is it’s very treatable and they tend to have a good response to it but you’re going to want to talk to your veterinarian about that.
The diarrhea could be related to the lymphoma and it could be that the lymphoma has made it to that digestive tract and so we’re going to want to treat that diarrhea as a symptom of the lymphoma or in and of itself. Other tests for the diarrhea could be performed such as fecal testing, parasite testing, looking for a certain bacteria that might be running through the gut but this is something where there’s really no two ways around it other than to start doing some testing. I know we all want to try to avoid the cost but in some cases it’s just so important and keep in mind that if you’re at home and you’re really worried about your dog, I have to say that my clients are much more settled when they do go ahead and spend the money to figure things out. That way, they can make the right decisions even if it means they’re not going forward with something complicated and expensive, they know what’s happening with their dog so they can make other potentially final decisions if they need to.
I would really recommend that you work with your veterinarian and make sure that they’re providing options and not just giving you a huge estimate. Ask for some simple tests and share with them your feeling about your finances and work with them to make sure that you get the information you need without breaking your bank.
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