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Dear Daisy Dog

Our dog was just diagnosed with lymphosarcoma. She’s our second canine victim of this cancer. Is there something we’re doing wrong? Should we change foods? How can we prevent lymphosarcoma in our future dogs?

Daisy Responds

Lymphosarcoma, sometimes called “lympho” or LSA, is cancer of the lymphatic system. It can occur anywhere in the body.

It is especially devastating because it can strike dogs both old and young. We send you our sympathy.

Lymphosarcoma has not been associated with any particular kind of food. However, studies have linked it to other environmental exposures.

Lawn treatment with the herbicide 2,4-D (2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid) four or more times per year doubles the risk of lymphosarcoma in dogs.

Paints or solvents in the environment increase risk 4.6 times.

Dogs living in industrial areas have an 8.5 times higher likelihood of developing LSA than dogs in non-industrialized areas.

People who live in areas with a high incidence of canine lymphosarcoma are more likely to develop lymphoma than people living elsewhere.

While neither gender of dog develops lymphosarcoma more readily than the other, once they are diagnosed, females, particularly spayed females, survive much longer. The reason is unknown.

Dogs survive longer when they are energetic and appear healthy at the time of diagnosis. Longer survival is also associated with a normal calcium level in the blood, because high calcium may result from a particularly aggressive form of lymphosarcoma.

Dogs with Cushing’s disease and those who had regularly received steroids (for allergies, for instance) have shorter survival times, probably because they have developed resistance to the medications used to treat lymphosarcoma.

In summary, your best course is to live in an environment as chemical- and pollution-free as possible. Dispose of paints and solvents properly, and don’t use herbicides on your property.

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