At the weekend, my beloved Border Collie started swelling around the neck and head, but was still eating/drinking normally/playful so on Monday first thing I took him to the vets. He had some blood tests done and was given some anti-biotics which took away most of the head swelling (but not the glands in his neck) by the time he saw the vet again yesterday.
Vet told me yesterday that he was certain he has Lymphoma because of how swollen his glands are and that a biopsy next week should confirm it.
As you can imagine, I'm devastated, but this morning my dog has had some more anti-biotics and it seems that the swelling in his neck has reduced by approximately a third of what it was yesterday.
What I'm asking really is whether I should hold out hope that it's not cancer if the swelling does come down further (obviously I'll still have the biopsy done), I'm all over the place emotionally and had resigned myself to the fact that I might lose him, but obviously with a dramatic reduction in the neck swelling today, am I being foolish hoping it could just be an infection?
With all due respect to vets; they're not infallible and sometimes what they first suspect is not what is the actual problem.
One of my girls has recently been very, very poorly and the vet's first suggestion wasn't what was wrong. Just the most obvious cause.
I don't want to get your hopes up, because the vet might be right but I have felt like you not too long ago and the girl in question is now slowly getting better and is snoozing on the sofa beside me. It took a lot of work with 2 different vets practices to sort it out though.
Don't be afraid to seek a second opinion or even a referral either. If you're not sure, or you just need to be absolutely certain go to someone else.
Thanks for responding daisy, I am going to go with the biopsy anyway, I just hate the not knowing for definite and perhaps I've got a bit of denial. I do appreciate your answer though and am so glad things are working out for your girl
Does he have swollen lymph nodes elsewhere too, did they say? With lymphoma, you would usually expect the nodes in the back legs (popliteals) and on the shoulders (prescapulars) to be enlarged as well; and lymphoma doesn't usually cause the head to swell, just the glands. If the swelling is going down in response to antibiotics, it sounds more likely to be infection. I have often seen dogs with nodes so large that I was concerned about something sinister, but if it is only the nodes in the neck and not those elsewhere, I would say that most cases do end up being caused by infection. If all the nodes are enlarged, then lymphoma is more likely. These days we usually just do a needle biopsy to confirm - just stick a needle into the node to suck out some cells, which takes only a few seconds. I hope things work out for you.
Thanks alice15, yes they're all slightly swollen, but not as much as the ones in the neck - they are huge. The vet told me that they prefer to take the whole gland out (of the back leg) as it's better for the pathologist? Is that not the case now?
We generally start with a needle biopsy and go on to removing a node if the needle biopsy isn't conclusive; a whole node is obviously more informative for the pathologist, but we get a diagnosis from a needle biopsy about 95% of the time - the big advantage is that it takes about 30 seconds to do during an ordinary consultation, and doesn't need an anaesthetic or surgery. There may be some reason why a surgical biopsy is preferred in your dog's case, though. Anyway, I hope you get some answers soon.
I've decided to take him to be pts next week, my folks are away and as we lived with them for a while they'd be gutted if they didnt get to say goodbye.
I'm also a bit sad as he has had a biopsy and is recovering I cant take him for a big run about, which I know he's missing, but I've got a massive steak in the freezer which I'm going to defrost and cook for him as a treat tomorrow (as he seems to be going off his regular food).
It's such a shame and a waste, as he's only 5 but I just couldn't put him through the treatment.