Lymphoma Cancer in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs

By: Dr. Roy Kraemer |
DVM, Bulldog Specialist Veterinarian

Lymphoma, in bulldogs and French bulldogs, is also referred to as lymphosarcoma. It is a cancer of the lymphatics and a white blood cell called a lymphocyte that is vital for your bully immune system and can be diagnosed in any body part that has lymphatics and lymphocytes.

Lymphoma, like most types of cancer, is more common in older bulldogs. Cancerous lymphocytes are classified as B-cell or T-cells

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Bulldog Lymphoma Cancer (Pyoderma)  5 X MUST KNOW

  1. Lymphoma is a cancer of a white blood cell “lymphocyte” and the lymphatic system
  2. The most common lymphoma is one of the lymph nodes, others are GI, skin, chest, and bone marrow
  3. With treatment, bulldog lymphoma can go into remission but it is not a curable cancer
  4. Chemotherapy is the most common treatment and can be combined with bully therapeutic supplements
  5. Prevention and care include low stress, genetic selection, and bully therapeutic supplements 

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Lymphoma in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs / COMMON SITES:

  1. LYMPH NODE (multicentric): is the most common site, representing nearly 80-90% of all lymphoma cases
  2. GI (alimentary): gastrointestinal
  3. CHEST (Mediastinum): which is the front part of the chest (thymus)
  4. SKIN (cutaneous): aggressive-looking ulcerative raised lesions
  5. BONE MARROW (Leukemia)

Lymphoma in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs / CAUSE:

The exact cause of lymphoma in dogs, as with many types of cancer, remains largely unknown. Research indicates that it is likely multifactorial, involving a combination of genetic, environmental, and possibly viral factors, among others.

  • Genetic
  • Viral
  • Carcinogen exposure
  • Chronic Stress
  • Obesity & Diet
  • Toxic Substance

Understanding the exact causes of lymphoma in dogs is an area of active research. Identifying specific risk factors could lead to better prevention strategies and targeted treatments

Lymphoma in Bulldogs PRESENTATION

The clinical signs of lymphoma can vary widely and are influenced by factors such as:

  • the location of the cancer
  • the specific type of lymphoma
  • how advanced the disease was at the time of diagnosis

The variability in symptoms reflects the diverse roles of the lymphatic system and lymphocytes throughout the body, as well as the disease’s ability to affect multiple organs and tissues. Here’s a more detailed look at how these factors can influence the presentation of lymphoma

1. LYMPH NODE LYMPHOMA (Multicentric)

Characterized primarily by the enlargement of multiple peripheral lymph nodes. This form of cancer can be relatively straightforward for bully owners to detect due to the visible or palpable swelling.

The most commonly observed enlarged lymph nodes are:

  • Mandibular Lymph Nodes: Located in the neck under the jaw
  • Axillary Lymph Nodes: Found in the armpits, swelling in this area might be less obvious unless it becomes significantly enlarged or the dog shows discomfort when lifting its legs.
  • Inguinal Lymph Nodes: Located in the groin area, enlargement here can sometimes be spotted when a dog lays on its back or side, or during grooming.
  • Popliteal Lymph Nodes: Situated behind the knee cap, these are also among the easier sets of lymph nodes for pet owners to detect through touch when the dog is in a relaxed position.

bulldog lymph node swollen neck

The enlargement of these lymph nodes is typically symmetrical and can progress from being barely noticeable to quite pronounced as the disease advances.

Caution: It’s important to note that while enlarged lymph nodes are a key feature of multicentric lymphoma, they can also be indicative of other conditions, such as infections or other immune responses

The lymphoma enlarged lymph nodes are not painful


Bulldog with lymphoma affecting the gastrointestinal tract may show symptoms related to the digestive system, such as

  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • weight loss
  • loss of appetite


Due to the mass effect on the lungs or trachea, the lymphoma involves the mediastinum, the area in the chest containing the heart, trachea, and lymph nodes, which your bulldog might exhibit

  • difficulty breathing
  • coughing
  • increased breathing effort 


Lymphoma that affects the skin can lead to various skin changes, including

  • redness
  • ulcers
  • raised 
  • itchy
  • painful
  • infected


  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Inappetence
  • Weight loss
  • Increased thirst/urination
  • Swollen legs
  • Trouble breathing/elevated respiratory rate

Lymphoma Tumors in Bulldogs / DIAGNOSIS:

Diagnosis of Lymphoma in Dogs

Diagnostic tests are needed to recognize lymphosarcoma and exclude other diseases.

  1. BLOOD COUNT (CBC): abnormal count and abnormal cells
  2. BLOOD CHEMISTRY:  some lymphoma cases will have high blood calcium level
  3. RADIOGRAPHS: chest X-rays can  help rule out metastatic disease to the lungs and large chest mass
  4. FNA (fine needle aspirate):  aspirating cell from an enlarged lymph node for cytological exam
  5. BIOPSY: for histopathology
  6. ULTRASOUND: to survey the abdomen for abnormalities

Bulldog Lymphoma cancer cytology

Lymphoma Tumors in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs / PREVENTION

While there is no guaranteed way to prevent lymphoma in dogs due to the complex interplay of genetic and environmental factors that contribute to the disease, certain strategies may help lower the risk or potentially improve the overall health and immune system of your bulldog.


V4B Immune therapeutic supplement french Bulldog puppy

Here’s a closer look at these preventative strategies:


Genetic Screening:  Choosing breeding animals with no history of lymphoma or related cancers in their lineage might reduce the risk for future generations.


Exercise and Weight Management: Maintaining a dog’s healthy weight through regular exercise and a balanced diet can support overall health and potentially reduce cancer risk. Obesity has been linked to an increased risk of various diseases, including some cancers, in both humans and animals.


  • Balanced Nutrition: Feeding dogs a well-balanced diet suited to their age, breed, and health status can support their immune system.
  • Reduced Carcinogen Exposure: Minimizing exposure to potential dietary carcinogens, such as those found in some processed foods or foods with artificial additives, could be beneficial.


Reducing Stress: Chronic stress can impact the immune system, potentially making dogs more susceptible to diseases. Providing a stable, enriched environment with regular routines, plenty of physical and mental stimulation, and minimal exposure to stressful situations may contribute to overall health.

Bulldog stress less calm chew


  • Medical Mushrooms: Certain medicinal mushrooms, such as Reishi, Turkey Tail, and Shiitake, have been studied for their immune-boosting and anti-cancer properties.
  • Antioxidants, Vitamins, and Minerals: Supplements containing antioxidants (e.g., vitamins E and C), omega-3 fatty acids, and other specific vitamins and minerals may support immune health.
  • Probiotics: Probiotics can support gut health, which is closely linked to overall immune function. A healthy gut microbiome may contribute to a stronger immune system, potentially influencing cancer risk.
  • Essential Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oil and certain plant oils, have anti-inflammatory properties and may support immune health.
    • V4B Bully Fish Oil
  • Anti-anxiety and StressLess supplements can help calm anxious pets

bulldog multivitamin


Lymphoma Tumors in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs TREATMENT

Chemotherapy is the most common treatment employed in treating lymphoma in bulldogs, though alternative modalities like radiation and surgery may also be applicable in certain scenarios.

While chemotherapy can initially seem daunting, it’s commonly associated with concerns about potential side effects among pet owners. To assist you in making the best decision for both you and your pet, we’ve outlined a brief list of crucial considerations:

  1. Quality of Life: Your primary aim should be to extend your pet’s life while minimizing any associated discomfort.
  2. Side Effects: Unlike in humans, instances of hair loss or facial swelling are rare in dogs undergoing chemotherapy. Generally, pets tolerate treatment well with minimal side effects.
  3. Age and Physical Condition: Both the age and overall health of your pet should factor into your decision-making process.
  4. Cost: Financial considerations can play a significant role in determining the best course of action.
  5. Time Commitment: Certain aspects of the chemotherapy protocol may necessitate hospital visits and extended stays, so be prepared to commit time to your pet’s treatment.
  6. Lifestyle Preferences: Some owners may have a preference for alternative treatments.

By carefully weighing these factors alongside your veterinarian’s guidance, you can determine the most appropriate treatment plan for your pet’s specific needs and circumstances.


CHOP is an acronym for a chemotherapy protocol commonly used in the treatment of lymphoma in dogs. It consists of four drugs:

  • cyclophosphamide
  • doxorubicin
  • vincristine
  • prednisolone/prednisone.

CHOP protocols involve drugs with specific handling requirements and are typically administered by veterinary oncology specialists.

Lymphoma Tumors in Bulldogs PROGNOSIS

With chemotherapy, lymphoma in dogs can frequently enter a state of remission. However, it’s important to understand that remission signifies a temporary resolution of all signs of lymphoma, rather than a cure.

The choice of treatment protocol can significantly impact the disease-free interval, which refers to the length of time during which a dog with lymphoma remains free of clinical signs of the disease. Several factors influence the disease-free interval, including the specific type of lymphoma, any concurrent health conditions the dog may have, and any prior treatments received.

On average, remission with a full chemotherapy protocol lasts for about eight to nine months, with an average survival time of around one to one and a half years.

It’s crucial to note that these figures are averages, and individual outcomes can vary widely. Some dogs may experience a shorter duration of remission, while others may live longer than one year.

With prednisone alone given at home as palliative treatment, life expectancy is under three months.

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The information provided on this platform is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian regarding any medical condition. It's important to always consider professional medical advice promptly and not to delay seeking it based on information you've read on this platform. Any reliance on the information provided here is entirely at your discretion.

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