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What is Intestinal Tract Disease (Lymphangiectasia)?

The lymphatic system has various functions. Normally, it carries waste from tissues to the bloodstream, absorbs fats after digestion, and provides an immune defense to several areas of the body. With the disruption caused by lymphangiectasia, the usual function of drainage is disrupted and the proteins, fats, and white blood cells leak into the intestinal tract. The benefits which are normally realised are lost in the process, resulting in a life-threatening illness.

Lymphangiectasia is an intestinal disease whereby the lymphatic fluid of the body is leaked into the gastrointestinal tract. The condition results in a loss of protein from the body and can lead to your dog becoming seriously ill.

Intestinal Tract Disease (Lymphangiectasia) Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $500 - $2,500

Average Cost

$950

Symptoms of Intestinal Tract Disease (Lymphangiectasia) in Dogs

Some of the signs of lymphangiectasia can be intermittent. Do not assume that your pet is feeling better because of the lack of consistency in the symptoms. If your pet is exhibiting any of the following signs, a visit to the veterinarian is warranted.

Types

Primary

  • Congenital, possibly due to abnormal lymphatic vessel development

Acquired

  • Occurs later in life, perhaps due to an obstruction of the lymphatic outflow or venous hypertension

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Causes of Intestinal Tract Disease (Lymphangiectasia) in Dogs

The reason for this condition is not fully known and cannot always be determined with each case. Some of the causes for the lack of outflow of lymphatic fluid, whether congenital or acquired, are thought to be the following:

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Diagnosis of Intestinal Tract Disease (Lymphangiectasia) in Dogs

Intestinal tract disorders are usually diagnosed through the process of elimination of other diseases that have the same presentation. For example, hypoadrenocorticism could account for the distended abdomen that may be obvious in your dog. Heartworm disease could be suspected, as could hypoalbuminemia, which causes changes in the protein levels in the blood. Food allergies, irritable bowel disease and cancer are other diseases that your veterinarian will rule out by process of elimination.

Your veterinarian will begin with a physical examination that will include palpation of the lymph nodes to look for enlargement or the presence of a mass that could be causing an obstruction. The abdomen will be checked also, for masses that may explain the distention. A urinalysis and fecal smear will be standard procedure, in order to determine if there is bacteria or parasites causing the illness.

Other diagnostic tests that will be performed are a complete blood count and biochemical verification of the blood. Thoracic radiographs will evaluate the condition of the heart, and verify if there is any fluid accumulation. An ultrasound may show if there are visible abnormalities in the organs. An electrocardiogram will check for heart disease. Endoscopy or laparotomy are other tests that could be done, but the laparotomy is known to be a procedure that has a high occurrence of postoperative complications. Additional tests that can prove to be valuable to the diagnosis are the fine needle aspirate, whereby the fluid that is withdrawn is examined under a microscope. A biopsy of the gastrointestinal tract can show tissue changes or damage.

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Treatment of Intestinal Tract Disease (Lymphangiectasia) in Dogs

The treatment will depend on the condition of your dog when he arrives at the clinic. In order to stabilize your pet, anti-inflammatories and diuretics may be administered to reduce inflammation and control fluid build up.

Diet will be a very important part of the treatment because due to the lymphangiectasia, your dog is most likely already malnourished from loss of nutrients in the intestine. A combination of corticosteroids and strict dietary changes will be prescribed. The steroid (most likely prednisone), in combination with a highly digestible diet will be a lifelong change necessary for your pet’s well being. Restoring protein levels is key to recovery, as is limiting the amount of inflammation in your dog’s intestinal tract.

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Recovery of Intestinal Tract Disease (Lymphangiectasia) in Dogs

Because of the changes that must be so carefully be followed and maintained even though there is no cure in sight, you may feel a bit overwhelmed. Your veterinarian can prescribe the proper food regimen required to keep your pet as healthy as possible. Do not change the diet without discussing it with the veterinarian first, and voicing your concerns or reasons for the change. Medication, in the form of a low daily dose, could be a needed drug protocol for life. Remission of a few months to a few years is possible.

Lymphangiectasia can be expensive to treat. If you suspect your dog has lymphangiectasia or is at risk, start searching for pet insurance today. Brought to you by Pet Insurer, Wag! Wellness lets pet parents compare insurance plans from leading companies like PetPlan and Trupanion. Find the “pawfect” plan for your pet in just a few clicks!

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Intestinal Tract Disease (Lymphangiectasia) Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $500 - $2,500

Average Cost

$950

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Intestinal Tract Disease (Lymphangiectasia) Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Maxwell

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Maltese

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5 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Originally He Had Fluid In Lungs

My 5 year old Maltese was diagnosed with lymphangiectasis 4 months ago. He is on Science z/d wet and dry and has a healthy appetite. He is on meds to manage his disease and I know that the omeprizole is meant to soothe his digestive tract. My question is whether to feed him once or twice a day? I have been feeding 4 ounces of wet twice a day and leaving out a bowl of dry. His stools are firm and levels are up a bit, but I wonder if it would be better to feed once a day and then let his GI tract rest. If I give him half of the can at one time, he absolutely wolfs it down, so there is no problem getting the same amount of food into him.

Aug. 7, 2018

Maxwell's Owner


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0 Recommendations

If everything is stable and improving at the moment I would recommend changing anything as you don’t want a sudden change in dietary intake to cause any secondary issues (if the bear is asleep don’t poke the bear). You should continue monitoring for improvement and follow up with your Veterinarian regularly, only change frequency of meals if directed by your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 7, 2018

We have an 8 year old Morkie. He has had flair ups. We have had him drained while on an IV to replace proteins and other nutrients. Eats Science ID with MCT and Optima 365 and is taking Prednisone. He is eating here and there but not losing the fluid. Starting to see more Goop in his eyes. Been looking for stages of the disease or checks on quality of life. No longer jumping up on the couch, may not have the strength. How do you know if it has taken over or his body is no longer strong enough to process things correctly?

Aug. 22, 2018

Brett

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stanley

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German Shepherd

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3 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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2 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Loss Of Appetite
Loose Bowel Movements

Hello: Is there such a thing is secondary lymphangiectasia - coming from food allergy or IBS? And if so, is there a way to determine whether my dog has genetic (primary) or caused by another issue (secondary) lymphangiectasia? My 3 year old German Shepherd was diagnosed with Lymphangiectasia about 2 years ago, but I have no way of knowing if it was caused by another issue or it is primary. He was on Pred for about 14 months which I have slowly weened him off completely. He has eaten only Purina HA (soy protein) since. Recently, because his appetite wanes so much, I tried introducing freeze dried raw lamb in his diet for palatability and overall health. 6-7 weeks later he has begun having diarrhea again and loss of appetite.

July 24, 2018

stanley's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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2 Recommendations

It can be difficult to determine whether Stanley's lymphangiectasia is primary or secondary, and what we usually have to do is rule out other causes of the disease to figure out how to treat it. Sometimes, we can't determine the actual cause, but are able to treat it. There are definitely secondary causes for lymphangiectasia.

July 25, 2018

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Intestinal Tract Disease (Lymphangiectasia) Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $500 - $2,500

Average Cost

$950

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