Intestinal Tract Disease (Lymphangiectasia) Average Cost

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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.

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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.

  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fluid accumulation in tissues of the limbs (peripheral edema)
  • Fluid in the pleural space (ascites)
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Vomiting
  • Cough



  • Congenital, possibly due to abnormal lymphatic vessel development


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

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:

  • Inflammation of the intestine
  • Right sided congenital heart failure
  • Obstruction of vessels in the thoracic duct
  • Intestinal cancer
  • Dilation of the blood vessels
  • Breeds predisposed are Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, Yorkshire Terrier, Norwegian Lundehund, Maltese, Shar Pei, and Rottweiler

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.

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.

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.

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

French Bulldog
4 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms


Our vet suspects our frenchie has lymphangiectasia. We’ve had a rough few weeks but now after getting used to a very low fat diet we have firm stools again and low normal levels of albumin. He has lost 3lbs (healthy is 20lbs for him) and has been very lethargic. My question- now that he’s forming hard stools again and his albumin is up will his body begin absorbing the protein and nutrients he needs to gain weight and feel better? Or will this disease always prevent him from getting proper nutrition/protein?

He is being fed a little over 2 cups of boiled extra lean beef, broccoli and sweet potatoes as well as digestive enzymes and balance it canine nutrition balancer. We feed him small meals 6 times a day. He’s still on prednislone, metronidazole ands tylosin powder.

Now that we are seeing positive signs I just want hope that he can get weight back on him and get his energy back.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1397 Recommendations
If Gio has lymphangectasia, he will need a special diet and medications for life to help his body absorb the nutrients that he needs. It is great that you have been able to manage his condition, that can be very difficult! I hope that everything continues to go well for him.

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Jack Russell Terrier
10 Years
Serious condition
1 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Abdominal Distension

10 year old Jack Russel, presenting complaint, pleural effusion and low protein.
After undergoing x-rays, blood tests and an ultrasound the diagnosis from the vets was a protein losing enteropathy caused by Lymphangiectasia. My vet told me to feed him a hydrolyzed diet, Royal Canine Ultamino. He would not eat it so vet said he could have duck or salmon. In order to get all of his pills in him we have to hide them in pieces of duck. I have another vet who told me to feed him GI low fat dog food and give him 1/2 teaspoon of MCT oil twice a day? He won't eat hardly at all? How do we get meds into him?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2981 Recommendations

At this point, in order to get Max to take his pills, you may need to use a bit of gentle (if not stern) force; it can be distressing to get owners to give pills directly into their loved ones mouth and hold the muzzle up and rub their neck until they swallow, but in some circumstances it is the best course of action so that the pills at least are being taken, if done well Max will learn the routine and will be more familiar with the process. Speak to your Veterinarian about the best way to perform this. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Neither duck or salmon are low fat proteins. Strict adherence to a low fat diet is the basis for the treatment of lymphangiectasia.

Salmon is a slow and easily absorbed protein - my dog was diagnosed at 3 years old she is going on 12 years, and for a rottweiler that is amazing. That is what she eats.She has had her ups and downs, this is not a disease for the week of heart but she is still with us.

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Border Collie Britt
8 Years
Moderate condition
1 found helpful
Moderate condition

My dog has protein, blood, transitional cells,, a few crysatals, and sediment in his urine. His albumin moves up and down, from almost critically low to low normal. He coughs quietly, makes a snapping sound with his mouth, has poor appetite. He is taking temerolP, which helps his appetite. He groans at night. One of his eyes has has a runny discharge that started two weeks ago. Yesterday he peed twice inside, which is very unusual for him. This constellation of symptoms has been occurring for three months. What do you think it is?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2981 Recommendations
From your description, I would be looking at the kidneys in more detail to see if there is any tumour or structural anomaly which may account for the presence of blood, protein, transitional cells and crystals in the urine; an x-ray of the abdomen and ultrasound of the kidneys would be valuable to look at possible causes for these symptoms. If a blood test hasn’t been done yet, that should also be carried out; I cannot give you much guidance or a diagnosis without examining Mickey thoroughly but try an x-ray and ultrasound to start with. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Minature Dachshund
2 Years
Serious condition
1 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

lymphatic fluid

Medication Used

Medrol 4mg,Azapress 50mg Meditrich

Our Bella has been diagnosed with Lymphangiectasia whereby in her case, the lymphatic fluid of the body is leaked into the gastrointestinal tract. She has been put onto a strict low fat diet and medication consisting of Medrol 4mg,Azapress 50mg and Meditrich.Her albumen is staying constant at 15 however, draining of the fluid on weekly basis is required as the vet is concerned that the fluid will go into her lungs. What else can be done/checked for, as her condition after 2 months treatment does not seem to be improving?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2981 Recommendations
Currently, Bella is on a typical treatment for lymphangiectasia consisting of low fat diet, corticosteroids (Medrol), immunosuppression (Azapress) and an antibiotic/antiprotozoal (Meditrich); there is no other treatment for lymphangiectasia apart from tweaking the treatment and managing other symptoms as they occur, however if the lymphangiectasia is secondary to other condition the primary condition would need to be treated as well. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Border Collie
11 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms


After a case of diarrhoea and vomiting blood, our Vet took a muscle tissue biopsy and confirmed from the laboratory that there is a dilation of one of the lymphatics in the muscle layers with a focal nodular lesion, which surrounds one the lymph vessels. The lesion is comprised of large bloated macrophages with admixed small numbers of lymphocytes, plasma cells, and rare neutrophils. The muscle layers and serosa are otherwise unremarkable and no infectious agents are noted and there is no evidence of a neoplastic process.
Diagnosis is Lymphangectasia - presumptive.

Our Vet is not sure what has caused this disease and has taken a blood sample to determine Mechis' vitamins levels and has provided supplements and started a course of corticosteroids.

Mechi does have an appetite, however very picky as he will not eat his vitamins unless they are crushed and served with mince (i've tried chicken and hot dogs). As Mechi is very picky I have narrowed down to chicken, rice, scrambled eggs, bran cereal, and turkey mince.

Is there any other food I should try to introduce to ensure he is getting enough nutrition?
Is a raw diet beneficial?
I'm afraid he is not getting enough protein and might suffer from thrombosis.
I've also noticed his eyes have a hazy look and he squints all the time.
Thank you!

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2981 Recommendations
There is no one fits all diet out there for lymphangiectasia as there are some variables; but in general it would be a low fat, high quality novel protein diet. When making homemade diets I would recommend consulting a Veterinary Nutritionist to ensure that Mechi has a balanced diet for his needs. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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