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What is Lymph Node Inflammation (Lymphadenopathy)?

Lymph nodes are an important part of your dog’s immune response. They belong to the lymphatic system, a circulatory network that produces and transports a white blood cell containing fluid called lymph. Lymph carries infection causing antigens to the lymph nodes, which in turn produce extra antibodies to fight the infection. Lymph nodes play a crucial role in the body’s response to disease, allergic reactions, and auto-immune responses. Lymph nodes are found in many different parts of the body, including five external sites as well as inside the abdominal cavity and the chest. Any disease or abnormality of the lymph nodes is called lymphadenopathy. Lymph node enlargement is the most common symptom associated with lymphadenopathy. In many cases, short-term enlargement is only a minor symptom of infection that suggests the immune system is working harder and white blood cells are congregating in the lymph nodes; however chronically enlarged lymph nodes are an important early sign of cancer. Primary lymph node cancer is called lymphoma, and it is usually marked by swelling of the affected lymph nodes. Many types of leukemia also affect the lymphocytes and cause similar symptoms. Other cancers frequently metastasize to the lymph nodes first and may cause inflammation there as the immune system attempts to fight the neoplastic proteins. Veterinarians often evaluate the lymph nodes to determine whether a cancerous condition is in the final or early stages. Not all lymphadenopathy are cancerous. Benign tumors can also make the lymph nodes swollen, and chronic inflammation from an allergic reaction or a persistent infection may cause similar symptoms.

Lymph nodes are small glands that play a crucial role in the immune system in dogs. They are found in many different places in the body, both externally close to the skin and internally in the chest and abdomen. Abnormality or enlargement of the lymph nodes is called lymphadenopathy. This can be caused by many different diseases, including bacterial or fungal infection, and cancer.

Lymph Node Inflammation (Lymphadenopathy) Average Cost

From 22 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$1,500

Symptoms of Lymph Node Inflammation (Lymphadenopathy) in Dogs

Lymphoma is a common cancer in dogs, so it’s a good idea to get your pet checked out if you notice persistent swelling in this area. These are some of the signs to look for.

Enlarged lymph nodes

  • Under the muzzle
  • In the shoulder area at the jointure between the front legs and the body
  • Either side of the chest or the armpit area
  • On the abdomen close to the back legs
  • On the back legs, close to the knees

Other symptoms

  • Nausea or lack of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty swallowing, eating, or breathing (if the lymph nodes on the jaw are very swollen)
  • General malaise
  • Fever

Types

Your dog has several different types of lymph nodes.

External

– these are lymph located close to the surface where swelling can cause a palpable lump. On dogs, they are found in five specific areas of the body.

Submandibular

–on the jaw

Prescapular

– shoulder 

Axillary

– armpit area

Inguinal

- abdomen

Popliteal

– knee area on the back legs

Internal

– these are lymph nodes located inside the chest and abdominal cavities; enlargement is not detectable with palpation, but it will be visible on an x-ray

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Causes of Lymph Node Inflammation (Lymphadenopathy) in Dogs

These are the main causes of lymphadenopathy

  • Many different bacterial, viral, or fungal infections cause the lymph nodes to become enlarged (this can be the lymph nodes’ response to a general infection, or it can be an infection that takes root in the lymph nodes themselves and causes long-term inflammation which is called called lymphadenitis)
  • Allergic reaction
  • Auto-immune response
  • Cancer such as lymphoma or lymphosarcoma, lymphocytic leukemia, metastasis from another type of cancer
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Diagnosis of Lymph Node Inflammation (Lymphadenopathy) in Dogs

The veterinarian will palpate your dog’s lymph nodes during the physical examination. It is much easier for a professional to diagnose enlarged lymph nodes than an untrained dog owner, so many lymphadenopathy are discovered on an examination performed for another reason. If you want to check your dog’s lymph nodes at home on a regular basis, the veterinarian may be able to show you where and what to look for. Lymph nodes that are enlarged because of a neoplastic condition are usually painless and hard, however if lymphadenitis is present, and the lymph nodes are inflamed, they may be tender and warmer than the surrounding area.

Thoracic and abdominal x-rays or ultrasound will diagnose enlargement in the internal lymph nodes. These may be ordered after a physical exam or because your dog is experiencing other symptoms of systemic illness. Depending on the cause of the lymphadenopathy, a blood test may show elevated levels of white blood cells because the body is fighting an infection. This may also be the case with allergic reactions and auto-immune responses. With cancerous conditions like leukemia or lymphoma, abnormal white blood cells may appear on a blood test.

The best way to find the cause of lymphadenopathy is through microscopic examination of a cellular sample. A needle aspirant can be performed on an external lymph node with a local anesthetic. The veterinarian will insert a very small, hollow tube and extract a sample. Since an aspirate only removes a small sample from a specific part of the gland, the veterinarian may also prefer to remove the entire lymph node and examine it. This will determine for certain what kind of condition is causing your dog’s symptoms.

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Treatment of Lymph Node Inflammation (Lymphadenopathy) in Dogs

Treatment will depend on the cause of lymphadenopathy. Bacterial or fungal infections will be treated with an antibiotic or antifungal medication. If an allergic reaction is causing the problem, a specific allergen may be identified and avoided, however this is often difficult. Unknown allergic reactions or autoimmune responses will be treated with cortisone or another steroid medication to reduce inflammation.

In the early stages, lymphoma may be treatable with surgery, however, chemotherapy medication is a more common treatment. Medication should be started immediately since untreated dogs typically die in four to six weeks. Lymphocytic leukemia is also treated with oral or intravenous chemotherapy medication. Other cancers that are affecting the lymph nodes through metastasis may be removable surgically, followed by chemotherapy or radiation treatment.

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Recovery of Lymph Node Inflammation (Lymphadenopathy) in Dogs

Many types of infectious lymphadenopathy are treatable and your dog will make a complete recovery. Cancerous causes often don’t have a good prognosis, but this will depend on the type of cancer and the stage it is in. Your veterinarian may be able to give you a better idea of your dog’s chances upon diagnosis.

The best way to manage the lymphadenopathy is by learning how to check for enlarged lymph nodes, and examining your dog regularly. Lymphoma is one of the most common types of cancer in dogs and early treatment is much more effective. If you take your dog to the veterinarian at the first sign of a problem the chances of recovery will be much higher.

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Lymph Node Inflammation (Lymphadenopathy) Average Cost

From 22 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$1,500

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Lymph Node Inflammation (Lymphadenopathy) Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Minature daschun

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One Year

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Bee Sting And Vaginosis

Dog was stung by a bee today then presented swollen nose, and lymph node on next. Also experiencing swollen vagina

Sept. 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I am sorry for the delay, this platform is not set up for urgent emails. If she is still experiencing these problems, it would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian, as she may need therapy for the reaction. If she is not spayed, she may be going into heat.

Oct. 10, 2020

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Jack Russell Terrier

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Twelve Years

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4 found helpful

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None

My dog had a lot of issues. 4 months ago he had an ultrasound with enlarged lymph nodes in his GI and was really sick. They believed he had lymphoma. Its been 4 months and all he has been given is prednisone. The lymph nodes are significantly smaller and he has normal blood work. Could it be something else??

Sept. 11, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Kate D. MA VetMB MRCVS

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4 Recommendations

Hello, Thanks for contacting us about your dog; I'm sorry to hear he has been unwell. I understand that you are not certain whether your dog has lymphoma. Did your dog have other tests done apart from the ultrasound and blood tests? Enlarged lymph nodes on ultrasound of the abdomen can indeed indicate lymphoma. However, there are also other conditions that can cause enlarged lymph nodes and abnormal blood work, such as inflammatory conditions and autoimmune conditions, for example. Diagnosis is usually based on the pattern of lymph node enlargement, the relative values of different blood components on the blood screen, and ideally also with some samples of lymph tissue like needle samples or biopsies. So I'm afraid it's not possible for me to say whether your dog definitely has lymphoma or not, but it sounds like your vet has said it is likely that your dog has lymphoma based on a full assessment of the pattern of results and symptoms that your dog is showing. In cases where we are unable to take samples and are suspicious of lymphoma, prednisone is a reasonable choice of treatment. It has anti-cancer activity and also reduces inflammation and other immune responses that could be causing the symptoms or exacerbating your dog's condition. It would be rare to start on more intense chemotherapy unless we had a definite diagnosis and were certain not only that we were dealing with lymphoma, but what kind of lymphoma and therefore what treatment would work best. Even in cases of confirmed lymphoma, prednisone is a fair choice as it can have a good result without the side effects of chemotherapy. If you feel you would like to know more definitively what you are dealing with, I would approach your vet and discuss more diagnostics. There will be pros and cons to weigh up in making this choice, amongst them cost and risk of anaesthetic or surgery if needed for a biopsy. It is also fair to decide not to proceed with diagnostics at this stage, and to move forwards with your vet in adjusting your dog's treatment to his current condition. It sounds like he is responding well to the prednisolone, and that your vet is monitoring his progress closely. I hope that helps, and that your dog continues to improve. Please let us know if there is more we can help with.

Sept. 11, 2020

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American Staffordshire Terrier mix

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Seven Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Mandibular Lymph Node

My dog has recently and suddenly (within mere hours) developed a swollen lymph node around the mandibular region. She seems COMPLETELY normal otherwise and the region does feel ever so slightly warmer than the surrounding area. Should I be concerned?

Sept. 8, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Gina U. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Hello Yes it is definitely something that should be looked at by a veterinarian. A swollen lymph node can indicate infection, inflammation or cancer. Your vet may want to take an aspirate of the tissue or even a biopsy and send it off to a lab to be evaluated. This should be done sooner rather than later. Good luck.

Sept. 10, 2020

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Bloodhound

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Five Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Swollen Leg, Loss Of Hair

My bloodhound recently has continuously been scratching and chewing and everything I've tried giving her a new diet and proving it with better quality because I was told that it could have an effect on the type of diet she's eating we've also been given antibiotics to give to her. But the scratching continued I'm 100% sure it was more anxiety because she doesn't do it when she's in the living room sitting with my children but if she is in her kennel she's absolutely doing it. Now in the past few days she's lost all the hair on her rear end and her right hind leg is swollen from the ankle up. She's not in any pain and she's I

Aug. 19, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question, I'm sorry your dog is having these problems. This problem might be caused by a bacterial infection, a fungal infection, a parasite, a Mite, or an allergy. Since it does not seem to be getting better, it may be best to have your dog seen by a veterinarian. They can do a simple skin test to rule out parasites, and give medications for allergies if that's what's going on. If it is to the point where the leg is swollen, it would be best to have your dog seen as soon as possible. I hope that everything goes well.

Aug. 19, 2020

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Bloodhound

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Five Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Leg, Loss Of Hair

My bloodhound recently has continuously been scratching and chewing and everything I've tried giving her a new diet and proving it with better quality because I was told that it could have an effect on the type of diet she's eating we've also been given antibiotics to give to her. But the scratching continued I'm 100% sure it was more anxiety because she doesn't do it when she's in the living room sitting with my children but if she is in her kennel she's absolutely doing it. Now in the past few days she's lost all the hair on her rear end and her right hind leg is swollen from the ankle up. She's not in any pain and she's I

Aug. 19, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question, I'm sorry your dog is having these problems. This problem might be caused by a bacterial infection, a fungal infection, a parasite, a Mite, or an allergy. Since it does not seem to be getting better, it may be best to have your dog seen by a veterinarian. They can do a simple skin test to rule out parasites, and give medications for allergies if that's what's going on. If it is to the point where the leg is swollen, it would be best to have your dog seen as soon as possible. I hope that everything goes well.

Aug. 19, 2020

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Eddie

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Shepard/Retriever

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11 Years

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Seizure
Swollen Auxiliary Lymph Nodees

Our Dog Eddie has had swollen itchy auxillary lymph nodes fro about a month and experienced General seizure about an hour after eating on a Monday. We had changed his diet about a month prior to include white rice. The seizures happened 3 more times that week until we fasted him on the Wednesday. His blood came back 100% normal. The vet took a slide from his hind leg lymph node and said it looked like she found cancer cells. She also did a ultrasound and said she believes that the entire left lobe of his liver is cancerous. We made plans to put him to sleep on the Friday. I had asked the vet on the Thursday to do what she would do if he was her dog in regards to whether or not to feed him. She fed him wet puppy food because he refused the home cooked meal we had prepared. He did not have a seizure and on the Friday we feed him the same puppy food and no seizure. Needless to say we didn't put him down. It is now Wednesday of the next week. His coat is shiny, nose wet and cool, great apatite, no lethargy, or any outward signs at all of cancer. I believe that he was fighting off a U.T.I., and coupled with the white rice in his diet, he became hyperglycemic resulting in seizure. If he really does have progressed liver cancer and lymphoma is it possible for him to be in such a good condition?

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Aspen

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Siberian Husky

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3 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Enlarged Lymph Nodes
Lethargy
Decreased Appetite
Vomoting
Change In Eye Color

A few weeks ago I noticed an enlarged lymph node under her jaw on both sides. I took her to our vet where she was given a round or steroids and Clindamycin. She returned in 2 weeks and the lymph nodes were back to normal. This week the lymph nodes were swelling again so today we returned to the vet with vomiting, lethargy, decreased appetite and weakness in her hind quarters. Today we did a fine needle aspiration and the vet is very certain it is lymphoma. Blood work up shows everything normal except the monocyte count and it was 40x more than normal. We left with the very likely probability that it is cancer and are planning on starting treatment as soon as possible. The dvm put her on prednisone and something for nausea and vomiting. My husky has blue eyes and tonight we have noticed that her eyes have turned green. Can someone please help me with some answers? My dog is so young and I cant imagine life without her

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Kate

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Schnoodle

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12 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Mendibular

Two weeks ago I noticed that one lymph node was swollen in my sweet Kate's neck. Kate is a "Schnoodle" who turned 12 a week ago. She acts fine. Her appetite is unchanged & she's always up for a game of fetch. The vet put her on a round of Cephalexin in hopes that she had an infection. Now we are a week out & the antibiotic did not make a difference. Blood work was done yesterday & everything looked good, except for one liver enzyme, which was very slightly elevated. He said that having blood drawn or being anxious could cause that. So now my sweet girl is scheduled to have her gland removed & biopsied next week. I am a nervous wreck! Is it possible that this could be benign? Since she is acting normal, should I postpone the surgery? If it is cancer, has anyone else tried CBD oil?

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Millie

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terrier

dog-age-icon

4 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Lymph Node
Swollen Lymph Node Swollen Eyes

Went to bed Saturday night, woke up at 1 to let Millie out to pee. She went to her usual spot and came right back in. Wake back up at 9 and look at my dog and both her eyes are squinty and hardly open. Figured allergies, rinsed with saline and gave a Benadryl. Hours later no difference, inner eyelid is all I can see when trying to look in eye. Took her to vet, and on way found a large inflamed lymph node on her neck. Doc hopes it’s simple but concerned it’s lymphoma. Gave me antibiotics for eyes until aspirate and blood comes back.going on day 3 and still no change. She won’t open her eyes and is very lethargic. Lymph seems to have decreased a little but not much. She has an good appetite and not showing any other concerning symptoms. I live in a rural area and frequently find scorpions and spiders in and around the house, but haven’t found any sting or bite marks on her. It all happened so quick I don’t know what to think.

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MAXINE (MAX)

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Blue Heeler

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7 Months

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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

Enlarged Lymph Nodes

Max my 7 Month old blue healer has gone in for the 2nd time for major sickness 1st time when she was 5 months old The vet done almost every test she could x-rays and all and couldnt find any thing wrong all negative tests. She was not eating, getting weak, and ran high fever almost 106 when i got her to the vet the 1st time.... and all vet could do was give her antib. and other meds and kept her over night and then sent her home with 3 different meds and i gave to her til gone. She was doing good and NOW 6 weeks Later i came home from work and she started not eating, not wanting to play as always, drooling from mouth, then noticed a large knot on her left side under jaw and under neck area. So called vet and then tuck her in on Monday morning and he has her now... same as other vet has no idea of what is causing this sickness, they have her fever down and has antib. going in to her now and she seems to feel better but will be keeping her overnight.... QUESTIONS: Could it be caused from giving her the Rawhides with treats wrapped on them? Or something that i should be aware of outside??? i have asked so many questions and all seem to be a NO ANAWER.

Lymph Node Inflammation (Lymphadenopathy) Average Cost

From 22 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$1,500

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