Dog Lymph Nodes – Lymphadenopathy, Lymphadenitis and Cancer

Lymphoma in Dogs

Dogs, just like humans, can suffer from different health conditions. While some are mild and can be treated at home, others can be life-threatening. This is why pet owners need to be aware of the signs that can indicate that something is not right with their pet.

The more you know about its traits, strengths, and weaknesses, the better you can look after it. This article aims to approach dog lymph nodes because they play a major role in how the immune system works. Furthermore, this is where the white cells are stored, thus any sign of inflammation needs to be kept under control.

Pet owners who find a lump or a bump that appears out of the blue on their dog usually take it as an injury.

However, if it does not disappear after several days or it keeps growing, it is generally the sign of something more serious. There are various causes that can lead to this illness, thus it is important to be able to identify them from an early stage.

This is why it is mandatory to take your pet to the veterinarian in order to receive further attention. Swollen lymph nodes usually indicate an infection. As a result, it is essential to localize it and stop it before it spreads throughout the body. In the following lines, you will find further details about this problem.

Location of Lymph Nodes

Enlarged lymph nodes are the first indicator that something is not right with your pet. However, in order to be able to spot the initial changes it is important to know the areas that need to be checked.

In most cases, a lump found in these specific places on the skin can indicate even cancer. At the same time, it is important to understand that early detection means higher chances to get the right treatment and to enjoy positive result.

This means that you need to accustom your pet with regular massages. Gently move your fingers along its skin, and make sure you pay extra attention in the following areas, as this is where the bumps or lumps can occur:

  1. underneath the muzzle;
  2. the back of the head;
  3. the armpits;
  4. the inguinal area;
  5. the back legs.


Lymphadenopathy is a condition that indicates swollen lymph nodes in dogs due to an infection. The nodes can be detected easily, as they can be felt at touch. Though in most cases the dog starts to display certain symptoms that can indicate this illness, there are situation when it feels absolutely fine. The bumps are usually located around the shoulder or just beneath the jaw.

Sometimes, the whole back leg or the joint can get swollen. Nausea is also very common, and this leads to lack of appetite. Furthermore, your pet can vomit almost immediately after it finishes its food. If the nodes located in the jaw area become very prominent, they can cause breathing difficulties and trouble while swallowing.

Lymphadenopathy Dogs

There are various causes that lead to this illness. The most important trigger is an infection in the organism. However, there are also other agents that can trigger it. In order to be able to take the right decision and to identify the problem at an early stage it is mandatory to be aware of the following situations:

  • an infection in the organism that forces the body to produce white blood cells in excess. In this case, the lymph nodes are not infected;
  • the lymph nodes get infected in the first place, or an infection that is already in the organism affects them;
  • an infection caused by external agents that attack the skin, bones, lungs and brain, generally caused by fungi, hay, or plants;
  • a bacterial infection transmitted by flies, fleas, or rodents;
  • a bacterial infection transmitted during breeding, or through the respiratory system;
  • a bacterial infection that affects the respiratory system;
  • a mycrobacterial infection transmitted through water;
  • allergies can make the body produce more cells and the first to respond are the lymph nodes that are situated close to the reaction;
  • an immune-mediate disease that causes the organism to overreact to certain external factors;
  • uncontrollable multiplication of white blood cells as a response to allergens or to parasitic agents;
  • leukemia;
  • canine hyperosinophilic syndrome.

In order to receive the correct diagnosis it is mandatory to take your pet to the veterinarian as soon as you notice any bumps. The situation is even more urgent if the dog starts to behave in a strange manner.

Lymph nodes cancer in dogs is a reality, thus immediate treatment is needed. The best way to find out the cause of the swollen nodes is to perform certain test, like blood profile, electrolyte panel, a complete blood count and a blood smear.

In most cases, the veterinarian will also take some liquid samples right from the nodes for detailed microscopic examination.

At this point, you need to be able to give the health history of your pet, and also include eventual symptoms and maybe incidents that can be associated with this disease. This is extremely important because it can point out the organs that are affected and cause the enlargement of the lymph nodes.

If the veterinarian has any doubts regarding the root of the problem, some other additional tests may be needed. The most common ones are the ultrasound and radiograph imaging because they provide a better perspective on the affected lymph nodes.

After the veterinarian has all the results he can prescribe the right treatment that can help the dog feel better. The medication depends on the cause, thus there is no general rule in this case.

It is also important to know that there are certain infections that can be transmitted to the owners. If you find out that your pet can be contagious, it is mandatory to make some tests yourself and ask the veterinarian which would be the optimal prevention options.

During the treatment period, it is a good idea to limit contact as much as possible, and most important to keep the dog away from other family members, and especially from kids and elderly.


Lymphadenitis occurs when the white blood cells migrate actively. It is important to know that there are different types of such cells that can lead to this illness. To be more exact, there are the cells accountable with digesting and engulfing pathogens, the ones responsible with the immune system, but also neutrophils that are the most abundant in the body. As the lymph nodes have filtration functions, they are directly exposed to toxic agents.

This condition occurs when an infectious agent manages to reach the lymph nodes. The body then reacts and starts to produce white blood cells in excess. Lymphadenitis is generally caused by mycrobacteria and fungi, known to be the pathogens that cause the most serious diseases in the animal kingdom.

The good news is that this illness is not transmitted genetically. However, pet owners need to know that puppies are more susceptible to it than adult dogs. The major problem is the immune system that is not fully developed.

As a result, infections can occur easily, especially if the dog gets in direct contact with contaminated water. This is why it is recommended to ensure a clean and safe environment for the little one, in order to help it develop normally. Furthermore, food is also important, and it is mandatory to put emphasis on ingredients that encourage an optimal development of the immune system.

You can try making homemade food for your dog, as it will boost their immune system.

Lymphadenitis is easy to observe because it makes the lymph nodes enlarge really bad and they can be noticed even by a person who knows nothing about veterinary medicine. However, these bums must not be approached with indifference, especially if they are painful when you touch them. Other symptoms associated that can point out that your pet is not feeling all right are fever, lack of appetite (it may also refuse its favorite treats), and in some cases you can actually see that the infected area displays visible signs.

If the cause is bacterial, the nodes can develop abscesses that can start to drain at the exterior. If this illness is not treated immediately it can develop complications and can even extend to the surrounding organs. This health problem is caused by several factors, as it can be seen in the table below:

— pathogenic species are known to cause this lymph nodes infection;- tularemia affects directly the lymph nodes, causing lymphadenitis. — in case of a fungi infection, lymphadenitis becomes a manifestation of the disease;- not all fungal agents cause this inflammation of the lymph nodes. — most viral infection cause the inflammation of the lymph nodes;- the most affected area is the abdomen. — protozoa can cause lymph nodes infection, but there is no general rule;- there are also certain links between lymphadenitis and pulmonary disease. — a compromised immune system is susceptible to infections, and as a result, lymphadenitis can occur.


In order to receive an accurate diagnosis you need to take your dog to the veterinarian as soon as possible. You will be also asked to present its health history in order to find a cause that leads to the symptoms the pet displays.

For more accurate results, the vet will have to examine the affected area and see whether it is the result of the inflammation of the lymph nodes or a tumor. It is very important to find the cause or causes that made this to happen. This is why it is extremely important to analyze your dog’s behavior daily so you can notice eventual changes. All details count in such a situation.


In order to receive an accurate and correct diagnosis the veterinarian will recommend several tests. The first ones that will be taken are the urinalysis and complete blood count. They will indicate if the illness is caused by bacteria or fungi.

In case the swollen lymph nodes are located in the abdomen or chest area, ultrasound imaging and X-ray will also be required for more accurate results. It is also extremely important to take liquid samples from the inflamed area, thus the veterinarian will perform a fine-needle aspiration to determine the composition.

As lymphadenitis is a lesion, there is no fix treatment that can cure it. To be more exact, the therapeutic recommendations can differ from a patient to another. Once the characteristics of the inflammation are established, the veterinarian can prescribe the adequate treatment. You also need to know that it depends directly on the results of the collected liquid. In most cases, this illness is treated with antibiotics.

However, this is no general rule, so you must not be concerned if the veterinarian comes with something different. It is mandatory to follow the exact specifications of the vet. Furthermore, you will have to attend regular check-ups to make sure that the infection was eliminated completely. Just like in the case of Lymphadenopathy, some organisms can be transmitted to humans.

As a result, you need to ask for guidelines to protect yourself and the family, but also eventual pets. In this kind of situation, it is extremely important to remain calm. The treatment will make your dog feel better, and with a bit of care, everything will get back to normal in no time.

Lymph Nodes and Cancer

Unfortunately, the inflammation of the lymph nodes can also be an indicator of something more serious. Though cancer sounds like a terrible illness, if it is approached in a correct manner and identified at an early stage it can be removed from the organism. The first things that should take you directly to the vet with no delay are large swellings in the areas where the lymph nodes are located.

Just like in the two examples presented above, the diagnosis will be revealed based on a fine needle aspiration. This procedure does not take long and the results are 100% accurate. The test results will prove whether there are or not cancerous cells in the liquid.

Unlike lymphadenopathy and lymphadenitis, in case of lymph nodes cancer, the initial problem starts in the circulation system. As a result, surgical removal is ineffective. It is also true that it is very hard to cure, considering that the fluid can easily spread throughout the body. This is why it is extremely important to identify this illness at an early stage, to be able to receive the right treatment.

When lymphosarcoma occurs, the healthy cells in the lymphatic system become cancerous and they circulate throughout the body just like the normal ones do. Their mobility makes them impossible to locate in a single place. When the number of these cells starts to increase they cause swellings. This is when you notice that the lymph nodes start to enlarge.


The veterinarian is the most entitled to come with an adequate treatment. In order to get the desired results you must follow it accordingly. Besides the medication, there are some other things you can do in order to ease the pain and help the organism fight the cancerous cells. Love and care are mandatory, and you can also consider including the following steps in your daily routine:

  • Change its diet completely and start cooking meals that can improve the immune system and strengthens its organism;
  • Chemotherapy, though it has some unpleasant effects, it is the best way to fight this illness. It is also important to know that nowadays drugs come with minimal side-effects for the pet. An oncologist can tell you more about this option;
  • Look for healthy supplements that can give your dog strength. Just make sure that they are made of healthy ingredients. In this case, it is recommended to ask the veterinarian which brand is the best;
  • You can ask the veterinarian about the herbs that can help the organism fight cancer and include them in the daily diet;
  • Make sure that you pet faces no stressful situations and assure it a cozy place to rest all day. You can also encourage it and try to spend as much time as you can with it;
  • Gentle massages can also help the dog feel better. Just make sure you do not put too much pressure on the affected areas;
  • In some cases, acupuncture can also help. Ask your veterinarian as he is the most entitled to decide whether it is appropriate for your dog;
  • Make sure your pet gets at least 8 or 9 hours of sleep each night.


Lymph nodes inflammation is an illness that can affect the dog’s organism in various ways. While in some situations it can be treated with the right medicines, in others it can turn out to be life-threatening. This is why it is recommended to keep a close eye on the exposed areas in order to observe eventual swellings.


It is extremely important to ask for professional advice in order to determine the cause and establish an adequate treatment. As in some cases the lymph nodes can become painful, it is important to assure a comfortable place for the dog to rest. Also remember, that a balanced and healthy diet can strengthen the immune system and this helps your pet fight any disease more efficiently.