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Enlarged Lymph Node in Dog
CDC56 posted:
I just returned from the vet with my 3 year old Yorkie. Last week I brought her in because she cried when I picked her up. The vet found an enlarged lymph node under her neck. He aspirated it and did blood work which all came back normal. I brought her back today for a recheck and after 7 days of antibiotic she still has an enlargement- although it reduced in size about 1/3. The vet felt that even though my dog seems fine now with no pain, the doxycyline doesn't seem to have reduced the size enough and wants to remove it and biopsy it. The dreaded "C" word was discussed and I am beside myself with worry. Although the vet took more blood from her today to test for infectious diseases, he does not think it is likely to be an infectious disease. I don't understand how the blood work and aspiration results could have come back ok and yet there is a good chance that the lymph node is cancerous. Any thoughts on this subject would be very much appreciated.
BullwinkleRocks responded:
About 3 weeks ago I noticed that my 7 year old female beagle her blood in her urine. I was given a vet appointment for several days later. Over the next few days I noticed that my dog was sluggish, and not eating. Other day I was taking her to the vet I was alarmed that her was very swollen on her left side. Once at the vet an exam was given to my dog. The vet said my dog's lymph nodes was swollen in various parts of her body. The vet did x-rays, as well as an aspiration from my dog's lymph node in he back leg. The vet said the x-rays seem to confirm that my dog had swollen nodes, and said it could be cancer, or and infection of some type. The vet suggested that we start the dog on antibiotics right away and scheduled an appointment 1 week later. The vet did not take any blood or urine test at that time. Also the vet said if there was no improvement the aspiration fluid could be sent out to see if it was cancer. I took my dog home, giving her 2 500mg antibiotics each day. The first several days my dog would not eat, maybe a small sliver of lunchmeat. Also she would just sleep, very sluggish, and her neck and head continued to swell. After about 4 or 5 days I noticed that my dog was doing better, eating some and was more alert and moving about. Took her to the vet 2 days later and she was more alert and eating. The swelling was starting to go down in her neck. The vet did a urine test and said that the white cell count was ok. Since it seemed that my dog was responding to the antibiotic the vet said let's give her another week.... I took the dog home and over the next week she seemed to become herself again. Eating good, going out in the yard alot, playing with her toy etc... I took her back to the vet this past Tuesday. The vet said she seem better, but the nodes in her neck were still quite swollen, even thought her face was not. The vet did an in-house complete blood test and said everything was great in the blood. No high white cell, nothing.... she still said it could be cancer, but unsure. The vet did not sent the aspiration out yet. She said let keep her on antibiotics a few more week and see if the lymph nodes swelling goes away. I'm not going back to the vet until Jan 4th, but my dog seems fine. I'm a bit worried thought giving the dog antibiotics for 4 weeks (oh yet the vet upped the does to 3 per day) and the lingering concern of cancer. I'm hoping that it's just a bad infection. I did a little research and learned that fleas & ticks can cause infection where the lymph nodes swell. Over the summer, and fall my dog had fleas bad, we just could not get rid of them. Maybe the fleas caused infection? Anyway my dog is ok for not, but still has swollen nodes. Back to the vet Jan 4th.
CDC56 responded:
Bullwinkle- I'm wondering why the vet aspirated your dog but did not send the sample out to be analyzed? Also, my vet told me that X-Rays do not give enough information and they are not used in these type of cases. From what I have been told there is a great sense of urgency in determining what is causing the lymph nodes to swell, because if it is lymphoma it is a very quick spreading type of cancer that needs to be treated asap. You said your vet did mention that it could be cancer and if there is a chance that it is, the vet should not delay finding this out. My dog only has 1 swollen lymph node and the vet is "all over it." I hope that your dog just has an infection and continues to feel better but, I would check with your vet and have them send out the fluid just in case. Good luck and please post a follow up...
Fatima281 responded:
Speaking from personal experience, if it is lymphoma it is best to find out asap. My dog had swollen lymph nodes that were treated with antibiotics on the first visit to the vet. When we returned the next week, lymph nodes still swollen, he aspirated the lymph nodes and did blood work. The results were inconclusive on the aspiration and the blood work was fine. He kept talking about the possibility of it being cancer but not being very proactive. Took her to another vet in the city who gave me the bad news within 24 hours. She became very ill very quickly. I have come across many dogs over the last year who have been diagnosed with lymphoma and who are doing well on various forms of treatment. Some treatment options are very expensive some are fairly reasonable. Lymphoma in dogs cannot be cured, but I do know a couple of dogs that have gone into remission. Good luck with your Yorkie. I hope she has something that is not serious.
Kathy_Snyder_DVM_DACVIM responded:
It sounds like your vet has done a great job so far and I think they're on the right track. Blood work is often normal in dogs who have cancer--in fact, dogs who are seriously ill with completely normal bloodwork are often high cancer suspects simply BECAUSE their bloodwork is normal despite severe signs of illness. That being said, I'm not convinced your dog has cancer simply because the bloodwork is normal. Being a 3 year old Yorkie with lymph node enlargement, Lymphoma would be the most likely cancer. Most of the time lymphoma is easy to diagnose off of a simple lymph node aspirate. But once in awhile it can be confusing. So I'm pleased to hear that your vet couldn't make that diagnosis off of the sample they took--maybe that means it's something else. The other big reason for lymph nodes to be enlarged include infectious diseases (which your vet is testing AND treating for) or immune disease. These disorders can sometimes be very difficult to diagnose. So the lymph node biopsy may be exceedingly helpful in determining which of these conditions is going on, as well as making sure it's NOT cancer causing the lymph node to be too big. Based on what you've said, I think you should follow your vet's advice. The only other thing I might consider is aspirating the lymph node one more time to see if you can get more information now that it's been a little longer. If you get an answer it would be less invasive than performing the biopsy, and if you don't, you can still proceed with the biopsy. Best of luck!


William Draper, DVM, better known as "Dr. Will," is a well-known small animal practitioner in the Atlanta, GA area. He grew up in Inglewood,...More

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