Skin that is swollen due to lymphedema is susceptible to
bacterial infection and delayed healing after injury, it is important
that any break in the skin receives prompt and appropriate first aid
treatment. Antibiotics could be necessary for and to prevent secondary
infections, otherwise your dog will be generally healthy.
Warm water massage can help because the lymph system
has no inner pump mechanism like the heart does. Lymph
flow is stimulated specifically through muscle action that "pushes" the
fluid through the lymphatics, and compression bandaging can help in
minimizing the symptoms.
Flavonoids which are water soluble versus oil soluble as the
carotenes are, have demonstrated antioxidant properties and as such may
assist the body in eliminating radical free agents thus helping the
lymph system. Interestingly these substances were discovered by the
same person who discovered vitamin C, Nobel laureate Albert
You can read about an experimental surgery at this
unbelievably long link that follows. http://www.springerlink.com/content/lj8620212012h3w8/
Lymph is a clear
watery fluid that is collected from tissues throughout the body and
returned to the blood by way of the lymphatic vessels, as part of
normal circulation. In lymphedema there is abnormal lymph flow, so that
lymph fluids accumulate and cause swelling in the affected tissue.
inherited lymphedema is caused by abnormal development of the lymph
vessels or nodes and has been reported in the breeds listed below.
Secondary lymphedema can occur in any breed if there is obstruction of
lymph vessels due to tumours, inflammation, surgery, etc.
is lymphedema inherited?
In some breeds,
the mode of inheritance has been shown to be autosomal dominant with
breeds are affected by lymphedema?
lymphedema has been reported in the Belgian Tervuren, borzoi, English
bulldog, German shepherd, German short-haired pointer, Great Dane,
Labrador retriever, old English sheepdog, poodle and rottweiler.
For many breeds
and many disorders, the studies to determine the mode of inheritance or
the frequency in the breed have not been carried out, or are
inconclusive. We have listed breeds for which there is a consensus
among those investigating in this field and among veterinary
practitioners, that the condition is significant in this breed.
does lymphedema mean to your dog & you?
The hind legs
are most commonly affected, although front legs, abdomen, tail and ears
can be affected too. The skin looks normal but has a thickened spongy
feel, and if you press it, your fingers will leave dents.
Skin that is
swollen due to lymphedema is susceptible to bacterial infection and
delayed healing after injury, but otherwise your dog will be generally
is lymphedema diagnosed?
made based on physical examination, laboratory tests to rule out other
causes of edema, and a skin biopsy. This is a simple procedure done
with local anesthetic, in which your veterinarian removes a small
sample of your dog's skin for examination by a veterinary pathologist.
The biopsy will show changes in the skin consistent with this
condition. Your veterinarian may also recommend lymphangiography - the
process of x-raying the lymph vessels after injecting dye, in order to
identify any abnormalities.
the veterinarian: Rule out other causes
of obstructive, inflammatory, and hypoproteinemic edema.
is lymphedema treated?
Mild cases of
lymphedema may come and go, or persist without any adverse consequences
for your dog's health. More serious cases may require bandaging to
reduce the swelling due to fluid (lymph) build-up, or reconstructive
and their close relatives should not be bred.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THIS
DISORDER, PLEASE SEE YOUR VETERINARIAN.
Copyright © 1998 Canine Inherited
Disorders Database. All rights reserved.
This database is funded jointly by the
Sir James Dunn Animal Welfare Centre at the Atlantic Veterinary
College, University of Prince Edward Island, and the Canadian
Veterinary Medical Association.
Permission to reprint is
Alice Crook, DVM Coordinator, Sir James Dunn Animal Welfare Centre
Atlantic Veterinary College University of Prince Edward Island