- Type Disease
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.\n\nPrimary or 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 tumors, inflammation, surgery, etc.
- How Transferred
In some breeds, the mode of inheritance has been shown to be autosomal dominant with variable expressivity.
- What to Look for
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.\n\nSkin that is swollen due to lymphedema is susceptible to bacterial infection and delayed healing after injury, but otherwise your dog will be generally healthy.
Diagnosis is made based on physical examination and tests to rule out other causes of edema.
Mild cases of lymphedema may come and go, or persist without any adverse consequences for your dog's health. Soft compressive bandages may be required to reduce the swelling due to fluid (lymph) build-up, and antibiotics will be required in the case of infection.
- Breeding Considerations
Affected animals and their close relatives should not be bred.
- Known Breeds Affected
Labrador retriever\nEnglish (British) bulldog