Lymph Nodes in Dogs

Lymph Nodes are small glands that are found in various places in the dog’s body. In their normal state, they range from the size of a grape or bean, depending on a dog’s size. Lymph nodes are not easy to find or feel unless they swell up and become enlarged. The glands usually swell up due to infection or disease in the area of the nodes. Being aware of the potential reasons for swollen lymph nodes and their symptoms can help you monitor the health of your pooch. While swollen lymph nodes usually don’t require treatment, the underlying condition that causes the inflammation may be serious and needs to be checked by a vet.

In this article, we will dig deep into what swollen lymph nodes look like, their possible causes and their treatments.

Where are dog lymph nodes?

Lymph Nodes can be found particularly in the neck, armpits and groin areas.

Dogs have more than 50 lymph nodes which are very important for their lymphatic system and overall health. Just like humans, they play an important role in defending against bacteria, infections and diseases.

Where Are Dog Lymph Nodes Located?

Dogs have five kinds of lymph nodes located throughout their body:

  • Axillary Lymph Nodes: Located in the armpits
  • Inguinal Lymph Nodes: Located in the groin
  • Popliteal Lymph Nodes: Located in the back of the knees
  • Prescapular Lymph Nodes: Located in the front of the shoulder blades
  • Submandibular Lymph Nodes: Located below the jaw, near the neck

What do swollen lymph nodes look like?

When swollen, lymph nodes may look like small masses under the dog’s skin. They are generally accompanied by pain, warmth and redness. The exact size of the swollen lymph nodes generally depends on their underlying cause.

What causes swollen lymph nodes?

Lymph nodes aid in transporting white blood cells and infection-fighting lymph fluid throughout the body. They swell up when lymph fluid and white blood cells accumulate in them to eliminate toxins and infections.

Swollen lymph nodes can be caused due to various factors which can be minor or even serious. Let’s look at the possible reasons that lead to swollen lymph nodes.

  • Cancer: One of the most common reasons for swollen lymph nodes is a type of cancer known as lymphoma. It involves white blood cells and can be harmful to multiple parts of a dog’s body.
  • Allergies: Lymph nodes can get inflamed and enlarged due to allergic reactions like food and skin allergies. To reduce allergic reactions and control swelling on lymph nodes, you can use Eco-Vet Eco-Allergy Liquid, Homeo Pet Skin and Itch Relief and Apoquel.
  • Lymphadenitis: It can occur due to an infection that has led to chronic inflammation. Systemic bacterial, viral and fungal infections can cause this type of swelling of lymph nodes.
  • Parasites: Lymph nodes can get enlarged while fighting off infestations from parasites like fleas, ticks and heartworms. Products like NexGard, Bravecto, Frontline Plus, Heartgard and Simparica Trio can keep your pooch safe from such parasites and reduce the chances of swollen lymph nodes.

What to do if your dog has swollen lymph nodes?

If you notice that your dog has swollen lymph nodes, get in touch with a vet at your earliest opportunity. Your vet will perform examinations to find out the underlying condition that has caused the enlargement and offer the necessary treatment to cure it.

How to treat swollen lymph nodes?

Treatment for swollen lymph nodes entirely depends on its underlying cause. Medications such as steroids, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, anti-parasites and chemotherapy will be recommended depending on the cause of the lymph node inflammation. Vets can also advise surgery or radiation for low-grade and localized lymphomas.


As a pet parent, you should try your best to maintain the health of your pet through exercise, proper nutrition and veterinary attention so as to reduce the likeliness of infections and illnesses that may lead to swollen lymph nodes.