Dog Lymph Node Location Chart

idea tipDid you know? Sometimes lymph nodes get so enlarged they cause problems. For instance swollen lymph nodes by a dog’s groin area (inguinal)may cause trouble defecating, whereas, several enlarged glands by the neck area can make it difficult for the dog to swallow, eat or breath.

Often dogs have other accompanying symptoms other than the enlarged lymph nodes. For example, if a dog has an infection in a back paw, he might be limping on top of having the lymph nodes further up the leg inflamed. However, limping may, yes, occur because the foot is sore, but also because the enlarged lymph nodes may be painful, explains veterinarian Race Foster. Also, in the presence of an infection, the dog may have a fever. Fortunately, once the infection is treated, the enlarged lymph nodes should return to their normal size.

Reactive lymphoid hyperplasia takes place when a lymph node becomes “reactive” due to inflammation or infection present somewhere in the dog’s body. In this case, the lymph nodes enlarge because they become “reactive”upon encountering a stimulus such as bacteria or viruses and start producing an excessive amount of white blood cells. The swelling is therefore often due to the proliferation of lymphocytes and plasma cells.

Dogs have several lymph nodes in their bodies and the most commonly enlarged are the ones found where the lower jaw joins the neck (submandibular) in the front area of the chest (prescapular), behind the armpit area (axillary), by the groin area (inguinal) and at the back of the leg (popliteal).

Dogs, just like us, have several lymph nodes in their bodies which are meant to help fight infections. When a dog’s lymph nodes swell, this is often a sign of the body doing its job in trying to get rid of inflammation or an infection. The term ‘lymphadenopathy’ is used to refer to enlarged lymph nodes. When the enlargement is due to an underlying infection affecting the lymph node, the condition is medically known as lymphadenitis. Any time a dog presents with swollen lymph nodes, it’s important to see a vet sooner than later so to help the dog combat the infection, but also because often swollen lymph nodes may be indicative of lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system.

How do you palpate a lymph node?

In general, palpating involves running your hands along a particular area of the body in order to detect any deviation or swelling that wasn’t there before. You’ve probably already done this to your furry friend if you practice my tip-to-tail dog wellness scan.

Gently running your hands over your dog’s fur and skin while petting him or her can be a great way to look for things like insect bites, hives, cysts, and other skin lesions. Looking for swollen lymph nodes is really not all that different. It just means you need to feel specific places where lymph nodes are located. Sometimes it helps to gently grasp the deeper tissues in the region with your thumb and forefinger and feel for a round to oval structure.

Bright spots were seen in the area in which the surgery took place (black arrow). Locations of lymph nodes are marked (white arrows). Lymphangiograms from the same dogs from lateral (left) and antero-posterior (right) views showing capillary-like network (black arrows) and bypassed lymph nodes (white arrows) (middle). Diagrams show changes of lymphatic pathways (bottom).


What does a swollen lymph node on a dog feel like?

Lymph nodes are not easily found in dogs and cats if they are normal in size. However, enlarged or swollen lymph nodes are often easily found, and feel like firm, oval or round swellings under the skin.

What can cause swollen lymph nodes in dogs?

Lymph node locations you can feel
  • Submandibular lymph nodes—located on either side of the lower jaw where it meets the neck.
  • Prescapular lymph nodes (i.e. superficial cervical lymph nodes)—found in front of the shoulder blade where the neck and shoulder meet.
  • Axillary lymph nodes—in the armpit.

How big should a dogs lymph nodes feel?

There are several possible infectious causes of enlarged lymph nodes, including but not limited to: bacterial, tick-borne, fungal, and parasitic. Many dogs who have one of these infections will also have other symptoms such as fever, lethargy, or diarrhea.