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What Causes Swollen Lymph Nodes?

My dog tore his toe nail last week. They found a swollen lymph node behind the knee of the torn toe nail. I read in...

Dr. Eric Barchas  |  Jun 12th 2010


My dog tore his toe nail last week. They found a swollen lymph node behind the knee of the torn toe nail. I read in one of your articles that this could be the cause. I have not felt any other swollen nodes and he is full of energy, he eats good, poops good, and is playful. Snow Pea is 10. My vet would like to do a biopsy but I don’t want to put my dog through it at this stage. He had rectal cancer in March of 2008 in which the tumor was removed and it was insitu and did not spead to the lymphnodes at that time. What do you think? I am hoping with all my heart the the swollen node is because of his torn toe nail. He is on amoxcicillin for 15 days.

Thanks,

Elizabeth

I recommend that you allow the nail to heal before sampling the lymph node.

Lymph nodes are part of the immune system. Anything that stimulates the immune system can cause the closest lymph node to become active. This will make it prominent and enlarged.

Infection, inflammation, and cancer are the most common causes of enlarged lymph nodes. Of course, that last cause is a scary one. However, your dog has a torn nail near the enlarged lymph node. The nail is probably infected. It stands to reason that the infection is what caused the node to swell.

The lymph node should be sampled if it remains enlarged after the nail has healed. I’ll bet that won’t be necessary. I think this is a pretty clear cut case of cause and effect.