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Symptoms of Swollen Inguinal Lymph Nodes in Dogs

Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, former veterinary assistant, and author of the online dog training course "Brain Training for Dogs."

Take your dog to the vet if they are experiencing trouble defecating, nausea, and general malaise.

Take your dog to the vet if they are experiencing trouble defecating, nausea, and general malaise.

What Causes Swollen Inguinal Lymph Glands in Dogs?

Your dog's lymph glands are basically small tissue masses found in various areas of your dog's body. These glands serve several functions such as filtering the blood, storing white blood cells, and various other roles related to the immune system. When your dog's lymph glands inflame and swell, this is often due to an infection, auto-immune response, or malignancy.

Just as you would have an abnormal lump in a breast checked out, a dog with an inflamed lymph node requires prompt testing to rule out any malignancies and determine the underlying causes. The causes can be several, some may not be as serious as cancer, but they all do warrant prompt attention. Following are several potential causes:

  • Inflamed tissues. In this case, the regional lymph glands swell because white blood cells increase to fight a potentially infectious agent. The infection may be localized in the lymph nodes themselves or nearby tissues and may be fungal, viral, or bacterial in nature.
  • An allergic reaction or an immune response taking place in the body and causing an increase in the number of cells.
  • Cancer. Cancerous cells may collect in the lymph node due to local malignancy or metastasis, the spread of cancer from another distant location of the body.
Dog inguinal lump

Dog inguinal lump

Symptoms of Swollen Inguinal Glands in Dogs

The following are symptoms of swollen inguinal glands in dogs:

  • Swollen glands. Generally, dog owners will notice the inguinal swelling or feel it by touch by palpating the groin area. Normally, lymph nodes are barely able to be felt and are pea-sized. However, when they swell, they can become up to the size of a golf ball. In the inguinal area, a swollen gland may not be readily felt at times because it may be surrounded by fat. In female dogs, a swollen mammary gland may be confused for a swollen inguinal lymph node.
  • Defecation may be difficult. Due to the swelling in the groin area defecating may be difficult for your dog.
  • Nausea and loss of appetite. Your dog may drool due to nausea and refuse to eat. Or he may eat and then regurgitate the food.
  • General malaise or lethargy. This can be due to the body attempting to fight the infection.

If your dog has any of these symptoms, please see your vet promptly. Your vet will likely run blood work, do a needle aspirate, request X-rays or run other tests. Treatment will vary depending on the underlying cause. If there is an infection, your dog may need antibiotics. If the problem is an auto-immune disorder, corticosteroids may be prescribed. In the case of a fungal infection, antifungal medications will be prescribed. In the case of allergies, antihistamines or steroids may be needed. Surgery or chemotherapy are some options for cancer.

Please note that there are also other conditions causing similar symptoms. A dog that is straining and vomiting and with a swollen abdomen may be due to a dog intestinal blockage. Other causes of lumps, for instance, are lipomas, hematomas, and even bug bites. So please see a vet to assess and determine what may be really going on.

How to Find and Feel Dog Lymph Nodes

Further Reading

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.


Adrienne Farricelli (author) on October 28, 2012:

Thanks for stopping by Wetnosedogs! Yes, the dog in the video is a great demo dog for seeing where those dog lymph glands are!

wetnosedogs from Alabama on October 24, 2012:

Thank you for writing this. It is something we all need to know. Love the dog in the video, a great helper.

Linda Crist from Central Virginia on October 24, 2012:

This is wonderful advice for those of us who love our pets. There is never enough knowledge to be had if it keeps them healthy and safe. Great job.