Clinically affected dogs are usually large-breed dogs such as the Rottweiler and Norwegian Lundehund. In the Lundehund, a higher incidence of gastric carcinoma and gastritis is associated with this disease.
Symptoms which are commonly observed include chronic weight loss, intermittent anorexia, vomiting and diarrhea. Other promodromal signs include dehydration, ascites and pain on palpation of the abdomen.
Hematological examination may reveal characteristic hypoalbuminemia, hyperglobulinemia, lymphopenia, hypocalcemia, and hypercholesterolemia. Postprandial bile acids values should be evaluated to eliminate possible hepatic causes of gastrointestinal disease.
Radiography is usually unrewarding, but endoscopy may show peritoneal effusion, thickening of intestinal loops as well as corrugations, irregular small intestinal masses and hyperechoic mucosal striations.
Intestinal biopsies are usually recommended, often obtained during an exploratory laparotomy in order to histologically examine samples for a definitive diagnosis. Histologically, the characteristic feature of this disease is markedly dilated lymph vessels in the intestinal villi of the intestine.
A differential diagnosis would include other causes of inflammatory bowel disease, intestinal lymphoma, gastrointestinal stromal tumor, gastrointestinal parasites such as Giardia spp and yeast infections with Cyniclomyces guttulatus.
A dietary change to reduce long-chain triglycerides in the diet is thought to reduce loss of lymph to the gastrointestinal lumen through reduced chylomicron formation. There is some evidence that long-chain triglycerides may be proinflammatory, which could also stimulate the loss of lymph from inflamed lacteals. It has been reported that reducing the presence of long-chain triglycerides in the diet can decrease lymph flow ten-fold in the mesentery.
With correct treatment, many dogs respond and clinical symptoms resolve. Long-term prednisolone may be required to maintain good quality of life and abeyance of clinical disease.
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