Peripheral oedema is an excessive build-up of fluid in the spaces between body tissue and organs. It can appear at a single body location or throughout the body. Some dog breeds are more prone to developing oedema, including the poodle, bulldog and Labrador.
Oedema in a dog's leg has a number of possible causes: a car accident injury, an arterial obstruction, a bite or sting allergy or abnormal growth in the lymphatic tissues. Oedema is difficult to detect early on; unexplained weight gain or swelling are signs of oedema and should be checked by a veterinarian.
A vet draws fluid from the affected leg using fine-needle aspiration. This is examined microscopically. A tissue biopsy is performed to ascertain any underlying causes. Urine analysis, X-rays and electrocardiograms are typically included in testing for oedema.
The type of treatment and medication prescribed depends on the cause of the leg oedema. Draining the limb or surgery are effective in most cases. If the leg is severely swollen, amputation may be required.