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Lymphatic Function in Dogs and Cats

Lymphatic Function in Dogs and Cats

Herbal remedies to help support healthy lymphatic response and help to address symptoms of lymphatic disorders in dogs and cats.

The lymphatic system is a complex and vital system that supports the lymph nodes found throughout your pets body,  many aspects of immunity as well as interacts with many other body systems to support balanced health. The lymphatic system is comprised of small glands called lymph nodes, which are connected to each other by a series of vessels called lymphatics. The lymphatic system involves vital organs including the bone marrow, spleen, thymus and gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT), which is the lymphatic tissue associated with the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

The immune system is a complex army of cells found through out your pet’s body that provides a fortified defense against unwanted invaders. It is an intricate system that keeps your pet healthy and protects them against allergens, viruses, bacteria, microbes, parasites, toxins, foreign fells and cellular mutations (healthy cells which have mutated into irregular cells). The immune system is tasked with protecting EVERY cell in the animal body. With so many pet parents wondering how to best support immunity in their dogs and cats, this article will highlight its role and provide practical suggestions. 

A healthy immune system is resilient and powerful and up to the task of supporting normal, balanced function. The immune system is not intended to be suppressed or stimulated.  But even an animal with a highly developed immune system can experience dysfunction or failure. In cases of dysfunction, an animal body requires whole body systemic support. If your pet’s immune system is weakened, every bodily system is at risk for disease.

The lymphatic system is tasked with the growth, development, and deployment of lymphocytes, white blood cells that are key to the immune system. It plays a central role in building critical immune response and bolsters the animal body's ability to resist infection. It enables the body to rid itself of bacteria and viruses, filters foreign invaders and toxic cell debris from the blood, and produces lymphocytes. It also removes waste by products from cellular activity, environmental toxins, including inorganic compounds and synthetic derivatives from the body that could otherwise create toxic load and strain every body system, setting up disease susceptibility.  

The primary functions of the lymphatic system include: 

Absorb excess fluid from tissues and return it to the bloodstream

Absorb fat from the gastrointestinal tract

Transport white blood cells and certain proteins

Supporting immune system function

Interact with the immune system to produce antibodies (immunoglobulins).

The lymphatic system filters and removes debris from the tissues of the body. Cells produce proteins and waste products and lymph absorbs these products and removes them from tissue because they are unable to be absorbed due to size. 

The lymphatic system, functioning along with the circulatory system, absorbs nutrients from the small intestines. A large portion of digested fats is absorbed via the lymphatic capillaries. Fat absorbed from the small intestinal lymphatic capillaries or lacteals is termed chyle.

To further demonstrate the importance of lymphatic function, the lymph nodes filter out cellular waste products and foreign material in the lymph fluid, including potentially dangerous infectious particles like bacteria and viruses. Lymph nodes capture material received from the lymphatic vessels and provide a site for white blood cells to mount an immune response, creating an effective barrier against dangerous foreign invaders. 

Bone marrow is tasked with producing various red and white blood cells.

The spleen is an integral part of the immune system and it filters abnormal cells from the blood as well as makes and stores blood cells. 

The thymus is a very important part of the immune system, especially for developing puppies and kittens. The thymus gland is where the earliest immune cells are made, and where immune functions take place in the young animals.

GALT's main function is to provide immunologic defenses at the surface of certain areas of the body, such as the tonsil and the lining of the intestinal tract where the animal body is most commonly exposed to foreign materials and infectious agents.

The lymphatic system is located throughout many areas of the animal body and has many critical components:

Lymph nodes or glands are small round, oval or bean-shaped structures that are located at various locations throughout the body. The lymph nodes are connected to each other by a series of vessels called lymphatics, which carry lymph from place to place. Some lymph nodes lie along the surface of the body (along the neck, under the arms, in the groin, behind the knees), while others lie deep within the body (chest and abdomen).

The bone marrow lies within the central shaft of bones, primarily the long bones of the body.

The spleen is located near the stomach in the left forward part of the abdomen.

The thymus is located in the front part of the chest cavity.

The GALT is made up of lymph tissue scattered throughout the GI tract including the tonsils and intestines.

The lymphatic system is composed of a network of lymph vessels referred to as lymphatics, as well as certain organs and tissues, including the lymph nodes, bone marrow, spleen, thymus and GALT.

Lymph is a milky fluid that flows throughout the system. It contains proteins, fats and a type of white blood cell called lymphocytes. Lymph is collected from the fluid of various tissues and eventually is returned to the blood circulatory system. The lymphatic system provides another route by which fluid can flow from distant tissues back into the blood stream, one that is separate from capillaries and veins. It also carries proteins and other substances away from tissues that cannot be removed or transported directly into the blood system.

Similar to the blood circulatory system, the lymphatic system is comprised of fine channels that lie adjacent to the blood vessels. These lymphatic vessels eventually merge into a rather large vessel called the thoracic duct.

As the lymph is carried from distant parts of the body, it is collected into larger and larger vessels until the vessels all converge in the chest and deposit the lymph in the large vein (cranial vena cava) leading to the right atrium of the heart. The lymph moves through the lymphatic vessels toward the lymph nodes.

The lymph nodes lie at varying points along the course of the lymphatic chain and can form clusters in some areas of the body. Lymph nodes have a dense fibrous outer coating, called a capsule and are filled with white blood cells and spaces containing lymph fluid.

Several types of white blood cells predominate in the lymph nodes, particularly lymphocytes, plasma cells, and macrophages. The bone marrow consists of connective tissue, the cells of which form a delicate meshwork within the marrow cavity.

The marrow cavity is permeated by numerous thin-walled blood vessels. Within the spaces of this tissue, the immature and adult stages of different blood cells exist. The spleen is the largest body of lymphatic system. It is a dark red organ that is supplied with numerous blood vessels. A tough capsule of fibrous tissue covers the spleen. The splenic "pedicle" is located along one surface and serves as the entry and exit point for blood vessels.

The internal structure of the spleen consists of:

Red pulp: Areas for red blood cell storage and for the trapping of immune proteins called antigens

White pulp: Areas of special immune response cells called lymphocytes and reticuloendothelial cells

Marginal zone: An area that separates the white and red pulp and helps to filter the blood The thymus is an organ that varies in size depending on the age of the individual. It is largest in young animals and shrinks to a very small size in the adult. GALT is present throughout the gastrointestinal tract. Peyer's Patches are aggregates of lymphoid tissue found in the small intestine and are a type of GALT.

Herbal Nutrition - (listed in order of relevance and recommendation by holistic vets - human grade meets/exceeds highest safety criteria for pets)

Herbal remedies have a long history of use for the support of lymphatic function, and may effectively address many interacting body systems in dogs and cats to help support multiple systems toward whole body health; may help to boost or balance immunity as needed; may help to remove cell waste and environmental toxins from the body that can create toxic load and disease susceptibility; may help to feed healthy gland function; used adjunctively and holistically in the traditional treatment of all types of tumors, cancer and irregularities in the lymphatic system; may help to slow and limit progression of tumors and aberrant cells that cause tumors; may help promote healthy cell response; may help boost immunity and to limit inflammation, to balance the immune system and for its anti-cancerous and anti-tumorous plant actions. 

Bionic Body – (learn more) is used holistically for its adaptogenic (read, repair and restore functions) for its immune boosting and anti-inflammatory support; strongly antioxidant and free radical scavenging (disease preventing) actions; for its nutritive Vitamin C content which may help to nourish the body and strengthen and revitalize bones, eye, teeth, skin and coat; ); for its critical carotenoid content to help nourish eye and teeth health (important for eye health and eye diseases including macular degeneration plus collagen production may promote strong teeth and dental disease); adaptogens and natural phytochemicals work to stimulate collagen production, a primary building material of bones; may help prevent dental disease; for its plant actions to help strengthen bones, cartilage, joints, muscles, sheath surrounding nerves and muscles, connective tissues & blood vessels & helps to reduce joint inflammation, while activating a cartilage-protective biochemical, potentially helping to preserve healthy cartilage in aging joint; for its anti-allergen natural plant chemicals which may help to fight off allergies and infections; for its prebiotic and probiotic content to help support native gut flora and healthy digestion.

Tummy Gladiator – (read more) contains prebiotic, probiotics and digestive enzymes and more, used holistically to help support a healthy digestive tract; to help maintain native gut flora, soothe stomach upset and support proper elimination; to lend nutritional support for balanced immune health; to help address GERD, acid reflux, Leaky Gut Syndrome and ulcers; to help heal wounds and lesions in the gut; to help support lymphatic function; may help fight stomach and urinary infections, as well as general infections found in the animal body, due to its natural plant based steroid content and healthy plant chemicals which are anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, anti-fungal, antibiotic, anti-Candidal and a natural plant based steroid; may also help to block allergen occurrence by reducing histamine and mast cell response as well as related inflammation, the triggers for allergies.

Gland Candy - (learn more) contains healthy fatty Omega 3 acids used to help support healthy body weight, used in the treatment of skin conditions and to promote healthy skin and coat, to help support and tone the lymphatic system, to help balance glandular activities including the thyroid, adrenal and pituitary glands, including HPA function (Hypothalamic, Pituitary and Adrenal) including T3 and T4 production, to help support and maintain healthy thyroid function, to help soothe the thyroid and endocrine system, to help soothe joints and cartilage, to help address histamine and mast cell response related to allergies, alopecia, allergic dermatitis, moist dermatitis (hot spots), and may help stimulate tissue repair and may help provide palliative support for all types of arthritis.

Shake Ur Groove Thing  (learn more) promotes healthy bowel function, purification, gentle parasitic detoxification and body clarification; waste and toxin removal, including pesticides, environmental toxins found inside and outside the home, chemicals related to flea and tick products and drugs regimens such as NSAID’s and synthetic glucosteriods and corticosteroids; helps remove inorganic synthetic and derivative compounds from an animal’s cell walls to help reduce toxic load in the body; also used for cramping, pain, constipation, gas and bloating; helps support a correct balance of native intestinal flora and helps calms the digestive system; promotes immune balance and helps to limit inflammation, which is important in disease prevention; used holistically for anal fissures, fistulas, hemorrhoids, food allergies and hypersensitivities and as a general skin support. 





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