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Bronchoalveolar lavage fluid lymphocytosis in 104 dogs (2006‐2016)



Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid cytology and culture are used to characterize respiratory diseases in dogs. Little is known about disorders associated with increased numbers of lymphocytes in BAL fluid.


To evaluate duration of clinical signs and detection of specific respiratory diagnoses in dogs with BAL lymphocytosis.


One-hundred four client-owned dogs evaluated for respiratory signs.


Medical records of dogs that had >300 cells/μL and >20% lymphocytes on a differential cell count of BAL fluid between January 1, 2006, and January 1, 2016, were reviewed retrospectively. Cases were evaluated for the duration of clinical signs and respiratory diagnoses, including aspiration injury, infectious or inflammatory respiratory disease, and airway collapse.


Dogs ranged in age from 0.5 to 16 years (median, 7.9 years) and had a median body weight of 11.4 kg (range, 2.0-42.7 kg). Eosinophilic lung disease was documented in 13 of 104 dogs (Group 1) and airway neutrophilia associated with infectious or inflammatory disease was found in 59 of 104 dogs (Group 2). Lymphocytosis alone in BAL fluid was described in 32 dogs (Group 3). Duration of cough did not differ among groups, but airway collapse was significantly more common in dogs with solitary lymphocytosis than in those with other types of inflammation.

Conclusions and clinical importance

Lymphocytosis in BAL fluid is common in dogs and, in many cases, likely represents a common response to airway injury, independent of the type or duration of insult. It is unknown whether airway collapse leads to lymphocytosis or if the inflammatory process causes airway collapse.

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