Previous lymphangiographic studies have investigated the use of computed tomography (CT) for characterizing the thoracic duct and its tributaries in dogs. However, there is limited published information on the appearance of the canine cisterna chyli using CT. The objective of this retrospective study was to describe the features of the canine cisterna chyli in pre- and post-contrast abdominal CT studies. The presence, location, shape, maximum width, size compared with the aortic diameter (Ao:cisterna chyli ratio) and mean attenuation of the cisterna chyli were recorded from archived abdominal CT scans of 30 dogs. Breed, age, sex and neutering status were also noted. A cisterna chyli was identified in 26 of the dogs (87%). In 22 cases a cisterna chyli could be reliably identified prior to intravenous contrast administration and in all 26 cases in postcontrast images. The cisterna chyli was most commonly located right dorsolateral to the abdominal aorta between L1 and L4. Shape varied on transverse images from crescent-like to globular and maximum diameters ranged from 5 to 9 mm. The Ao:cisterna chyli ratio varied between 0.29 and 0.71 (mean value—males: 0.32; females: 0.38). On pre-contrast images the mean Hounsfield units were 21.3HU (range: –3.8 to 64.25). Mild enhancement of the cisterna chyli post-contrast was observed in 24 dogs (80%). Findings supported the use of pre- and post-contrast abdominal CT as a non-invasive method for assessing qualitative and quantitative characteristics of the canine cisterna chyli.