What are Acute Respiratory Distress?
Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) in dogs is a serious respiratory condition. This syndrome is the failure of the respiratory system to perform properly because of the accumulation of fluid in the lungs. This leads to inflammation and is a life-threatening syndrome. This condition is also known as “shock lung”, as it is known to occur after a shock to the dog’s system, such as a traumatic injury.
Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) in dogs is a condition where the lungs suddenly become abnormally weak in progress or collapse due to a trauma to the dog’s body.
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Symptoms of Acute Respiratory Distress in Dogs
Acute respiratory distress syndrome can occur in a number of conditions and with varying symptoms, depending upon the underlying cause. Following are some general symptoms seen with ARDS:
- Difficulty breathing
- Nasal discharge
- Bluish discoloration of the skin
- Symptoms of other underlying disorder
Acute respiratory distress syndrome in dogs can be prevented to a certain extent by keeping your loved one away from harmful fumes and gases. Harmful fumes and gases that are not well-ventilated can cause acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) specifically include:
- Strong bleach
- Strong ammonia
- Pool and spa chemicals
- Strong household cleaning detergents
- Chemical sprays
Causes of Acute Respiratory Distress in Dogs
ARDS in dogs is usually caused by an underlying condition. When a traumatic injury of some sort has occurred, blood, fluids, and tissue can leak into the lungs’ alveoli and cause the lungs to suddenly collapse. Causes of acute respiratory distress syndrome include:
- The inhaling of harmful gases
- Aspirating fluid into the lungs
- Gastrointestinal content aspiration
- Infection in the lungs
- Infection in the blood
- Trauma that causes injury to the lungs
Diagnosis of Acute Respiratory Distress in Dogs
Since ARDS is sudden, you will need to take your dog to an emergency veterinarian. The veterinarian will begin treatment on the dog at once. You will be required to tell your veterinarian the dog’s history, when the symptoms began, and what could have caused it to occur.
The veterinarian, while simultaneously performing emergency treatment, will begin to diagnose what specifically caused the acute respiratory distress. He will order many different tests, such as blood and urine tests, a blood gas analysis, and serum biochemical analysis testing. The most important test of all will be the blood gas analysis, as it will give the veterinarian the precise information he needs to move forward in treatment and prognosis.
Other tests may be ordered, such as chest x-rays, echocardiogram for the heart, and other imaging methods your veterinarian deems fitting in this situation.
Treatment of Acute Respiratory Distress in Dogs
Treatment for this condition will be quite intense, as dog’s that are suffering from ARDS, or shock lung, will be in intensive care. This condition is difficult to treat in the beginning due to the severity, but once the dog becomes stabilized it becomes easier.
Oxygen is given to dogs in need during treatment for ARDS. At times, the dog may have to be sedated and put on a ventilator, depending on the severity.
Antibiotics are given to fight the bacterial or fungal infection. It is important to give the dog all of the medication prescribed. Painkillers, fluids, and possible steroids may be given as well to stabilized your dog at the beginning of his treatment, and allow him to begin healing.
The veterinarian will monitor the dog’s vital signs, such as temperature, respiratory rate, pulse, blood pressure, and any other signs that need monitoring.
Recovery of Acute Respiratory Distress in Dogs
You need to be sure you follow your veterinarian’s instructions for aftercare. You will need to keep the dog calm by allowing him to rest, keeping him contained, and keeping outside time to a minimum; letting the dog out to walk around and use the restroom and then back in again should be the extent of his movement, at least for a little while (according to your veterinarian).
Keep his nutrition up and keep him hydrated, and keep him away from heat or hot environment to help his lungs heal and to keep his breathing normal. If you see any change in behavior or symptoms do not hesitate to call your veterinarian. With your tender loving care, before you know it your loved one will be recovered in no time.