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What are Fluid in the Lungs?

Pulmonary edema may develop over time and show as a breathing difficulty for your pet only upon exertion. Or rapid accumulation of fluid in the lungs may occur, causing acute respiratory distress. If the alveoli become filled with fluid instead of air, your dog will have reduced breathing capabilities due to low oxygen intake and limited carbon monoxide output. If you sense that your dog is having breathing difficulties, bring him to the veterinarian without delay.

Fluid in the lungs in dogs is also known as pulmonary edema. An abnormal amount of fluid accumulates in the alveoli (air sacs within the lungs where the exchange of carbon monoxide and oxygen take place) and the interstitium (blood vessels and cells that support the alveoli).

Fluid in the Lungs Average Cost

From 135 quotes ranging from $1,200 - $8,000

Average Cost

$5,000

Symptoms of Fluid in the Lungs in Dogs

Depending upon the reason for the fluid accumulation and the length of time that the breathing difficulty has been developing, symptoms may vary. If your dog is exhibiting any of these symptoms, see the veterinarian immediately:

  • Coughing
  • Weakness
  • Crackling noises when breathing
  • Rapid intake of air upon exertion
  • Showing an effort when breathing
  • Blue tongue or lips (cyanosis)
  • Collapse
Types

Pulmonary edema can be broken down into two types:

Cardiogenic Pulmonary Edema

  • Secondary to left sided congestive heart failure
  • Sodium and water retention increase the circulatory volume and venous pressure leading to fluid build-up
  • A history of heart trouble (known or unknown) may be present

Noncardiogenic Pulmonary Edema

  • Accumulated fluid has a higher concentration of protein, and the capillary pressure is normal
  • The trigger for a noncardiogenic event will be trauma, for example.
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Causes of Fluid in the Lungs in Dogs

The causes for fluid accumulation in dogs can be numerous.

Cardiogenic Pulmonary Edema

  • High sodium diet
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy (enlarged heart)
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (thickening of walls of the heart)
  • Mitral valve regurgitation (heart valve does not close properly, allowing blood to flow back into the heart)

Noncardiogenic Pulmonary Edema

  • Electrocution
  • Trauma to the head
  • Secondary disease such as cancer
  • Drowning
  • Smoke inhalation
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Diagnosis of Fluid in the Lungs in Dogs

The veterinarian may choose to begin with a diagnosis of exclusion to rule out possibilities such as an obstruction, heartworm, or pneumonia. Your pet’s weight will be verified. (Note that cardiac disease presents with a very underweight pet.) Upon verification, it may be found that your dog may have a fast heart rate and a weak pulse.

The test of choice to diagnose fluid in the lungs is a thoracic x-ray. If your dog has cardiogenic pulmonary edema, your doctor will find an enlarged heart, distended pulmonary veins, and fluid in the alveoli.

A chest x-ray that shows fluid throughout the lungs, and without an enlarged heart points to a noncardiogenic diagnosis. The echocardiogram will also be normal.

Measurement of protein in the fluid (possible only through intubation, or if your dog is coughing up fluid) can lead to diagnosis also. Cardiogenic pulmonary edema will show low levels of protein, while noncardiogenic presents with high protein levels in the fluid.

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Treatment of Fluid in the Lungs in Dogs

Treatment will depend on the reason for the fluid, but in any case the first step will be to stabilize your dog. Oxygen therapy may be started, along with antibiotics to prevent pneumonia.

Cardiogenic Pulmonary Edema

In this case oxygen, rest and diuretics (to hasten the removal of fluid) will be used. Also, vasodilators (to widen blood cells) are necessary. The veterinarian will carefully monitor your pet’s blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate during the hospitalization period. Repeat x-rays may be ordered by the veterinarian in order to observe the lung fluid levels. Heart disease is a chronic problem, so it is possible the edema may return.

Noncardiogenic Pulmonary Edema

Controlling the causative factor is an important part of the treatment protocol in this instance. Depending on the cause and severity, your dog can improve rapidly with oxygen therapy. Antibiotics, intravenous fluids and colloids, diuretics, and anti-inflammatories will be administered as needed, depending on the edema cause. Again, blood pressure, respiratory rate, body temperature, and oxygen saturation will regularly be checked during treatment.

In both cases, your dog will benefit from the least amount of stress possible during hospitalization.

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Recovery of Fluid in the Lungs in Dogs

It is very important to distinguish which type of pulmonary edema is affecting your dog in order to determine the appropriate follow-up.

In the case of cardiogenic pulmonary edema, a low sodium diet along with medication to repair and strengthen the heart will be required. Noncardiogenic follow up is less specific, and depends on the origin of the problem. Successful treatment of the underlying disease or trauma is key to recovery.

In both cases, follow-up visits with the veterinarian will be vital for the continued health of your pet. The veterinarian will want to repeat diagnostic tests as necessary (such as x-ray to verify fluid levels) and prescribe any medications needed to hasten recovery. As the owner of a dog who has experienced pulmonary edema, you should always be aware of your pet’s breathing patterns and promptly visit the clinic to discuss irregularities.

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Fluid in the Lungs Average Cost

From 135 quotes ranging from $1,200 - $8,000

Average Cost

$5,000

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Fluid in the Lungs Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Shih Tzu

dog-age-icon

Ten Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Pneumonia/Fluid In Right Lung

My dog, Emily just had spinal cord surgery and now she's battling, respiratory issues. My husband and I was informed if we don't act fast by being aggressive with treatment, it was recommended to euthanized because her right lung is gone. Also, she in a oxygen cage to help with breathing.

Aug. 7, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question, I am sorry that Emily is having these problems. It seems that it would be best to follow the advice of the veterinarians taking care of her, as they seem to be doing a good job and will likely know what needs to be done for her. If you do have to make the decision to let her go, I am very sorry.

Aug. 8, 2020

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Bulldogs

dog-age-icon

Nine Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Breathing Difficulties

She’s been on it for a a week and getting worse with breathing and trying to cough, her ear and dripping so bad she can’t shake her head. My vet said she had fluid in or on lung and heat Disease

Aug. 2, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. If she is in heart failure and has fluid around her lungs and heart, she may need more medication if she is not getting better. The medication that she's on should have helped by now if it's been a week, and it would be best to have her seen by her Veterinarian again so that they can reassess her and see what else you might need. I hope that she is okay.

Aug. 2, 2020

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Pit Bull

dog-age-icon

Three months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Labored Breathing

She was sleeping on the floor in front of the couch where I was laying. When I went to get up, i didn't know she was right there beneath me. When I stepped down I startled her awake and in the confusion she ran under my feet and knocked me off balance. When I fell on her I did not hear anything snap but she started coughing up bright red blood and now her breathing is very labored. It's 3am now and the vet does not open till 8am. Please help me with any advice you can.

July 24, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

I'm sorry that happened to her. If she coughed up blood after the trauma, she may need emergency care. There are no home remedies for that kind of trauma, unfortunately, and the best thing to do would be to have her seen by a veterinarian right away. All veterinary clinics have a number on their answering machine for emergency or after hours information. I hope that she is okay.

July 24, 2020

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Labrador Retriever

dog-age-icon

3 days old

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Noisy Breathing

Have been bottle feeding her as her mum doesn’t have any milk. It has been sounding wheezy after being left alone while sleeping then when she’s moving around it goes back to normal

July 20, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Gina U. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello Has your puppy been checked for a cleft palate? If she has one, that can cause aspiration. Or perhaps her suckle reflex is poor? If she is wheezing, I recommend that you take her to a veterinarian for an exam and chest x-rays. They may want to check to make sure she does not have pneumonia. Good luck.

July 20, 2020

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dog-breed-icon

Labrador Retriever

dog-age-icon

3 days old

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Noisy Breathing

Have been bottle feeding her as her mum doesn’t have any milk. It has been sounding wheezy after being left alone while sleeping then when she’s moving around it goes back to normal

July 20, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Gina U. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Hello Has your puppy been checked for a cleft palate? If she has one, that can cause aspiration. Or perhaps her suckle reflex is poor? If she is wheezing, I recommend that you take her to a veterinarian for an exam and chest x-rays. They may want to check to make sure she does not have pneumonia. Good luck.

July 20, 2020

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Scout

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Cocker Spaniel

dog-age-icon

11 Months

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Critical severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Drooling
Fluid In Lungs
Wheezing

On Tuesday, I took my 11 1/2 month old cocker spaniel to Pet Supplies Plus to get groomed. The groomer called 1.5 hours later to let me know he was ready but she wasn't able to clip his nails because he got worked up. When I picked him up, he seemed scared. I assumed it was because he was scared and wanted to leave due to the situation with the nail clipping attempt. As I was driving home, I had to pull over to check on him because he seemed unusual. He was breathing abnormally and not responding to my attempts to get him excited with phrases we use. When I took him home I knew something wasn't right. He was drooling, had a slight wheeze, and a moanlike noise coming from him. I took him to the vet and he was eventually diagnosed with noncardiogenic pulmonary edema. After 14 hours of treatment (oxygen therapy, antibiotics - intial diagnoses of pneumonia, and nebulizer) the vet called to say they didn't think he would make it another 1-2 hours. The vet informed me that his oxygen levels went from 92 the night before when I dropped him off to 76 the next morning and suggested going to a specialist. At one point his respiratory rate went to 120. Therefore, we took our baby to Purdue and they put him on a ventilator by 1 pm. Around 3:30 am the next day he took a turn for the worse and they had to physically elevate him to help with drainage that included blood. They called me at 5 am that there isn't much they can do since he hasn't shown any sign of improvement with all the treatment. Therefore, when we arrived at Purdue we said our goodbyes and allowed then to euthanize. Background: He has vomited small amounts of mostly clear phlem a week prior and the morning of his grooming appointment. Other then that he was a HAPPY, LOVING, HEALTHY puppy. We are extremely heartbroken and can't believe this happened. All the vets we encountered said the trachea/bronchial area can easily get damaged and result in noncardiogenic pulmonary edema. Is it possible he was injured at the groomer during the "2-3 seconds" she tried to clip his nails for the lungs to fill up that quickly? She said he panted afterwards, calmed down, and then she gave him a bath. Or could this have been something in the works for a time?

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Hamish

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Maltipoo

dog-age-icon

11 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Gagging
Sneezing
Coughing
Wheezing

Hi, My dog is a Maltese terrior x poodle and he was experiencing a lot of wheezing and coughing to the point where he was gasping for air. Took him to the vet and they said his left side is a bit congested. The vet put him on antibiotics and cortisone. Whilst on the antibiotics the symptoms drastically went away but once the course of antibiotics finished his coughing started to return (nowhere near as bad as previously but still not 100%). We took him back to the vet and they did chest X-rays and said he may have chronic bronchitis as there was still congestion in the lungs with possible lung scarring. So she put us on a different antibiotic (doxycycline) and continued the microlone for a month. I showed a different vet the xrays and he said he has an enlarged heart/congestive heart failure on both sides hence the lung congestion and to add lasix to his medication. The 1st vet did not mention hamish’s heart when showing me the X-ray and she said he actually had a strong heart when listening to it with her stethoscope. Just wondering if the 2nd vet is more on the right track? And what’s the best thing to do from now on?

dog-name-icon

mumf

dog-breed-icon

Chihuahua

dog-age-icon

7 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Sneezing
Hacking
Weezing
Crackling
Increased Water Drinking
Light Red Tounge
Elivated Liver Enzymes

I have a 7 year old Chihuahua. He always sounds like "he is full of muccus or fluid". It gets worse at night and when he is laying in certain posistions but for the most part its contentious. He sneezes and backwards sneezes several times a day. He makes crackling noises on occatsion to almost clear the fluid. His tounge to me also looks a bit dull in color. My vet took a listen with to his heart and breathing said he sounds fine. He is currently on Ursodile for elivated liver values and hypatio support for liver as well. Im at a loss as two vets have done minimal tests besides a listen and a look over and say he is fine. However, the WORST of the weezing/snoring/backwards sneezing comes at night. help?

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Anita

dog-breed-icon

Chihuahua

dog-age-icon

14 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

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2 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargic, Not Eating Or Drinkin

I had a 14 year old Chihuahua who passed two days ago. She was diagnosed a year ago with Con genitive heart failure. She was on Furosemide, Vetmedin and Enalapril. She was doing fine until last week. She would drink water but not eat. She was using the bathroom okay. I took her to the vet and they told me the heart med she was on originally affected her liver. They said the liver was extremely enlarged. They gave me an alternative heart med,antibiotic and told me to give her soft dog food and crush her meds into a syringe to get her to eat. After the first two days she acted better and started eating on her own. Then, on the third day it was back to giving her food in the syringe because she would not eat. She would lay there just staring and when she tried to get up her legs would collapse. The vet said she was in the final stages. She slept most of the day and later that night I could tell she was having a hard time breathing. I held her in my arms until she passed. My question is was there something more that could have been done? I feel guilty because I keep thinking what if they could have saved her somehow? I did not want to have her put down. I wanted her to pass in her own home and bed surrounded by her family. Was there something else I could have done at that point?

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No 3

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Shitzu x bichon freis = zuchon

dog-age-icon

9 Days

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Cracking
Crackling Breath

I have a 9 day old zuchon puppy,1 of 4,no issues with birthing.1 puppy which is slightly smaller than the others has over last day, displayed crackling noises when feeding.this seems to subside when pups asleep.I have pups and mum in my bedroom.I have over the last week had a chest infection.Could this by chance pass to my puppy,as all was well and I'm worried for the little fella.feisty.no issue with movement.just has developed this crackling breathing when feeding.

Fluid in the Lungs Average Cost

From 135 quotes ranging from $1,200 - $8,000

Average Cost

$5,000

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