Low Blood Oxygen in Dogs

Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

Low Blood Oxygen in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

Low Blood Oxygen in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What is Low Blood Oxygen?

Just like people, the oxygen in the blood has to be at a certain level to sustain life in dogs. Without the proper amount of oxygen in your dog’s blood, The amount needed for the health and performance of the dog’s vital organs is more than 70mm, but in hypoxemia, the blood gas is usually lower than 60mm hemoglobin. Another way to determine hypoxemia is if the dog has an oxygen saturation level of less than 90%. Hypoxemia is a life-threatening emergency situation which will result in death if not treated right away. If your dog has symptoms of not being able to breathe, you should take him to the veterinary hospital or clinic immediately.

Low blood oxygen, or hypoxemia, is a serious condition that is described as a decreased and insufficient amount of arterial blood needed for the dog’s body systems. If hypoxemia is left untreated, even for a short period, the internal organs will start to malfunction, so immediate medical attention is needed.

Youtube Play

Low Blood Oxygen Average Cost

From 65 quotes ranging from $700 - $10,000

Average Cost

$3,000

Symptoms of Low Blood Oxygen in Dogs

If your dog is suffering from hypoxemia, you should notice right away because he will obviously be in distress and gasping for breath. There may be a blue tint to your dog’s skin as well. If your dog is alone at the time (common with outdoor dogs) and nobody notices the symptoms, it is likely to be fatal due to the permanent damage to the brain, lungs, and other vital organs from loss of oxygen. It is good to check on your outside dog often or bring him indoors if you are unable to do so. Some of the most common symptoms in hypoxemia are:

  • Shortness of breath 
  • Gagging or gasping
  • Difficult and rapid breathing
  • Excessive coughing and gagging
  • Blue or purple tint to the skin (cyanosis)
  • Fast heart rate
  • Pain when breathing
  • Frothy discharge from nose and mouth
  • Weakness
  • Refusing to exercise or walk
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Fainting
  • Collapse
  • Seizure
  • Death
arrow-up-icon

Top

Causes of Low Blood Oxygen in Dogs

The cause of hypoxemia is a lower than normal oxygen level in the blood, but there are many causes of the low oxygen levels. There are four general causes for the drop in the oxygen level, but each cause has its own reasons:

Hypoventilation

  • Neuromuscular disease
  • Cervical spinal cord disease
  • Obstruction or disease of the airway
  • Heavy sedation
  • Severe respiratory muscle fatigue

V/Q Mismatch

  • Pneumonia
  • Pulmonary edema
  • Pulmonary hemorrhage
  • Pulmonary neoplasia
  • Pulmonary embolism

Intrapulmonary Shunt

  • Lung collapse
  • Lung disease

Diffusion Impairment

  • Pulmonary fibrosis

Other

  • Injury
  • Heart disease
  • Severe anemia
arrow-up-icon

Top

Diagnosis of Low Blood Oxygen in Dogs

Since you may be at an emergency animal hospital or clinic instead of your regular veterinarian, it is important to bring information about your dog’s medical history including vaccination records, illnesses, injuries, abnormal behavior, and changes in appetite. You will also need to give the veterinarian detailed information on the symptoms you noticed and what led up to the incident. It is also a good idea to call your regular veterinarian’s office and let them know what is going on and where you are taking your dog. Be sure to give the animal hospital or clinic your veterinarian’s name and number so they can contact their office and forward any important information.

The veterinarian at the hospital will first get your dog stabilized by providing oxygen therapy and fluids before doing a physical examination. During the exam, they will be checking heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, heart rate, and oxygen saturation level.

Some blood tests will need to be done, such as complete blood count (CBC), blood gases, chemical profile, and glucose level. Other tests the veterinarian will likely perform are radiographs (x-rays) of the chest and abdomen, echocardiogram (EKG), endoscopy,  and a fine needle biopsy of any fluid in the lungs and chest cavity if necessary. If further details are needed, the veterinarian will order an MRI, CT scan, or ultrasound.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Treatment of Low Blood Oxygen in Dogs

The treatment depends on the final diagnosis, but the initial care will be oxygen therapy by mask, enclosed oxygen cage, or nasal cannula. 

IV medication (i.e. antibiotics, bronchodilators, antihistamines, diuretics, mucus thinning medication), and draining of excess fluid in the lungs or chest cavity will also be provided during oxygen therapy if needed. Your dog will be hospitalized until stable, and then can go home if the underlying cause is found and treated.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Worried about the cost of Low Blood Oxygen treatment?

Pet Insurance covers the cost of many common pet health conditions. Prepare for the unexpected by getting a quote from top pet insurance providers.

Recovery of Low Blood Oxygen in Dogs

Once your dog is home, you will need to continue to provide a comfortable place to rest and recuperate away from other animals and family members that may cause stress or anxiety. It is important to keep your dog calm and quiet during recovery. If the veterinarian sent your dog home with any medication, be sure to follow the instructions and give all of the medication even if it seems like it is not needed after a few days. Failing to finish the medication can cause the illness to return, and it may be worse than the original episode.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Low Blood Oxygen Average Cost

From 65 quotes ranging from $700 - $10,000

Average Cost

$3,000

arrow-up-icon

Top

Low Blood Oxygen Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

dog-name-icon

Olaf

dog-breed-icon

English bull dog

dog-age-icon

1 Year

thumbs-up-icon

7 found helpful

thumbs-up-icon

7 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Heat Stroke

My bull dog suffered a heat stroke. He is in 40 % oxygen they reduced it and put in in a regular cage but he was struggling to breathe. Will he make it or should I put him down ?

July 9, 2018

Olaf's Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

7 Recommendations

Without examining Olaf myself I cannot comment on his prognosis, you should speak with your Veterinarian to discuss any progress made from the supportive and symptomatic care offered. However, in severe cases euthanasia may be the best course of action, I just cannot make that recommendation without an examination. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 10, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Simon

dog-breed-icon

Maltese Poodle cross

dog-age-icon

11 Years

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

Has Symptoms

See Description

My Maltese/Poodle 11 years old has twice displayed the symptoms described in this thread the las time being just days ago. I picked him up from his groomer and as usual I checked collar is oriented correctly so his name tag displays his name and my phone number forward. The groomer always does the collar up tighter than necessary and this is resolved of course because I physicall check the collar. On this occassion I did not as I could see that the tag was correct. During a short walk with me he coughed upp several fur balls and seemed lethargic. My son then took him for a long walk after which the symptoms worsened. Overnoght he vomited 3 times and could not stand in the morning. As he has been like this once before and recovered I decided to sit it out and later that day was when I discovered the tightness of his collar. I could not get my finger under the strap. I loosened it and within 2-3 hours he was up walking but still not eating. 7-8 hours passed and I had 80% of my old back. A good nights sleep and he is now 100%. BTW it was only a week earlier that I had VBG done ith all results as expected for his age. I thought about the previous instance of these symptoms which were not as severe and I am 70% sure it was after a groomer visit. On that occasion I fixed his collar a few hour after picking him up which may explain the lesser severity. I guess the long walk with the collar tight on this last occasion probably accelerated the condition. So to get to the question. Is it posible that the tight collar caused this by lowering blood oxygen level or should I be looking into something else at the groomer like a product allergy. My email address: Geoff.Brannelly@hotmail.com

April 20, 2018

Simon's Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

1 Recommendations

It is unusual that the tight collar would cause those signs for him, including the vomiting, but since he seems to be back to normal now and has recently had labwork performed, it may be that that was the cause. It would be worth mentioning to his groomer to keep the collar looser for him, and if he displays similar signs the next time, I'd consider other causes. I hope that all goes well for him.

April 20, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

Low Blood Oxygen Average Cost

From 65 quotes ranging from $700 - $10,000

Average Cost

$3,000

Need pet insurance?
Need pet insurance?

Learn more in the Wag! app

Five starsFive starsFive starsFive starsFive stars

43k+ reviews

Install


© 2022 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.