What is Pulmonary Contusion?
Pulmonary contusion is also referred to as hemorrhage of the lung. Pulmonary contusion occurs when the dog’s lung is crushed or torn during a direct trauma to the chest. Pulmonary contusion will hinder the canine’s ability to breathe and to pass arterial blood to the capillaries. A pneumothorax (collapsed lung) may occur to your pet. The severity of pulmonary contusion varies, depending on the force exerted during the injury to the chest. Your pet may also have fractured ribs and other injuries not visible to you. Symptoms may be mild to life-threatening. If you suspect that your pet has pulmonary contusion, immediately take him to a veterinarian.
Pulmonary contusion is the bruising of the canine’s lung tissue. Pulmonary contusion occurs when blunt or impact trauma to the chest causes bleeding and inflammation inside one or both lungs.
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Symptoms of Pulmonary Contusion in Dogs
Your pet may have one or more of the following symptoms:
- Trouble breathing
- Rapid and shallow breathing
- Chest pain
- Coughing up blood
- Wheezing sound when your pet exhales
- Unable to stand
- Crying, whining
Causes of Pulmonary Contusion in Dogs
Trauma to the lungs may have been caused by:
- Your pet was hit by a motor vehicle
- Knife wounds
- Bitten or kicked by another animal
- Animal abuse caused by a human
- Falls from considerable heights
Diagnosis of Pulmonary Contusion in Dogs
If your pet is not mobile, using a large towel or blanket can help transport your pet into your vehicle. Try to keep movement to in minimum to avoid any further damage to your pet. Your dog may be disorientated and scared, he needs you to remain calm. Call your veterinarian, letting the team know you are on your way with an injured dog. When you arrive your veterinarian team can meet you outside with a gurney for your pet.
The veterinarian will ask you questions about your pet’s health history and the symptoms you have observed. He will ask if you know if your pet has received any recent trauma. If your pet is aggressive due to the pain of the injury, he may need to be muzzled and or sedated before the physical examination. Your veterinarian will make sure your pet is stable, he may start an IV for fluids and administer oxygen. During the physical examination the veterinarian may use a stethoscope to listen to the canine’s lungs. He will palpate your pet’s chest and abdomen, feeling for broken and evidence of air leakage from the chest to the underlying skin.
X-rays of the chest and abdomen may be taken to determine the damage. An ultrasound of your pet’s abdominal and thoracic cavities may give additional information about internal injuries. Blood work may be run to determine if there are any electrolyte changes or underlying problems with organ function. Other tests may include arterial blood gases and a computerized tomography (CT) scan.
Treatment of Pulmonary Contusion in Dogs
The physical and diagnostic tests will help evaluate the extent of lung damage; your veterinarian can then decide the course of treatment. Generally the main objectives in treating pulmonary contusion are to relieve pain, oxygenation and the removal of blood and fluid in the pulmonary cavities. If there in an accumulation of air between the chest wall and the lungs (pneumothorax); a thoracentesis will be inserted into the pleural cavity to remove the air. Antibiotics may be recommended to prevent infection in damage tissue. Your veterinarian will probably want to keep your pet overnight for observation. Pain medication will be administered in your pet’s IV. If your pet is not improving or if it is discovered that your pet is losing blood, surgery will have to be done.
In the case that the x-rays revealed broken ribs, your veterinarian will wrap bandages to stabilize the ribs. Cage rest with minimal exercise is crucial in lung healing.
Recovery of Pulmonary Contusion in Dogs
Generally there is improvement of pulmonary contusion within 48 hours but may take up to 10 days to fully recover. Make sure to contact your veterinarian if any new symptom appear, or if your pet seems to be having difficulty breathing. How quickly your pet will improve depends on the severity of the bruising. Pulmonary contusion may have long term ill effects on your pet’s respiratory function. It is important to follow your veterinarian’s instructions. Complications that may occur in dogs with pulmonary contusion may include a secondary bacterial infection, abscesses, lung lobe consolidation, and cavity lesions. It will be necessary to have follow-up visits to your veterinarian to re-examine your pet.
Pulmonary Contusion Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
our dog was running and ran into a plastic box.
he immediately started crying but stopped after we picked him up. Over the past 5 1/2 hours he has not been himself. He has slept, probably because of the injury, but has not gotten up to go to the bathroom, eat, or drink. He is breathing but shallowly perhaps because he is sleeping. He has not really gone to the point of crying often, but I just worry that he is not okay. It is too late to take him to a vet, but I worry about sleeping and not knowing how to tell if he is just sleeping or struggling.
So ... what next?
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My dog feel down the stops yesterday and she vomited shortly after. She is also breathing pretty loud when she is sleeping. We don't know if she is sick or her breathing problem is coming from falling down the steps
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