Pulmonary Hypertension In Dogs: Symptoms, Causes, & Treatments

English Bulldog (Canis lupus familiaris) resting

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Pulmonary hypertension in dogs occurs when there is higher than normal blood pressure in the arteries and capillaries of the lungs. This can happen because dogs’¬†arteries have narrowed, become obstructed, or receive too much blood flow. Pulmonary hypertension can cause parts of the heart to become enlarged or function abnormally, which results in less oxygenated blood being pumped through dogs’ bodies. Symptoms of this condition may include difficulty breathing, bluish skin, and exercise intolerance. Eventually, blood may start to pool in the body, and dogs may suffer from congestive heart failure. If you see the signs of pulmonary hypertension in your dog, consult a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment. Here’s what you should know about the symptoms, causes, and treatments for hypertension in dogs.

Symptoms Of Pulmonary Hypertension In Dogs

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The symptoms of pulmonary hypertension in dogs arise when the blood does not deliver enough oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. If the condition goes untreated, it can be fatal. Here are a few signs that a dog might be suffering from pulmonary hypertension.

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Coughing
  • Spitting up blood
  • Bluish or purplish skin
  • Enlarged abdomen
  • Distended veins in the neck
  • Heart murmur
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Fainting
  • Sudden death

Causes Of Pulmonary Hypertension In Dogs

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There are several possible causes of pulmonary hypertension in dogs. Conditions that affect the lungs, heart, or blood can all lead to pulmonary hypertension. It is important to get a veterinary diagnosis so that the underlying cause can be treated. Here are a few possible causes of pulmonary hypertension in dogs.

  • Blood vessel obstruction
  • Pneumonia
  • Bronchitis
  • Cancer
  • Adult respiratory distress syndrome
  • Adrenal gland problems
  • Kidney disease
  • Pancreatic inflammation
  • Immune-mediated diseases
  • Heart disease
  • Heartworm
  • Infections
  • Obesity
  • Living at high altitudes

Treatments For Pulmonary Hypertension In Dogs

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Treatment for pulmonary hypertension in dogs depends on the severity of the condition and the underlying causes. If a dog is having severe breathing difficulties, they may be hospitalized and given oxygen therapy, as well as medication to make breathing passages dilate to allow more air to pass through. Other medications may help remove fluid from the lungs or treat congestive heart failure.

Once symptoms are under control, care should continue at home. This includes keeping dogs in a stress-free environment and reducing physical pressure. Dogs with pulmonary hypertension should avoid extreme cold or heat, dry hair, secondhand smoke, and high altitudes. Physical activity might need to be restricted, and a low sodium diet may be prescribed.

If there are underlying causes of pulmonary hypertension that have been identified, those may need to be treated, as well. Treatment for infections may include antibiotics or other medications, diseases of the kidneys, heart, adrenal glands, and immune system will require strict monitoring and care, and heartworm and some forms of cancer may need surgical treatment.

Dogs with pulmonary hypertension will need follow-up veterinary examinations to monitor blood pressure and make sure the heart is functioning properly. Damage to the heart or lungs may be irreversible, and treatment may focus more on making dogs comfortable than curing the condition.

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