Pulmonary Edema (Fluid In Lungs) In Dogs: Symptoms, Causes, & Treatments

UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 09: Border Terrier dog lying down puffed out and panting with tongue after chasing around, United Kingdom (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)

(Picture Credit: Tim Graham/Getty Images)

Pulmonary edema in dogs is a buildup of fluid in the lungs that can result in difficulty breathing and poor oxygen circulation throughout the body. It can be cardiogenic, meaning it results from heart failure, or non-cardiogenic, meaning caused by conditions outside of the heart. Both forms of pulmonary edema in dogs result in similar symptoms, though their causes and treatments differ. Permanent damage to the lungs can occur if the condition isn’t treated, but depending on the cause, the prognosis for dogs with pulmonary edema is generally good if the underlying cause and symptoms are treated properly. If you see the signs of pulmonary edema in your dog, you should consult your veterinarian right away so they can diagnose the condition, determine the cause, and begin treatment. Here is what you should know about the symptoms, causes, and treatments for pulmonary edema in dogs.

Symptoms Of Pulmonary Edema In Dogs

Dogue de bordeaux dog portrait with its eyes closed looking away from the camera on a white background

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The symptoms of pulmonary edema in dogs can vary from mild to severe depending on how much fluid has built up in the lungs. These symptoms can be similar to other medical conditions, which is why it is important to see a veterinarian for a diagnosis. Here are several signs of pulmonary edema in dogs.

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Fast breathing
  • Breathing with mouth open
  • Crackling sound while breathing
  • Blue lips and tongue
  • Weakness
  • Collapse

Causes Of Pulmonary Edema In Dogs

Schapendoe or Dutch sheepdog, Canis familiaris, resting in grass, tongue lolling. (Photo by: Auscape/UIG via Getty Images)

(Picture Credit: Auscape/UIG via Getty Images)

The causes of pulmonary edema in dogs vary depending on the type. The causes of cardiogenic pulmonary edema are associated with congestive heart failure and include the following.

Here are some causes of non-cardiogenic pulmonary edema in dogs.

  • Electrocution
  • Head trauma
  • Cancer
  • Nearly drowning
  • Smoke inhalation
  • Pneumonia
  • Toxins such as snake venom
  • Airway obstruction
  • Strangulation
  • Laryngeal paralysis
  • Seizures
  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome
  • Leptospirosis
  • Anemia

Treatments For Pulmonary Edema In Dogs

doctor helping a dog with lung problems

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Treatment for pulmonary edema in dogs depends on the severity of the symptoms. For dogs experiencing extreme respiratory distress, oxygen therapy may be provided along with antibiotics to prevent the development of pneumonia. Intravenous fluid therapy may also be used to help excess fluid flow through the body more easily. Diuretics can also help dogs pass excess fluids.

Treatment beyond that depends largely on the cause of the condition. Treating the underlying cause can be simple and be resolved with oxygen therapy, or it can be complicated and long-term, especially with congestive heart failure. Your veterinarian will be able to prescribe you a proper course of treatment based on the cause of your dog’s condition if they suffer from pulmonary edema. Often, the prognosis is good if treatment begins quickly, though with conditions like congestive heart failure, the pulmonary edema may be likely to recur. If that is the case, the prognosis could be quite poor. Your veterinarian may prescribe a low sodium diet, vasodilators, and medication to manage the condition. Follow your veterinarian’s instructions for care closely, continue with follow-up vet visits, and monitor your dog’s health for any changes.

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