Pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs) can affect both people and pets, and it is a symptom of an underlying disease. However, this symptom by itself can be frightening and even life-threatening. If your dog starts coughing or becomes short of breath, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian right away to determine if the problem is cardiogenic (originating in the heart) or noncardiogenic. Cardiogenic pulmonary edema can be deadly, therefore the sooner you have it treated, the better your chances are.
What Is Pulmonary Edema?
Pulmonary edema occurs when the alveoli (small clusters of air sacs in the lungs) fill with fluid instead of air, reducing the amount of air available for intake and making breathing difficult. Heart failure, malignancy, a traumatic incident such as electrocution or shock, or a head injury are the most common causes of this illness. Pulmonary edema may usually be treated with a diuretic such as furosemide, but the underlying cause of the problem must be addressed.
Symptoms in Dogs
A bout of pulmonary edema in your dog can manifest itself in a variety of ways. It's important to keep an eye on your dog if it's panting excessively. Coughing and particularly quick breathing might indicate that your dog isn't getting enough oxygen. A swollen jugular vein is another symptom of pulmonary edema in dogs. Your dog's lips may become blue if left untreated, a disease known as cyanosis. If this occurs, a trip to the veterinarian is necessary.
Varieties and Causes
Cardiogenic pulmonary edema, the most severe form of fluid in the lungs, is caused by an increase in pulmonary capillary pressure caused by heart failure. The majority of pets with this ailment have an underlying heart disease problem, which has most likely led to previous health concerns. This form of edema affects mainly the left side of the lungs and can be fatal, especially in the case of full heart failure.
Noncardiogenic pulmonary edema, on the other hand, affects both sides of the lungs and can be caused by severe shock, an obstruction of the airway caused by a or a lodged foreign substance, or sepsis (bacteria in the bloodstream) during a severe illness.
How to Treat Cardiogenic Pulmonary Edema
When you arrive at your veterinarian's clinic, your dog will be thoroughly examined, including a stethoscope examination of the heart. Thoracic radiographs (X-rays) are often used to identify all types of pulmonary edema. If a heart problem is discovered, therapy will begin with supplementary oxygen, relaxation, and the use of the diuretic Lasix (furosemide).
In situations of congestive heart failure, furosemide is nearly usually utilized as an urgent therapy to eliminate excess fluid accumulation in the lungs and other parts of the body. Your veterinarian may, however, prescribe a stronger diuretic, such as spironolactone or hydrochlorothiazide, or a vasodilator. A mechanical respirator may be used in severe instances.
Cardiogenic patients receive follow-up treatment in the form of heart-strengthening medicines and a low-sodium diet. If your veterinarian prescribes furosemide or sends you home with a diuretic, keep an eye on your dog for indications of dehydration caused by an electrolyte imbalance in the bloodstream. If your dog develops lethargy, sadness, GI upset, or a seizure, contact your veterinarian immediately to report the adverse response, which will necessitate extra treatment.
Treatment of Noncardiogenic Conditions
The vet will check your dog for burns around the mouth region caused by an extension cord shock if the problem is noncardiogenic. Your veterinarian will also examine the airway (perhaps with a radiograph) for any foreign items that may be blocking complete breathing. Your veterinarian will attempt to remove obstructions under anesthesia if they are discovered; certain blockages may require surgery.
Medicines are used to treat most noncardiogenic edemas, including diuretics to remove excess fluid, anti-inflammatories to decrease swelling, and colloidal fluids to raise vascular pressure in the event of blood loss. The best course of care will be determined by your veterinarian, and the prognosis is typically good.
If the problem isn't connected to the heart, the veterinarian will provide you guidance on how to address the underlying problem. Repeated diagnostic testing will confirm the fluid level in your dog's lungs in all circumstances to ensure a successful therapy.
If you have a cardiac condition, cardiogenic pulmonary edema is difficult to avoid. However, taking care of your dog's current health might help prevent fluid-filled lungs and other problems.
To avoid noncardiogenic edema, keep any uncovered electrical wires out of reach, and seek quick veterinarian help if your dog has a seizure, no matter how small it appears.
This article is provided for informational purposes only. If your dog shows any signs of illness, please consult a veterinarian as quickly as possible.