Pulmonary edema in dogs: causes, symptoms and cure


Under normal conditions, there is fluid circulating between the lungs and the rest of the body, it is a natural function, a process that is usually completed without problems. But When for some reason some pressure is exerted on the lungs, this process can be affected, leaving accumulated fluid in the lungs that fails to leave. It is when we talk about pulmonary edema in dogs.

This problem can be treated, and if it is done soon it does not usually present complications.

Symptoms of pulmonary edema in dogs

If your dog has pulmonary edema, it will most likely show the following symptoms:

  • Dry cough
  • Wheezing
  • Crunching when breathing
  • Breathing too fast
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Breathe through the mouth

Have you observed any of these symptoms in your dog? Go to the vet now! If you reside in Spain We recommend that you download our app quickly to locate a veterinarian urgently.

Causes of pulmonary edema in dogs

Very often it tends to be associated with pulmonary edema with pneumonia, but this is not the only possible cause. The truth is that there are others such as:

  • Anemia
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Shortage of blood protein
  • Toxins, such as poisons or smoke
  • Airway obstruction
  • Being on the verge of drowning, since the lungs are filled with water

Treatment of pulmonary edema in dogs

If you suspect pulmonary edema, you should take your dog to the veterinarian for tests. To reach the diagnosis of pulmonary edema in dogs, Analytics and tests are performed to rule out other pathologies, such as bronchitis, pneumonia or heartworm.

The treatment will depend on the severity of the edema. It may be necessary to administer oxygen or fluids to favor the transit of fluids in the body. Diuretics can remarkably help drain fluid from the lungs.

Further, The dog should be given a comfortable environment and let him rest until he recovers. Unfortunately, pulmonary edema in dogs is usually recurrent once it appears, so it is important to stay alert.

Pulmonary edema in dogs cannot be prevented, but It can be detected in time and treated without difficulties if you observe the status of your pet and go to the veterinarian as soon as possible.

Pulmonary edema in the dog: what is it?

Pulmonary edema in dogs is a disease that greatly affects the life of our four-legged friend. It can be considered as a spill of fluid in the lungs. This makes the dog breathe with great difficulty.

This health problem usually appears when other diseases such as heart failure are present. Pulmonary edema in dogs usually occurs acutely and in these cases, the danger of death for our pet is very high.

Pulmonary edema in dogs: what are the causes?

We have mentioned that the main cause of pulmonary edema in dogs is cardiovascular problems. We can better explain what happens to the dog's organism. The vascular pressure of the lung becomes abnormal due to heart failure. The heart then pumps blood with great difficulty in the right direction, causing an inverse flow that has too strong intensity to the blood vessels, causing the fluids to go directly to the lungs.

But not only heart failure causes pulmonary edema. Other effects such as allergies, inhalation of toxic substances, bronchitis and pneumonia, autoimmune diseases, acute pancreatitis and even prescription veterinary drugs to treat other canine diseases may also contribute.

Pulmonary edema in dogs: what are the symptoms?

The symptoms of pulmonary edema in dogs can be easily recognized:

  • difficulty breathing
  • cyanotic mucous membranes
  • cough
  • the dog seems scared and restless

Pulmonary edema in dogs: Care and ideal therapy

The recommended therapy consists mainly of the intake of diuretics, usually given intravenously, and that help the lungs to expel the fluid. It should be mentioned that it is very important to keep the dog calm, therefore it is always necessary to sedate the dog.

This is because agitation can cause tachycardia or arrhythmia and can further affect the pet's heart, especially when there is heart failure. It is recommended that we also be calm in this situation.

Let's also avoid touching the dog too much so that it is not stressed unnecessarily. It is important to keep the dog in a quiet area so that he does not feel any stress. Sometimes oxygen may also be needed.

The treatments usually last a couple of days and help stabilize the dog's health. Pulmonary edema disease usually cannot be resolved definitively.

Cardiogenic pulmonary edema in dogs: it is also called acute because it is a serious condition

In this particular case, we speak of a true emergency, because the life of the animal is in imminent danger. In general, acute pulmonary edema affects only old-age dogs that are cardiopathic.

The cause that causes this disease is a sudden failure in cardio-circulatory function. Pulmonary congestion causes poor oxygenation and this causes symptoms such as cough, noisy breathing and the inability of the dog to remain calm and rest (the so-called "air hunger").

Other symptoms that occur, is that the dog is very scared and can also expel little bloody foam through the nostrils.
He acute pulmonary edema, also called cardiogenic pulmonary edemaIt usually happens during the night, therefore, it is advisable to be ready and have a phone number on hand to call a veterinarian, and we must also have emergency medications. It is always important to use medications that have been prescribed by the veterinarian.

Also, to treat this condition, prescription medications should be given to reduce hypertension (diuretics and vasodilators), as well as medications that help heart health. Medications that help the dog feel comfortable are also recommended.

You may be interested in reading another article related to the health and well-being of the dog such as:


  • Congestive Heart Failure in Dogs
  • What is congestive heart failure?
  • What causes congestive heart failure?
  • What are the signs of this condition?
  • What diagnostic tests may be necessary?
  • How is congestive heart failure treated?


Pulmonary edema is identified as the accumulation of fluid in the lungs. It is often associated with pneumonia, although there are many other possible causes. Normal lungs have the fluid that moves from the lungs into the internal space of the body, an ongoing process for normal and healthy function. Any additional pressure on the dog's lungs can damage this mechanism, which leads to the accumulation of fluid in the lungs.

If this excess liquid is not removed, an edema is formed. Damage can occur if this condition is left untreated, but when treated properly, the result is positive.

You'll Love This Curly-Coated Kitty

The friendly and inquisitive LaPerm has an easy-care coat that comes in a variety of colors and patterns.

What is pulmonary edema in dogs?

Pulmonary edema is formed by the accumulation of fluid in the lungs. This makes the dog's breathing more or less severe, presenting from mild symptoms that barely interfere with the animal's normal life, to a life-threatening picture. We can also differentiate between an acute edema and one that remains over time, such as cardiogenic edema, derived from a problem in the heart. It is important to know, therefore, that it is not a disease in itself, but the symptom of another disorder.

Causes of pulmonary edema in dogs

Basically we can distinguish between cardiogenic, non-cardiogenic and neurogenic pulmonary edema, less frequent in dogs.

He cardiogenic pulmonary edema in dogs is the one that originates due to a heart disease. When the heart fails, a backflow of blood to the lungs, liver, limbs, etc. occurs. This reflux increases the tension in the veins, which is what causes the fluid to seep into the lungs or abdominal cavity. With liquid in the lungs, the dog coughs. Thus, pulmonary edema indicates insufficiency in the left part of the heart. Instead, when the lesion is on the right side, fluid accumulates in the abdomen, causing ascites and edemas in the legs and, also, in the thoracic cavity, what is known as pleural effusion. If the liquid accumulates in the bronchioles of the lungs, the dog may have an expectoration of reddish and foamy fluid. Dogs with this problem are usually presented cardiomegaly and pulmonary edema. Cardiomegaly is the increase in heart size,

For its part, the non-cardiogenic pulmonary edema It is one that does not have its origin in a heart disease. Some causes are asphyxiation, septicemia (generalized infection), pancreatitis, trauma, pneumonia, poisoning, smoke inhalation, etc.

Finally, the neurogenic pulmonary edema in dogs It is one that occurs after episodes of seizures in which there is an involvement of the nervous system, specifically that which acts on the involuntary functions of internal organs. In this case, the blood flow in the lungs is increased without any need, thereby causing excess fluid.

Symptoms of pulmonary edema in dogs

Among the symptoms of pulmonary edema, the following stand out:

  • Restless breathing or tachypnea
  • Respiratory distress or shortness of breath In severe cases the dog literally drowns.
  • Weakness.
  • Nervousness.
  • Strange postures in an attempt to find air.
  • Runny nose It can be hemorrhagic.
  • Occasional dry cough or, if it evolves, constant and moist.
  • In the most severe cases, any movement can cause the dog's mucous membranes to become bluish (cyanosis) due to lack of air.

In case of detecting any of these symptoms, it is necessary go quickly to the vet to confirm or rule out the diagnosis.

Diagnosis and treatment of pulmonary edema in dogs

Are used diagnostic tests such as auscultation, chest x-ray or ultrasound, in addition to blood analysis. The electrocardiogram, urine test and blood pressure measurement are also important tests to know if a dog has pulmonary edema. In the most serious animals, special care must be taken, since any manipulation can exacerbate the respiratory crisis.

How does pulmonary edema heal in dogs?

For proper treatment, the veterinarian will determine the cause. If it is an emergency, the protocol to follow goes through supply the dog with oxygen, sometimes sedate it, and administer diuretics to help remove excess fluid, without causing dehydration, in addition to fluid therapy. Other drugs that can be used include vasodilators or hypertensive. The dog should be monitored to control the amount of urine and its cardiac and renal function, which is the next system that fails in cases where there is a heart problem.

Pulmonary edema in dogs with acute presentation puts the animal's life at risk, so that, for recovery, intensive veterinary treatment is essential. Cardiogenic edema can cause mild symptoms in dogs with heart disease. In these cases in which the presentation of edema is maintained over time, we can follow the following recommendations:

  • Obviously, the first thing is to follow the indications and medications prescribed by the veterinarian, as well as the revisions to which you cite us. Special attention should be paid to the doses and the hours of drug administration.
  • We must avoid subjecting the dog to intense exercise.
  • The feeding It will be specific for dogs with heart problems.
  • Water should always be at your disposal, since, if we are administering diuretics, we must be careful not to become dehydrated.
  • It is necessary to know that the dog, shortly after ingesting the diuretic, will need to evacuate a considerable amount of urine.

How long does a dog with pulmonary edema live?

The most severe cases of pulmonary edema in dogs can cause the death of the animal by preventing adequate oxygenation. In contrast, a cardiogenic pulmonary edema can "live" with the dog the same as his heart disease, that is, during years, with a correct veterinary follow-up and guidelines as we have indicated. Thus, the life expectancy of a dog with pulmonary edema will depend on the underlying cause.

This article is purely informative, at we have no power to prescribe veterinary treatments or make any kind of diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian in case he presents any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Pulmonary edema in dogs - Prognosis and treatment, we recommend you go to our Other health problems section.