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Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) in Dogs



Dogs suffering from this syndrome will need emergency treatment in an intensive care unit. Along with emergency treatment, the underlying cause must be established and treated in order to prevent further complications or death. Despite recent advances, ARDS remains one of the most difficult and challenging problems to treat in veterinary practice.


Supplemental oxygen therapy will be started immediately to minimize the respiratory distress. If your dog does not respond well to the oxygen therapy and continues to have severe breathing problems, there may be more success with ventilator supported breathing. Medications for treating ARDS include antibiotics, pain killers, fluid therapy, and corticosteroids for reducing inflammation and swelling. Frequent readings of temperature, pulse, respiration rate, and blood pressure will be necessary for following your dog's progress in the initial stage of the treatment. If your dog has been placed on ventilator support it may also require regular physiotherapy sessions and frequent changes in body position to prevent complications related to ventilator support. Dogs affected with ARDS are kept in strict cage confinement until they have fully recovered.


Living and Management


ARDS is a very serious health problem needing constant support from your side for the successful treatment, management and care of the condition. Be sure to follow your veterinarian’s guidelines closely, and if you are in doubt, consult with the doctor. If an underlying disease has not been conclusively diagnosed and resolved, another episode of respiratory distress may follow. Dogs that have been affected, and have survived this condition usually need time, rest, and good nutrition to fully recover. Do not confine your dog to stuffy or hot places, and allow your dog to signal when it has had enough walking or exercise. Some dogs will have scarring of the lungs even after the condition has been resolved, a condition referred to as fibrosis, and the tissue of the lungs will be stiffer and less capable of holding oxygen. Following the diet and management recommendations made by your veterinarian, and keeping activity minimal will be the best course for preventing a recurrence.



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