PetMD Seal

Mid-Chest Inflammation in Dogs

3 min read

Mediastinitis in Dogs


An inflammation of the mid-chest area is usually caused by a bacterial infection or a fungus. It’s rare in dogs, but in severe cases it may be life-threatening. It is also likely to spread, infecting the bloodstream. Abscesses sometimes develop, and the short vein (called the cranial vena cava in animals) that carries deoxygenated blood from the upper half of the body to the heart's right atrium may become infected. These abscesses can cut off the flow of blood to the heart, resulting in death.




  • Gagging
  • Drooling
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Swelling of the head, neck, and front legs
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fever




Dogs often try to eat and swallow inedible things, often causing blockage in the esophagus. This is followed by drooling, gagging, difficulty swallowing, and vomiting -- the usual signals for blockage. These and other signals may be depend on the location of the foreign object, the degree to which the esophagus is obstructed and the length of time of the blockage.


A partial obstruction, for instance, may allow fluids to pass, but not food. If the obstruction has been there for an extended period of time, the dog may refuse to eat, lose weight and/or become more tired. The foreign object may puncture the esophagus, resulting in an abscess, inflammation of the chest cavity, pneumonia, or abnormal breathing. Even after the foreign object has been removed or regurgitated, pneumonia may develop.


Another possible cause of mediastinitis is a blow to the neck or chest, or a wound to those areas.




Tests of various kinds will be conducted to rule out a range of possible causes for the symptoms; among these:


  • Respiratory tests
  • Examination of the digestive system
  • Blood tests will determine whether there is an infection and what that infection is
  • X-rays are used to identify any foreign bodies
  • A scope of the esophagus with contrast dye may also be necessary




Related Articles

Pneumonia (Aspiration) in Cats

Aspiration pneumonia is a condition in which a cat's lungs become inflamed due to the inhalation of foreign matter, from vomiting, or from the...

Hole in the Trachea in Cats

Tracheal perforation is a loss of the integrity of the tracheal wall, in the form of a hole or rip, allowing leakage of air into the surrounding...

Accumulation of Air Between Chest and Lungs in Cats

Pneumothorax is the medical term for an accumulation of air in the area between the cat's chest wall and lungs (the pleural space). It may be...

Allergic Shock in Cats

Anaphylaxis is an emergency condition that occurs when a cat is exposed to a certain allergen after having been exposed to it previously. In...