Fluid in the Lungs in Dogs

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Pulmonary Edema in Dogs

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

If this excess fluid is not removed, edema forms. Damage can occur if this condition is left untreated, but when treated appropriately, the outcome is positive.

Animals of all ages, genders, and breeds can be diagnosed with pulmonary edema. If you would like to learn more about how this disease affects cats, please visit this page in the PetMD health library.

Symptoms and Types 

Some of the most common symptoms of pulmonary edema are:

  • Dry cough
  • Wheezing
  • Crackling noises during breathing (rales)
  • Difficulty breathing (dyspnea)
  • Abnormally fast breathing (tachypnea)
  • Open-mouth breathing

Pulmonary edema affects both the respiratory and cardiovascular systems.


Some of the most common causes for pulmonary edema are: 

  • Anemia
  • Pneumonia
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Too little protein in the blood (hypoproteinemia)
  • Toxins (e.g., smoke and snake venom)
  • An obstruction of the animal's airway
  • Almost drowning (where a high amount of fluid enters the lungs)


Upon examination, the following conditions will need to be ruled out for proper treatment:

Typically a blood test will be performed to look for abnormalities, as well as an X-ray to view potential signs of pneumonia.

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