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Pus in the Chest Cavity of Dogs



Dogs with this condition should be hospitalized in the intensive care unit for treatment. It may take several days to weeks to fully eradicate the infection. Drainage of the chest cavity through a tube is critical; otherwise, the condition cannot be resolved. The chest cavity will be rinsed out (through the chest tube) every six to eight hours with warm, sterile saline.


Coupage -- a technique that involves rapidly slapping the chest wall, but not with enough force to injure the animal -- may help remove debris from the chest cavity. A bacterial culture will be repeated if your dog's condition does not improve.


The infected dog should be encouraged to lightly exercise -- 10 minutes every six to eight hours -- to promote breathing and speed up the recovery process. If there are abscesses in the lungs, stiffening of the lining of the chest cavity, lung-lobe twisting, extensive clumping of pustules, or if the mediastinum is involved, surgery will be indicated.


Surgery will also be necessary for removing a foreign body if your veterinarian can find it on X-ray, ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).


If your veterinarian chooses to perform a thoracotomy, your pet will be treated with pain medication following the procedure, and antibiotics to prevent infection from the incision. The type of antibiotics may be changed depending on the results of the culture and sensitivity tests.


Living and Management


Your veterinarian will schedule monthly follow-up appointments for your pet after it is discharged from the hospital, including complete blood counts and X-rays to follow its progress. While there may be some lung damage remaining in the chest cavity, resulting from the pus formations, fluid should be absent.


An antibiotic regimen should be continued for at least a month after the infection has cleared, or when the blood work results are normal or there is no evidence of fluid re-accumulation on the dog's X-ray. This antibiotic treatment regimen is generally between 3 to 12 months, although it may take longer.


The prognosis is fair to excellent with continuous antibiotic therapy and sufficient drainage of the chest cavity. Your dog’s exercise level can gradually be returned to normal over a period of two to four months.



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