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Pleural Effusion in Dogs

By: PetPlace Veterinarians

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There are dozens of reasons for coughing, difficulty or labored breathing and fatigue. The conditions that are most likely to cause these signs are diseases of the airways and lung, abnormalities of the heart and blood vessels, and accumulation of air in the chest cavity (pleural space). Examples of such diseases include:

  • Heart failure
  • Lung cancer
  • Lung infection (fungal, bacterial, parasites)
  • Tumors in the airways
  • Obstruction of the airways (foreign bodies, tumors)
  • Deficiency of protein in the blood stream (hypoproteinemia)
  • Overhydration (such as when an excessive volume of fluid is given intravenously)
  • Trauma causing a diaphragmatic hernia
  • Trauma to the chest wall, lungs or heart
  • Diseases of the pancreas, such as pancreatitis (uncommon)
  • Liver disease
  • Blood clots in the large vessels
  • Abdominal surgery
  • Idiopathic (unknown cause)

    When severe, the accumulation of fluid around the lungs (pleural effusion) will cause your pet to have difficulty breathing. The condition can become life threatening. Though dramatic, the symptoms of difficulty breathing (dyspnea) are not specific for only one condition. There are numerous causes of pleural effusion and it is imperative that your veterinarian determine the cause in order to institute appropriate and specific therapy.

    However, initial treatment of pleural effusion in all cases where the animal is having difficulty breathing, is directed at removing the fluid in order to allow the lungs to re-expand and to improve ventilation (air intake).

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