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Pulmonary Fibrosis in Dogs

By: PetPlace Veterinarians

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Diagnostic tests are needed to recognize PF and exclude other diseases, including:

  • Complete medical history and physical examination, including careful auscultation (stethoscope examination) of the heart and lungs. Lung sounds are typically abnormal with a "crackles" noticed when the dog takes a deep breath. These abnormal sounds and shortness of breath are similar to those heard with heart failure. Tests must be completed to distinguish the conditions.

  • Radiography of the thorax (chest X-rays) is mandatory for diagnosis and to exclude other lung or chest disorders.

  • A complete blood count (CBC)

  • Testing arterial blood gas (ABG) or pulse oximetry, which is the measure of oxygen content in arterial blood, to document abnormal lung function

  • Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL), cytology, cell differential count and culture and sensitivity are important tests in identifying inflammation of the lung and excluding some infections and cancers.

  • Lung biopsy is the only definitive diagnostic test.


    PF is often a severe and progressive condition that causes difficulty breathing. Therapy of pulmonary fibrosis is frustrating because the underlying cause of lung inflammation or scar tissue is rarely determined or controlled. Therapy does not reverse fibrosis, though it may prevent future inflammation or lung injury. Treatments for PF may include:

  • A trial course of bronchodilators
  • Immunosuppressive doses of prednisone
  • Furosemide (Lasix®) at low doses seems to benefit some dogs though the exact reason for this is uncertain

    Home Care and Prevention

    Weight loss in overweight dogs can reduce the work of breathing, so stick to a diet for your pet that has been prescribed by your veterinarian. Reduce your pet's exposure to dust, chemicals and smoke.

    Exercise limitations should be imposed if your dog becomes short of breath. Provide only exercise that your pet can tolerate. Use a harness on your pet instead of a neck collar.

    Follow up with your veterinarian as needed for examination, laboratory tests and chest X-rays.

    There are not any specific recommendations for prevention of PF. Obesity should be controlled and eliminate exposure to smoke, dusts, fumes, barns and crop dust.

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