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Pulmonary Fibrosis in Dogs

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Other medical problems can lead to symptoms similar to those encountered in pulmonary fibrosis (PF). Radiographs and bronchoalveolar lavage [BAL] will often diagnose pulmonary fibrosis.

Further diagnostic testing may be needed to determine secondary factors such as active inflammation or to eliminate other causes of similar symptoms like heart disease. Diseases that can appear similar to those with (PF) include:

  • Bronchopneumonia or bacterial lung infection is diagnosed from radiographic appearance.

  • Chronic bronchitis or chronic inflammation of the bronchial tubes is associated with recurrent and productive coughing.

  • Congestive heart failure, which causes fluid build up in the lungs, can be a challenge to distinguish, but a cardiac evaluation should be helpful. The absence of a heart murmur in a small-breed dog virtually excludes a diagnosis of congestive heart failure from valve mitral disease, the most common reason for heart failure. An echocardiogram can rule out cardiomyopathy. It should be noted that some dogs with chronic heart failure also develop pulmonary fibrosis.

  • Heartworm disease can be diagnosed with a blood test and by X-ray inspection.

  • Inflammatory lung disease, such as pulmonary infiltrates of eosinophils (PIE), can be diagnosed with radiographs and BAL.

  • Lungworm infection requires special diagnostic fecal tests and often a sample of lung fluid for microscopic examination.

  • Pulmonary neoplasia (cancer) appears very different from fibrosis on the chest X-ray.

  • Thromboembolism, which is a clot in the blood vessels of the lung, is a real diagnostic challenge but is more likely with certain conditions.

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