Overview of Cyanosis (Blue Coloration) in Dogs
Cyanosis is a bluish or purplish coloration imparted to the skin or mucous membranes due to excessive amounts of poorly oxygenated hemoglobin in the circulation. The causes in dogs include certain congenital heart diseases, various respiratory diseases, and exposure to certain chemicals that result in the creation of some abnormal forms of hemoglobin which are incapable of binding oxygen properly.
Cyanosis in dogs is usually an alarming clinical symptom for pet owners and for veterinarians.
What to Watch For
Diagnosis of Cyanosis in Dogs
Treatment of Cyanosis in Dogs
Therapy of cyanosis will depend on what is causing the condition.
Emergency treatment involves making sure that the airway is unobstructed and providing oxygen by: face mask, nasal oxygen tube, oxygen cage, intubation of the trachea.
There is no specific home care for cyanosis. Animals who are suspected to be cyanotic should be evaluated by a veterinarian immediately. Depending on the cause of the cyanosis, your veterinarian will make specific recommendations as warranted.
In-depth Information on Cyanosis in Dogs
Cyanosis is the bluish or purplish discoloration of the mucous membranes or skin due to excessive amounts of desaturated (poorly oxygenated) hemoglobin in the blood stream. Oxygenated blood is red. Poorly oxygenated blood is dark blue. The more deoxygenated hemoglobin in the bloodstream the more bluish coloration will be imparted to the tissues.
There are two general “types” of cyanosis: central and peripheral.
In young animals, the most likely cause is a congenital heart disease where poorly oxygenated blood that is returning to the heart erroneously bypasses the lungs and is sent back out into the systemic circulation without picking up more oxygen. This is called “right-to-left shunting” because poorly oxygenated blood from the right side of the heart is shunted to the left side of the heart where it is pumped out into the general circulation.
Any age animal can develop cyanosis secondary to severe pulmonary (lung) disease, such as severe pneumonia, or to diseases that prevent the lungs from expanding properly, such as fluid or air in the chest cavity.
Genetic defects in hemoglobin can alter its ability to carry oxygen, however, these defects are rare in companion animals. Hemoglobin defects are more likely to develop secondary to ingestion of, or exposure to, chemicals and oxidants.
Causes of peripheral cyanosis include:
Causes of central cyanosis would include: