Collection of Fluid in the Lungs (Not Due to Heart Disease) in Dogs

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Noncardiogenic Pulmonary Edema in Dogs

Noncardiogenic edema is caused by an increased permeability (or the ability to pass through, as by osmosis) of the blood vessels of the lungs. This increased permeability results in the leakage of fluid into the lung, causing edema, or swelling. If this becomes severe, the edema may be accompanied by an inflammatory response and an accumulation of inflammatory cells in the lung.

There are several factors which can cause changes in the permeability of the lung’s blood vessels. Dogs that have edema as a result of a brain disorder, from a response to an electric cord bite injury, or from an upper airway obstruction might experience a systemic release of catecholamines (neurotransmitters and hormones). This release would lead to a causative effect, with systemic constriction of blood vessels shunting blood into the lungs and overloading the blood vessels of the lung, damaging them, and leading to inflammation and swelling of the lungs.

Manifestation of a generalized inflammatory response in the lungs develops in patients with a bacterial infection of the blood, or with pancreatitis, and will often worsen over the 24 hours following the initial episode. The most seriously affected patients may progress from apparently normal health to a fatal condition only hours after the incident.

Symptoms and Types

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Increased breathing rate
  • Standing in unusual positions to breathe better
  • Pale or bluish gums
  • Spitting up pink, frothy saliva, or bubbles of saliva
  • Increased rate of heart beat


  • Upper airway obstruction
    • Paralysis of the larynx
    • Choke-chain injury
    • Mass in the lung
    • Abscess of the lung
  • Acute neurologic disease (brain disorders)
    • Head trauma
    • Prolonged seizures
  • Systemic inflammatory response syndrome
    • Bacterial infection in the blood
    • Inflammation of the pancreas
  • Electric cord bite injury
  • Smoke inhalation
  • Aspiration pneumonia (sucking fluid back into the lungs)


You will need to give a thorough history of your dog's health, onset of symptoms, and possible incidents that might have precipitated this condition. The history you provide may give your veterinarian clues as to which organs are causing secondary symptoms.

He or she will perform a complete physical exam on your dog, including a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, a urinalysis and an electrolyte panel. Arterial blood gas measurement, and pulse oximetry will also be performed, along with coagulation testing (whether the blood is clotting normally). Radiograph images of the thoracic (chest) cavity are essential for making a definitive diagnosis, and an echocardiogram may also be performed to rule out, or confirm, pulmonary (lung) edema caused by heart disease.

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pulmonary edema

The collection of fluid in the tissue of the lungs


Something that is related to the whole body and not just one particular part or organ


An in-depth examination of the properties of urine; used to determine the presence or absence of illness


Pertaining to the lungs


Pertaining to the chest


A medical condition in which the pancreas becomes inflamed


The voice box; this is one part of the respiratory system


The transfer of water through a type of membrane


A gland that aids in both digestive and insulin functions


The collection of fluid in the tissue


The prediction of a disease’s outcome in advance

Courtesy of Original Article