Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

Accumulation of Air Between Chest and Lungs in Dogs

Pneumothorax in Dogs

Pneumothorax refers to the accumulation of air in the pleural space, situated between the chest wall and the lungs. This condition can be classified as either traumatic or spontaneous, and further categorized as closed or open.

Both canines and felines are prone to pneumothorax. Among them, large breeds with deep chests, like the Siberian Husky, are thought to have a higher susceptibility to spontaneous pneumothorax.

Symptoms and Types

Pneumothorax can be classified into four main categories: traumatic, spontaneous, closed, and open. Symptoms vary depending on the type of pneumothorax, although some common indicators include rapid breathing (tachypnea), difficulty breathing (dyspnea), shallow and rapid abdominal breathing, and an increased heart rate (tachycardia). Traumatic pneumothorax, resulting from air accumulation in the pleural space due to trauma like a car accident, may manifest with signs of shock.

Dogs exhibiting spontaneous pneumothorax, however, may display signs of lung disease. Spontaneous pneumothorax stems from non-traumatic causes and can be primary (occurring without underlying lung disease) or secondary (associated with an underlying lung condition).

Open pneumothorax arises when a defect occurs in the respiratory system, such as a chest wall puncture, allowing communication between the pleural space and external atmosphere. In contrast, closed pneumothorax occurs without any respiratory defects. Traumatic pneumothorax is typically open, while spontaneous pneumothorax is always closed.

Another variation is tension pneumothorax, where air enters the pleural space during inhalation, becomes trapped, and creates a one-way transfer of air into the pleural cavity.


The causes of pneumothorax vary according to its type. Traumatic pneumothorax can result from incidents like car accidents, leading to penetrating injuries in the neck or chest. Additionally, surgical chest incisions or esophageal perforations during surgery can also cause traumatic pneumothorax.

On the other hand, spontaneous pneumothorax may be triggered by factors such as lung cancer, lung abscesses, lung disease caused by parasites, the presence of foreign bodies in the lung, or the formation of blister-like structures known as pulmonary bullae within the dog’s lungs.


In suspected cases of pneumothorax, two main diagnostic procedures are typically performed: thoracocentesis and bronchoscopy. Thoracocentesis involves inserting an intravenous (IV) catheter connected to an extension into the pleural cavity. This procedure not only confirms the diagnosis but also allows for the removal of air from the pleural space. Bronchoscopy utilizes a thin tube with a small camera attached to it, inserted through the mouth into the airways. It is particularly useful if there is evidence of tracheal or significant airway trauma. Additional diagnostic techniques may include chest X-ray imaging and urine analysis.


Dogs diagnosed with pneumothorax typically require hospitalization until the accumulation of air in the pleural cavity ceases or stabilizes. It’s essential to remove as much air as possible from the pleural space and provide oxygen therapy until the pet stabilizes. Air removal is usually conducted through thoracocentesis, wherein an intravenous (IV) catheter attached to an extension is inserted into the pleural cavity.

For cases of traumatic open pneumothorax, immediate attention involves cleaning and covering the dog’s chest wounds with an airtight bandage. Subsequently, surgical repair is recommended. Additionally, the administration of intravenous (IV) fluids is often necessary following traumatic incidents.

Living and Management

Following initial treatment, it’s crucial to severely restrict the dog’s activity for at least one week to reduce the risk of recurrence. Monitoring vital signs, including respiratory rate and pulse, is essential to detect any signs of recurrence.

The subsequent care regimen depends on the type of pneumothorax affecting the dog and the severity of its condition. Your veterinarian will provide guidance on how to properly care for your dog until the follow-up examination.


A fundamental method to prevent traumatic pneumothorax is by confining dogs and keeping them away from hazardous areas such as roads, where they are at higher risk of injury.

Scroll to Top