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

Noncardiogenic Pulmonary Edema in Dogs

Noncardiogenic pulmonary edema in dogs arises from an increased permeability of the lung blood vessels, causing fluid leakage and swelling. Severe cases trigger an inflammatory response, with an accumulation of inflammatory cells in the lungs.

Various factors can alter lung vessel permeability. Dogs experiencing edema due to brain disorders, electric cord bite injuries, or upper airway obstructions may undergo a systemic release of catecholamines. This release causes systemic blood vessel constriction, diverting blood into the lungs, overloading lung blood vessels, and inducing inflammation and swelling.

In cases where dogs have a bacterial blood infection or pancreatitis, a generalized inflammatory response in the lungs may manifest and worsen within 24 hours post-initial episode. Patients may rapidly deteriorate from apparent health to a fatal condition within hours of the incident.

Symptoms and Types

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Increased breathing rate
  • Assuming unusual positions to breathe more comfortably
  • Pale or bluish gums
  • Spitting up pink, frothy saliva, or bubbles of saliva
  • Increased heart rate


Upper airway obstruction

  • Laryngeal paralysis
  • Injury from a choke-chain
  • Lung masses
  • Lung abscesses

Acute neurological diseases (brain disorders)

  • Head trauma
  • Prolonged seizures

Systemic inflammatory response syndrome

  • Bacterial bloodstream infections
  • Pancreatitis inflammation
  • Injury from electric cord bites
  • Inhalation of smoke
  • Aspiration pneumonia (fluid sucked into the lungs)


Diagnosing noncardiogenic pulmonary edema in your dog involves providing a detailed history of your pet’s health, symptom onset, and any possible triggering incidents. This information can help your veterinarian identify which organs might be contributing to secondary symptoms.

Your veterinarian will conduct a comprehensive physical examination of your dog, including blood tests such as a chemical blood profile, complete blood count, urinalysis, and electrolyte panel. Additionally, arterial blood gas measurement, pulse oximetry, and coagulation testing will be performed to assess blood clotting functions. Radiographs of the chest cavity are crucial for a definitive diagnosis, and an echocardiogram may be conducted to confirm or rule out pulmonary edema caused by heart disease.


Treatment involves hospitalization for dogs experiencing severe respiratory dysfunction. Those with moderate to severe conditions receive oxygen therapy and are placed in a quiet environment for cage rest to reduce stress, as stress can trigger the production of stress hormones. In cases where dogs struggle to breathe independently, mechanical ventilation may be necessary.

Living and Management

Living and management for dogs with noncardiogenic edema often involve a period of worsening before improvement occurs. Severely ill patients typically have a poor prognosis. However, mild to moderately ill patients have a good chance of full recovery, and the long-term prognosis is excellent for those who recover.

To prevent noncardiogenic pulmonary edema in your dog, take preventive measures such as preventing chewing on electrical wires. Additionally, seek immediate veterinary treatment at the first sign of seizures or other concerning indications to help prevent the onset of the condition.

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