Signs of Water in the Lungs of Dogs

By Tammy Dray

Water in the lungs can be tricky to diagnose, as many of the signs and symptoms of edema mimic the symptoms of other respiratory abnormalities. You need to know the signs, and if you observe any of them, take your dog to the vet immediately for evaluation and treatment. Water in the lungs, or pulmonary edema, is a serious condition.

It Can Be Deadly

Pulmonary edema refers to the accumulation of fluid in the lungs. It affects how well your pet can breathe, and it can lead to death if not treated appropriately and aggressively. The type of treatment depends on the cause and the severity of the problem; treatment might include medication to help release fluids from the lungs, as well as oxygen therapy to help your pet breathe easier.

Watch for Difficulty Breathing

One of the most common signs of pulmonary edema is difficulty breathing. Dogs with water in the lungs often make unusual sounds, such as wheezing or crackling, when they breathe. They experience coughing and an increased respiratory rate, which might look like your dog is making an effort to breathe.

Other Signs to Look For

Some dogs with pulmonary edema will also show weakness and might collapse. These are especially common after walking, playing or being involved in some sort of physical activity. Because water in the lungs prevents oxygen from getting to the lungs, your dog's tongue and gums might look blue.

Things to Keep in Mind

The presence of fluid in the lungs has various causes, and only a veterinarian can establish which one is causing the problem in your pet. A common cause of water in the lungs is chronic valve disease, but other heart problems can lead to pulmonary edema. Other causes include trauma, acute lung injury, smoke inhalation, drowning and underlying lung disease.