If your dog has fluid in their lungs, they have an underlying medical condition — perhaps one that you don’t yet know about. It is not a medical condition by itself; instead, it is a symptom. Let’s find out what you really should know about fluid in the lungs in dogs, also known as pulmonary edema.

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  1. Symptoms of Fluid in the Lungs in Dogs
  2. How Do Dogs Get Fluid in Their Lungs
  3. Treatment of Fluid in the Lungs in Dogs
  4. Home Remedies for Dog Lungs with Fluid
  5. How Can the Emergency Fund Help with Treatment
  6. FAQ
  7. Conclusion

Symptoms of Fluid in the Lungs in Dogs

There are two main types of fluid in the lungs in dogs: cardiogenic pulmonary edema and noncardiogenic pulmonary edema. The former is caused by heart conditions or problems, and the latter has non-heart-related causes. The symptoms of each look a little different, and your dog’s condition can rapidly get worse — over hours in severe cases.

This is why it’s smart to invest in pet tech, such as the Petcube Camera, which allows you to have two-way chats with your pets and monitor them at all times.

Common signs and symptoms of fluid in the lungs in dogs to look out for include:

  • Unusual breathing sounds, such as wheezing, crackling noises, or whistling;
  • No interest in food or water;
  • No interest in regular enjoyable activities, such as walks or ball games;
  • Breathing difficulties, including fast, shallow, and labored breathing;
  • Coughing;
  • Coughing more when lying down and/or at night;
  • Low/no energy;
  • Irritated or annoyed temperament and may snap;
  • Changing the color of the tongue and lips, turning from normal to blue or purple;
  • Fainting;
  • Excessive panting.

How Do Dogs Get Fluid in Their Lungs

Pulmonary edema happens when there is an underlying problem. As previously mentioned, this can be related to the heart, but it can also occur as a result of blockages of the airway, smoke inhalation, electrocution, heartworm, blood protein problems, anemia, almost-drowning, insect bites and stings, venomous snake bites, pneumonia, water inhalation, and some types of cancer. And that is by no means a comprehensive list.

Within the lungs, alveoli (air sacs) are meant to fill with air. With pulmonary edema, the sacs fill up with fluid instead. It can happen slowly over time, but it can also happen almost instantly.

Heart-related fluid in your dog’s lungs can be a sign of heart wall thickening, heart valve abnormalities or dysfunction, an enlarged heart, a diet high in salt (sodium), or infections of the heart.

There are several potential causes behind fluid issues in your dog’s lungs. With vague symptoms, it could just as easily be a potentially fatal problem as it could be an easily and quickly treated condition. For this reason, seek urgent medical attention whenever you notice any kind of breathing change in your pet.

Treatment of Fluid in the Lungs in Dogs

A vet will diagnose the root cause of the fluid in your dog’s lungs before starting a treatment plan. Diuretics help to get rid of the fluid buildup, and there is a good chance your pup will also need oxygen therapy. This requires a short stay in the hospital.

Airway blockages usually require surgery to remove the object causing them, which can pose problems for older dogs due to general anesthesia. Antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications treat infections, and heartworm treatment plus ongoing preventative care solves heartworm-related problems. Intravenous fluids, colloids, and pain relief are prescribed when necessary.

Without determining the root cause of lung fluid in dogs, it can’t be effectively treated. Without the correct treatment, fluid in the lungs of dogs is fatal.

Home Remedies for Dog Lungs with Fluid

This condition requires urgent medical attention. You cannot diagnose it at home, and you cannot effectively treat it at home either. Attempting to do so would amount to neglect and animal cruelty.

A vet will sometimes prescribe a change in diet, specifically a low-sodium one, to help with cardiac-related conditions. Other potential homes or natural remedies for fluid in the lungs and associated causes include adding apple cider vinegar as a supplement to your dog’s diet, stopping smoking in the house, reducing toxic cleaning chemicals, removing irritants like air fresheners, and making sure the home is well-ventilated.

These natural remedies will not work if proper medical treatment isn’t administered. Always speak to your vet before adding supplements or changing your pet’s diet or lifestyle in significant ways.

How Can the Emergency Fund Help with Treatment


Fluid in the lungs of dogs can very quickly cause breathing problems for obvious reasons: the space reserved for air is taken up by fluid instead. A reduced amount of oxygen rapidly becomes a fatal problem, so seeking medical care should not be put off or avoided.

Petcube’s Emergency Fund covers pet emergencies such as breathing difficulties, offering pet parents up to $3,000 of care per year for up to six pets.

For $29 per month, this alternative to conventional pet insurance has no restrictions. The life-threatening complications of pulmonary edema, which can sometimes fit into the ‘pre-existing condition’ category, are often exempt from regular pet insurance providers. The Emergency Fund would pick up the slack, so to speak, offering you financial support when you would otherwise be unable to pay for pet care.


What is the prognosis for fluid in the lungs in dogs?

For easily treatable and early-diagnosed conditions, the prognosis is good. The prompt treatment gives your pup the best chance of a full (or close to full) recovery. There are also plenty of ways to treat individual cases. In many cases, ongoing care is necessary.

Can fluid in the lungs of dogs be prevented?

Keeping your dog fit, healthy, well-stimulated, and well-executed is the best way to prevent virtually all medical complaints. To make training your pet easier, you can buy special toys. Regular vet checks will also ensure problems are caught at an early stage. Some causes of these symptoms are preventable, but many are not. PetMD states: "Unfortunately, there are currently no preventive measures for pulmonary edema."


Take your pooch to the vet immediately if you notice breathing difficulties, especially if your pet has other symptoms at the same time. Struggling to breathe is a medical emergency. It’s the kind of problem that you would call emergency services for if it happened to humans. The same urgent reaction is required for dogs and other pets with the same symptoms.

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