Pneumothorax in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Identifying and Managing Pneumothorax in Dogs

Pneumothorax in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Pneumothorax, often known as a collapsed lung, is a potentially fatal illness that can occur in dogs. It happens when air builds up between the lungs and the chest wall, putting pressure on the lungs and making breathing difficult. This article will examine the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of pneumothorax in dogs.

A critical respiratory condition in dogs called pneumothorax poses a life-threatening risk if it is not promptly diagnosed and treated. As a dog owner, it is critical to be aware of the signs and symptoms of pneumothorax and to seek veterinary care as soon as possible if your dog appears to be suffering from this illness.


This article will cover dog pneumothorax's causes, signs, and management.

What would cause a dog's lung to collapse?

Numerous conditions can result in dog pneumothorax. The following are some of the most frequent causes of a collapsed lung in dogs:

  • Trauma: Trauma to the chest or lungs, such as a vehicle accident, a fall,  rupturing the lung or airways, or a dog attack, can result in a collapsed lung.

  • Lung disorders: Lung disorders such as pneumonia, bronchitis, lung cancer, or lung lobe torsion can result in a collapsed lung in dogs.

  • Medical procedures: Medical operations, such as chest surgery, lung biopsy, or thoracentesis, can also cause a collapsed lung in dogs.

  • Spontaneous Pneumothorax: When the reason for a collapsed lung in a dog is unknown, it is referred to as spontaneous pneumothorax.

  • Breathing Difficulties: Anything that interferes with the dog's ability to breathe deeply and frequently, such as obesity or airway blockages, might lead to a collapsed lung.


Dog collapsed lung symptoms might vary depending on the severity of the illness. Some common pneumothorax dog symptoms are:

  • Breathing difficulties: This is the most prevalent sign of collapsed lung in dogs. Canines may exhibit indications of strained breathing or difficulty in taking deep breaths.

  • Rapid breathing: Pneumothorax dogs may breathe quicker than usual.

  • Weakness: Dogs with pneumothorax may look weak or sluggish because of the reduced oxygen flow. 

  • Coughing: Due to the accumulation of air in the pleural space, dogs who have pneumothoraxes may cough.


Pneumothorax in dogs presents with symptoms that are similar to those of other respiratory conditions, making diagnosis challenging. Your veterinarian will do a comprehensive physical examination, including listening to your dog's lungs and heartbeat while performing the exam. They could also suggest the following diagnostic tests:

  • X-rays: X-rays can assist in determining the presence of air in the pleural space and the severity of the problem.

  • Ultrasound: Ultrasound can also help identify air buildup in the pleural space.

  • Blood testing: Blood testing can help reveal any underlying health conditions that may have contributed to the pneumothorax.

Treatment and Management Options

The extent of dog pneumothorax will determine the therapy. In minor situations, your veterinarian may advise rest and close monitoring of your dog's condition. In extreme situations, however, hospitalization and emergency care may be required as follows:

  • Oxygen Therapy: Oxygen therapy may be required to assist your dog in breathing and lessen the danger of hypoxia (low oxygen levels). Your veterinarian may use a mask or nasal cannula to give oxygen.

  • Chest Tube Insertion: In severe cases of pneumothorax, a chest tube may be required to eliminate air or fluid from the pleural space and re-expand the lung.

  • Medications: Your veterinarian may recommend medications such as antibiotics or pain relievers to treat underlying causes or alleviate symptoms. Antibiotics may include Doxycycline or Clavamox, depending on the preference of your vet.

  • Surgery: In some situations, surgery may be required to repair the lung or to address underlying diseases such as lung cancer.

  • Monitoring and Follow-up: Your veterinarian will constantly monitor your dog's condition, especially if he or she needs to be hospitalized, and may prescribe follow-up sessions to ensure the lung re-expands and address the problem.

Prevention Tips

Although it might not always be feasible to stop a dog's lung from collapsing, there are certain precautions you can take to lessen the risk:

  • Avoid trauma: One of the most crucial strategies to stop a collapsed lung in dogs is to avoid damage to the chest or lungs. This includes keeping your dog on a leash when you're outside, avoiding places where accidents are likely to occur, and installing the proper fencing around your house.

  • Keep Your Dog Healthy: Maintaining your dog's general health will help lessen the chance of lung disorders that may result in a collapsed lung. This involves limiting exposure to environmental irritants like cigarette smoke, maintaining a nutritious diet, and exercising regularly.

  • Watch Your Dog's Breathing: Keep an eye on your dog's breathing and watch out for any indications of breathing problems, such as rapid or labored breathing, coughing, or wheezing. Consult a veterinarian right away if you experience any of these signs.

  • Prevent Obesity: Obesity can increase pressure on the chest and lungs, making it more difficult for your dog to breathe deeply and consistently. A healthy diet and regular exercise and playing with toys can help prevent obesity and lower the risk of a collapsed lung.

  • Be Wary of Medical Procedures: If your dog needs a medical procedure involving the chest or lungs, such as thoracentesis or chest surgery, make sure to work with a qualified veterinarian with experience in these procedures. This can lessen the possibility of complications like a collapsed lung.

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