Cyanosis in dogs is a very dangerous and potentially life threatening condition.
It will show two very distinctive symptoms, and as soon as you see them, it should be treated with an extreme sense of urgency.
It also comes in two different forms or types, and has an exhaustive list of potential causes and all of them are very dangerous.
This is definitely not a condition that can be ignored.
Cyanosis in dogs is a situation where the skin as well as the mucous membranes will slowly start to turn a light blue or purple.
As it advances in severity, so will the intensity of this coloration change.
The reason this coloration change is taking place is due to excessive amounts of hemoglobin that is poorly oxygenated in the blood circulation of your dog.
At first glance, it can easily be confused with anemia, but the symptoms are much broader than anemia, and have two very distinctive characteristics.
The first sign will be a bluish-purple coloration of your dog’s tongue, gums and lips, as well as any portions of the skin where the blood vessels are superficial or close to the skin.
The second characteristic or symptom is this exact same coloration occurring in another part of your dog’s body; their foot pads.
If there is any doubt in your mind that this may be anemia, the fact that it affects large areas of their skin as well as their foot pads should end the speculation very quickly,
It has several potential underlying causes but they will all have one thing in common; they are affecting your dog’s hemoglobin.
Whatever the actual cause is, it is creating very abnormal forms of hemoglobin, and as a result, they cannot bind oxygen properly in your dog’s bloodstream.
If your dog’s blood is oxygenated properly and everything is normal, it will be red.
If it is not, it will be a dark blue in color and the more deoxygenated it is, the more this bluish-purplish tint will affect your dog tissues.
Cyanosis in dogs comes in two different forms or type; central and peripheral.
When it is considered to be central in your dog, it is the result of the entire blood supply in their system being desaturated.
When the oxygen saturation is normal, the extent to which the blood actually becomes desaturated as it flows through the skin all depends of the rate of blood flow in your dog.
If the blood flow is sluggish, it becomes even more desaturated.
The central form of cyanosis is the result of a decrease in this process and affects their entire blood circulation.
There are several potential causes of central cyanosis in dogs and they all center on the heart.
The first potential cause is congenital heart disease and affects younger dogs or puppies, or it may also be the result of a condition referred to as Tetralogy of Fallot.
This is not a well-known condition, but it is also congenital and is a malformation of the heart that is characterized by a defect in the ventricular septum.
It also involves the aorta, narrowing of the pulmonary artery, as well as enlargement of the right ventricle of your dog’s heart.
It can also be the result of a ventricle defect which is better known as a hole in the heart.
The peripheral form is caused by the exact same process; however, it is confined to a specific part of your dog’s body.
An example of this is placing a tourniquet on your dog’s leg, and as a result, it affects the flow of blood to just that leg.
Any dog that has central cyanosis will also have the peripheral form, simply because their entire bloodstream is affected.
However, peripheral cyanosis in dogs can occur without having the central form.
The most common cause of this occurring would be a blood clot that is stopping the flow of blood to a specific part of your dog body.
However, if your dog is still very young or a puppy, it is generally the result of what is referred to as right to left shunting in their heart.
This is the result of an inherited or congenital heart disease that causes poorly oxygenated blood.
When this is present, this poor blood supply that is returned to the heart bypasses the lungs and is sent directly back out into your dog’s system.
When it misses the lungs, it does not pick up the much needed additional oxygen.
However, any dog can develop cyanosis as a secondary condition to any type of serious lung disease such as pneumonia or as the result of a fluid buildup in their chest.
The potential causes of peripheral cyanosis in dogs include any of the causes that result in the central form, as well as hypothermia and thromboembolism.
Hypothermia is a very low body temperature that will constrict the blood vessels in your dog’s skin, and thromboembolism is known by a much more common name; blood clots.
If your dog experiences any type of shock by a traumatic accident, it can also cause peripheral cyanosis.
There are two other potential causes of cyanosis in dogs; some type of a lung infection or disorder, or chemical reactions.
If your dog starts to hyperventilate and as a result cannot breathe properly, it can also trigger this condition.
A respiratory muscle failure, a diaphragmatic hernia, an airway obstruction, or paralysis of your dog’s larynx can also very easily cause this condition.
However, this is only the beginning of the potential lung problems that can trigger cyanosis.
It may also be the result of a tumor, an abscess, or what is referred to as a ventilation-perfusion mismatch.
This is a condition where two things occur; an improper supply of blood to the lungs, or an improper function of the lungs.
It can also be the result of blood or lymphatic fluids entering into your dog’s lungs, as well as edema, which is an infiltration of your dog’s lung tissues with fluid.
There are also some chemicals that can cause your dog’s hemoglobin to become non-functional. These include nitrates, Tylenol, as well as topical benzocaine.
Cyanosis in dogs is an extremely serious condition that can very easy be confused with anemia at first glance. Anemia is also serious, but it is not in the same ballpark as cyanosis.
If there is any doubt in your mind and you see the blue and purple discoloration occurring in your dog, quickly check their footpads.
If they are also turning this color, treat it as an emergency and seek professional help as quickly as possible.