Pneumothorax in Dogs
Once the breathing does start to become limited your dog’s lips will begin to turn blue

Pneumothorax in dogs can cause an increased respiratory rate, difficulty in breathing, as well as a slow or very sudden intolerance for any type of exercise.

If it is severe enough, it can also cause cyanotic appearances, or blue coloration, on the gums and tongue in your dog.

The most common development will be sudden difficulty in breathing, especially when your dog tries to inhale.

This very dangerous condition may be the result of a bite or a wound that has occurred as the result of an accident and it comes in five different forms.

Whatever the form is, if it is left untreated, it can be fatal to your dog.


Pneumothorax in dogs is the presence of air within their chest cavity; however, this air is outside of the lungs.

When everything in your dog’s respiratory system if operating properly, the chest area that surrounds your dog’s lungs act as a vacuum.

Canaan dogsIf you suspect Pneumothorax in dogs quickly check their lips

When it preforms it job properly, it allows the lungs to expand very easily when your dog breaths in, or inhales.

However, when something goes wrong, unwanted air can enter into the lungs in two different manners.

Either from a puncture wound or by a severe traumatic occurrence and this can result in an internal or an external leak.

If the injury that your dog has incurred is a puncture wound of some type, the chest wall as well as the skin surrounding it will allow air to be drawn into this vacuum.

If it is a traumatic experience such as a fracture to your dog’s ribs, it can puncture the lung tissues and this allows the air to leak from their lungs into the vacuum, or the surrounding chest area.

Once there is a presence of air in this vacuum, it excerpts pressure on the lungs and they will not be able to expand and contract properly.

They may also start to collapse to some degree, making the process even more difficult.

In most all cases, once your dog has developed this condition, they will have to be hospitalized.

Pneumothorax in dogs comes into five different forms or categories: open, closed, tension, spontaneous, and traumatic.

When pneumothorax in dogs is considered open, it is the result of a penetrating wound that will allow outside air to enter into the pleural space, or the vacuum.

If it is closed, there has been some type of an injury that will not allow air to into the vacuum.

If it is the tension form, air will fill the chest cavity with each breath your dog takes, however, it is not allowed to exit.

This becomes a very dangerous situation as it is now a one way valve effect that is occurring.

If it is considered to be spontaneous pneumothorax in dogs, something has unexpected occurred in your dog’s respiratory system as it is not the result of any type of wound or trauma.

If it is the traumatic form, it has defiantly been caused by a serious type of trauma or accident.


Pneumothorax in dogs will show you some very distinctive symptoms and the first is almost always a difficulty in breathing.

You may not notice it at first, but you will see that something is just not right with your dog.

They will appear to be only half breathing, and in reality, that is exactly what is occurring.

They can exhale, but they are having a very difficult time in inhaling, and as a result, you will see that they are now breathing in a very rapid but very shallow breathing rhythm.

To illustrate it even further, it is exactly the same way that you feel if you have ever had a chest injury or overextended yourself and now have become very sore in your chest area.

It is difficult to breathe.

The same thing is occurring to your dog, but there is one major difference; it is not going to go away after a few days.

In fact, if their breathing becomes severely limited, your dog’s gums, tongue, as well as their lips will slowly start to turn a bluish color.

If the injuries have been very damaging to your dog, their lungs may actually be exposed, which is extremely dangerous.

However, there is also one other very telling sign that you can watch for; sternal recumbency.

This is a term that is given when your dog will deliberately lie in an upright position on their sternum.

They are doing this for one reason; it makes it easier for them to breathe.


Pneumothorax in dogs has several potential causes, but the most common is perforation of their chest wall.

This can be the result of a bite wound from another dog or animal, a fall of some type, being hit by a car, or some type of a stab wound.

It may also be the result of a rupture that has occurred in their bronchus, which is their main airway, or the trachea, which is their windpipe.

It may also be the result of some type of a rupture to your dog’s esophagus or their lung tissue itself, as well as damage to their mediastinum.

The mediastinum in your dog is the area that is the confined space within their chest cavity, but it is totally separate or independent of their lungs.

However, if your dog is older, there are also other potential causes. It may be the result of a rupture in the lung itself, or the result of a bullae or bleb.

Bullae are a cyst like substances or structures within your dog’s lungs, and a bleb is a very small cyst like structure that affects the outer surface of your dog’s lungs.

Both of these would fall into the spontaneous pneumothorax category, as it is the result of something unexpected.


There are several very successful treatments for pneumothorax in dogs, and in most every case they will require hospitalization.

Any dog that is showing signs of difficulty in breathing will immediately be given oxygen.

If the pneumothorax is deemed to be very mild by your veterinarian, this may be the only form of treatment that is needed.

Your dog’s body and their immune system are very powerful if it is properly supplemented by diet and nutrients, and can very easily heal itself in mild cases.

However, if moderate to large amounts of air has been allowed into this vacuum, a chest tube may be utilized.

This allows for the larger amounts of air two be moved out in two different ways; quickly and continuously.

These tubes are usually aspirated every few hours or continually, depending on the amount of air that has entered into the chest cavity.

These tubes may also have to be used after surgery, which is will have to be done if the tubes are not successful after the first 48 hours.

Surgery may also have to be performed if the chest damage has been quite severe.

As with any type of surgery, it can be quite expensive and if you do not have insurance, you may have a very difficult decision to make if the tubes are not successful.


Pneumothorax in dogs can be very mild or it can be a life threatening situation.

If you see your dog suddenly taking very small breaths and not lying down naturally, do not ignore it.

In most cases you will be aware that some type of trauma has affected your dog, but in some cases you may not.

But this is one condition that you cannot place on hold, as your dog can not survive it without treatment.

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