"Hypoxemia in Dogs

"Hypoxemia in Dogs

Health & Safety

When dogs suffer from hypoxemia, it means they are not able to produce enough oxygen in their bloodstreams and as a result of this their brains are deprived of vital oxygen. Without the right levels of oxygen reaching the brain, it can lead to irreversible damage and this can happen in a relatively short period of time. Dogs often develop anaemia which can then lead to them suffering heart failure when they develop the condition. Hypoxemia in dogs is a very serious disorder that needs immediate veterinary attention for them to survive.

Symptoms Associated with the Condition

When dogs develop the condition, there are certain signs to watch out for that are associated with hypomexia which are as follows:

  • Coughing
  • Trouble breathing
  • A shortness of breath
  • Dogs breath rapidly which is referred to as tachypnea
  • They breathe through open mouths
  • Dogs have a rapid heartbeat which is referred to as tachycardia
  • Pain
  • An intolerance to exercise
  • Gagging
  • A discolouration of mucous membranes and skin
  • Collapse

The Causes

Research has established that dogs can develop the condition for several reasons which are as follows:

  • They live or are taken to high altitude regions
  • Through injury
  • A problem with their lungs
  • Pneumonia
  • Heart disease
  • Anaesthesia

Diagnosing the Condition

A vet would ideally need to have a dog's full medical history and be told how the first signs of there being something wrong first manifested themselves. The vet would thoroughly examine a dog suspected of suffering from hypoxemia and would look for the following:

  • Rapid breathing
  • Over-excited or anxious behaviour

The vet would also check a dog's body temperature to see if it is elevated. Other tests that are typically carried out which help confirm a diagnosis are as follows:

  • A complete blood count
  • X-rays
  • An endoscopy or biopsy of lung tissue

Treatment Options

Treatment options depend on the underlying cause of why a dog is suffering from the condition. However, a dog would need to be given oxygen as a matter of urgency to support their heart and lungs as well as to ensure enough oxygen reaches their brain therefore avoiding any damage to it. However, it is worth noting that often this is not enough and dogs need to be hospitalised so their condition can be closely monitored. It also means they can be given diuretics which would support a dog’s hearts and so that fluids can be administered intravenously with an end goal being to stabilise a dog’s condition as quickly as possible.


Providing the underlying cause is diagnosed and treated as a matter of urgency and dogs respond well to treatment, the prognosis is generally good. However, hypoxemia in dogs is a life threatening condition and even when a dog has been treated, they would need to be seen by a vet on a regular basis to make sure they are responding well to any treatments they have been prescribed and that the oxygen levels in their blood are remaining normal.

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