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Fluid Found in Chest- Any Hope?
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Fluid Found in Chest- Any Hope?

A week ago our pitbull/lab Piggy began refusing to eat her dry food. Three days ago she stopped eating all together. She refused everything- her favorite canned dog food, boiled chicken, steak, etc. and had symptoms of heavy breathing, fatigue, excessive drooling/licking of the mouth, weight loss and increased urination with difficulty. The most noticeable symptom was the heavy breathing- she was not able to sleep without an ongoing hoarse sound which we had never heard her make before.

Yesterday, after she refused her morning meal, we rushed her to the vet. After the initial exam, he informed us that her temperature was high and that she had a very abnormal hoarse sound coming from her lungs. Our vet then ordered a chest x-ray and full blood work. When the chest x-ray results came out, it showed large amounts of fluid in her chest cavity surrounding her lungs. The vet informed us that statistically, most dogs with fluid in their chests have either cancer or heart disease. He suggested a chest tap which we agreed to. At the end of the visit, he discussed how he was only able to withdraw 7cc's of fluid but the amount would be enough for a lab evaluation of caner cells. He also gave Piggy a shot of antibiotics just in case she was suffering from an infection. He stated that it "couldn't hurt."    

When Piggy was finally out of the vet's, she seemed back to normal- sticking her head out the car window, tackling her favorite squeaky toy and chasing birds in our front yard. We hadn't seen her like that in weeks. But after a couple hours, she tired quickly again and still refused to eat. We took the advice of the vet, and offered her some baby food which she ate right away. This morning, she refused all food including baby food again.

My question is- is fluid in the chest always a bad sign? I've been reading countless articles and threads on pet forums concerning chest fluid but everything I've read has had a dismal ending. It's hard to stay positive when it seems that putting Piggy to sleep or constantly draining fluids from her chest seems inevitable. The vet did say that Piggy's heart rate was slightly elevated, but could very well be due to excitement and it wasn't beating abnormally. Perhaps it's not a heart disease, maybe not even cancer.. here's to hoping.

What are some of your experiences? I have become so stressed and anxious waiting by the phone- I would really love to know about a successful recovery story.
Tags: Pleural effusion, Congestive Heart Failure, chest fluid, chest tap
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9 Comments Post a Comment
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675347_tn?1365464245
Certainly the vet could prescribe diuretic drugs (unless contra-indicated for some reason) to hopefully take off some of the fluid. You could ask him about that? The side effect, of course, would be increased urination, but I'm sure that would be manageable if Piggy was more comfortable.

Then the thing is to wait for the results of the Lab tests.

If it is Congestive Heart Failure, there are also drugs which may well help with that. My dog is currently taking Benazecare, and may have to take that for the rest of her life. She doesn't have CHF but early-stage kidney failure, but the drug is used for both CHF and Kidney insufficiency, as it improves blood flow to kidneys, and for Heart Failure, reduces blood pressure and work load on the heart. There are other drugs as well to treat this condition. Again, you would need to discuss this or any other possible treatments with your vet, after the results are in.

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675347_tn?1365464245
I'm sorry, I pressed the "post a comment" button too quickly. I meant to add that these drugs also can result in restored appetite and better energy.
In the meantime, you may have to consider syringe-feeding Piggy, perhaps with something very highly nutritious, as she may be getting smaller amounts. You will need to mix the food with water so it is "syringable" and get small portions into the corner of her mouth bit by bit.
Your vet will, I am sure give you helpful advice on syringe-feeding, what best foods to use, and no doubt will be able to supply you with a needle-less syringe.
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1753249_tn?1312228631
My 8 year old Jack Russell has been on Vetoryl for almost 10 months now (we're not really sure how old he is because he was a rescue).  His dose has doubled - from 30 mg to 60 mg per day.  He is doing very well, although he has lost much of his hair and muscle mass, plus several teeth.  He is still active, likes to go on long walks, and his urination has decreased substantially (no longer peeing in the house).  We feel fortunate to have this additional time with him, since he was very ill when he was first diagnosed.  
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Avatar_m_tn
Thank you for your response. Piggy's lab tests came back and her chest fluid tested positive for cancer cells. We are devastated but fighting to stay positive for her sake, and we'll be seeing an oncologist tomorrow morning. Our vet informed us that her blood test results came back normal and that the cancer hasn't spread to her organs. There may be a growth in her chest, but it is difficult to see due to the fluid accumulation. Hopefully an ultrasound will be able to reveal what's going on. We're really just stressed out trying to figure out what kind of cancer she may have.  

The syringe feeding is a good idea- I went out and bought an XL feeding syringe today as well as a powdered herbal multivitamin that contains vitamin C and selenium. We have already tried to administer the multivitamin to her, but she continuously resists. Thanks again for your reply.

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675347_tn?1365464245
I have heard that it can be difficult to define what are called "neoplastic cells" (ie cancer cells) in Lab tests of pleural effusion samples(fluid from space surrounding lungs)
And that occasionally this can be mis-diagnosed as carcinoma of one type or another. Sometimes "reactive" cells can be confused with cancer cells. Expert analysis is therefore recommended. I don't wish to give you any type of false hope here, as the lab. techicians may have already covered this common problem. But it might be wise to double-check this with the oncologist.  
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Avatar_m_tn
I'm going through the exact same thing with my Boston. If seems nothing is factual but they assume cancer after draining lungs and ultra sound. Please inform me of yor outcome. I finally talked them in to giving her prednisone and Lasik which has made her more pepi and VERY hungrey. She has had her lungs drained twice in 3 weeks and pretty much they say I should put her down if it happens again. Something really tells me it is not cancer as they say it is and other than when her lungs get filled she looks so healthy. she did stop eating as much and got very picky about her food until she got on these meds. Now it's like she wants to eat 24/7 and she has never been this way. Please post your outcome and any info you can give would be wonderful!!
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Avatar_m_tn
Help... my rottie has fluid filling chest cavity also. Had it removed 1800 ml on left 650 on right... Four days later, 600 and 300. Emergency vets and internist don't know what the cause of the fluid is and don't know what it is.  Saying pleural effusion too and possibly cancer... NONI, an in tact 8 year old Rottweiler  has a mass on abdomen. was perfectly healthy then  boom.   But not sure. He won't eat anything. It's all happening so quickly.  Help.  Tamthetastemkr at yahoo. Been to four vets since 11/14. X-rays, blood work, etc... What caused this. What can I do to help him.  he's weak, lays down all day. Prefers cold surfaces instead of his bed.  Stands starring and breathing with difficulty until we remove fluid. Do I keep doing it.  What should he take.
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Avatar_f_tn
We have a 5 year old bullmastiff and he has fluid on lungs and they are saying the same things about cancer after they took a sample. We are going to CORNELL university to see a specialist and see what they say as we are not giving up that easy. My fiancee and I have been crying all day and night.  We love Maximus soo much.  I will keep all posted
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Avatar_f_tn
please let us know the results as I was just told the same thing today and the vet acts like oh she's old and will do nothing they couldn't get any fluid out but its there according to x ray I was wondering will diuretics help with fluid outside lungs my vet sid no please help my Maggie is all I have left at 55 and am heartbroken
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