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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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15 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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Avatar f tn
I see all these comments in her say fluid in abdomen and chest and vet suggest cancer
. I was told the very same thing aboit my almost 2 year old mix pup. Has anyone actually challenged them to see if it is? I cannot afford cancer treatment but I would like to know if this is legit or if they are quessing. Any feedback is appreciate
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Avatar f tn
My 10 year old Beagle went to vet with cough. Only symptom. She eats normally, drinks normally, BMs are normal, etc. we did xray and xray found fluid around lungs and heart. Not once did our vet mention cancer. He thinks it's pneumonia or bronchitis, maybe congestive heart failure. He also asked about HW but she is on preventatives and has never missed a month and tested negative in October. He gave her a diuretic injection plus diuretic pills, heart meds, and antibiotics (she has no fever but he said just in case). We will go back for another xray in a week and a half. Never once did he suggest cancer at our visit.  
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Avatar m tn
Milo.. Our 11 year old beloved Cocker Spaniel was diagnosed with a 2X3 cm mass in his right lung.. Called a primary tumor our vet suggested we could surgically remove all of his cancer and he could live another year or even more if we are lucky..  After failing to reach a biopsy of the mass in the lung they located a small amount of fluid.. Now they are suggesting he will only live another month or two and removal of the tumor won't benefit him. Still waiting for the fluid biopsy, I'm not sure there are any definitive answers yet and its frustrating to have hope and then have hope taken away..  
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Avatar f tn
I'm typing this incase anyone currently or in the future experiences this as I see most of these posts are old.

I had a 4yr old blue nose PITBULL love of my life and she had the Samething fluid around her lungs in her chest cavity medical term "Pleural Effusion" she was perfectly healthy and ironically on paper remained a healthy dog except for this fluid I had to drain from her body weekly. She stopped eating too and the reason why is an animal that can't breathe will choose to breathe vs eating is what my vet told me. Along with the fluid in her body she had extreme Edema so my vet put her on a very high dose of Lasix which did helped a lot with her Edema and may have slowed down her lungs filling up but in actuality not by much. This all started after she was attacked by another dog and severely injured. All I can tell you is what I know and experienced "Pleural Effusion" is a secondary condition caused by heart failure, Cancer, Fungal infection, tumor, trauma or unknown. In my case I believe it was trauma. I took her to many vets/specialists did many tests and they were able to rule out all the above which left medically "unknown". After 2 months of trying to cure her watching her go from a healthy 65 lbs to a scary 52 lbs I decided to put her down. If you can treat the underlying cause you can stop the fluid but then that means your dog as either Cancer, heart failure or a tumor which aren't good things to have either. So unfortunately spend as much time as you can with your dog you'll know when it's time. I hope there's more info in the future or studies to be done to find a way to cure this condition.
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Avatar m tn
We have a lab and also a blue nose pitty.. So VERY sorry for the loss of your precious baby but you did the most courageous thing ever by letting her go and not suffer.  They don't deserve to suffer a single day. We are having a tough time with our Lab right now. She had a test for Cushings today and had a bad reaction. Watching her through the night and praying it's okay in the morning. It's been a tough day and a scary one.
Our blue nose brindle pitty is 2.  They own our hearts. You are in my thoughts. Our dogs are our world. Your baby will always live in your heart.
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Avatar f tn
Our dog, 12 years old and started at 26 lbs (now down to 18 lbs), was recently diagnosed with cancer (mesothelioma).  We noticed that she was not breathing well and had a cough and took her in to our regular vet to get checked out.  They did x-rays and a blood panel and saw a mass in her chest and that her white blood cell count was high and that she had a fever.  They assumed it was was a chest infection and that the mass was an abscess from the chest infection.  They prescribed Clavamox and prednisone for her.  After a week, we were done with the Clavamox and started weaning her off the prednisone and noticed that her breathing had gotten worse.  We called our vet and they said it was because she was weaning off the drug.  We monitored her for another couple of days and by this point, she was barely breathing that we took her too the emergency vet at 4 am.  They x-rayed her again and said her chest was so full of fluid they couldn't even see her heart. They said she had a pleural effusion. They drained 800 cc's of fluid from her chest. They then sent her to our regular vet for further examination. Our vet sent her to a specialist in Tampa to get diagnosed. The did cytology and an ultrasound and more X-rays and determined it was mesothelioma. They drained another 300 cc's from her chest. This was all in the same day. She was able to come home that night (Monday) but by Friday, she was having trouble breathing again so we took her back to the specialist.  They drained another 500 cc's from her chest.  Because it was filling up with fluid so quickly, we decided to put a pleural port in her side so they could easily access her chest cavity to drain it.  We also decided to pursue chemo to see if it would have any success with her.  They said it could give her another 3-6 months.  They kept her overnight from Fri to Sat to perform the surgery to put in the pleural port.  On Sat morning, they drained another 420 cc's.  We were able to bring her home on Sat and had an appt scheduled with oncology to start her chemo treatment on Monday.  We noticed between Sat when we brought her home and Monday, that she was starting to have difficulty breathing again.  On Monday, they drew another 700 cc's of fluid and then gave her chemo, 1/2 intravenously, 1/2 intra-cavity.  We brought her home afterwards and she was perky and had more pep in her step and was eating more than she had in weeks.  We had read the chemo in dogs was not bad for them as they did not usually feel the side effects humans normally did.  Then, that night, she started having trouble breathing again.  We took her back to oncology the next morning.  The drew another 500 cc's of fluid from her chest (part of it was the chemo but not much).  We brought her home again to monitor her and by night, she was breathing heavy again.  They said the chemo would slow down the fluid build up but we needed to give it a chance to work but the fluid right now was building up too quickly for the chemo to take effect yet.  We took her again that night (tonight) to draw another 400 cc's of fluid.  I will be calling oncology tomorrow to find out what our options are now with the fluid building up so quickly and exponentially.  The specialist is over an hour away so maybe they can teach us to draw out the fluid ourselves if it is this often.  We don't mind doing the drive or drawing out the fluid ourselves if it means that the chemo will start working soon and will slow down the fluid build up so she will remain comfortable.  When the fluid is not in her chest, she is doing well.  We just want her to be comfortable and happy and have some more time left with us.  But with the fluid build up being so rapid, it's difficult to keep up with it in order for the chemo to start working.  Will know more once we discuss our options with the Dr tomorrow.
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