754744 tn?1233849650

Fluid in my dogs chest cavity

Hi there - not sure if anyone has had this happened to their animal...but my 9 year old Shepard Cross recently went from healthy dog to all of a sudden on the verge of dieing.

Tuesday last week.. he started moaning when he sat down.. and because with the warm weather.. we have walked him way more.. and thought maybe his joints were hurting.  

It wasn't till Friday that my hubby and I noticed him breathing heavy on his side and would start groaning when he sat down.  Finally on Sunday we decided to take Siefer to our vet nearby to see if he has an upset tummy or not.  He started having stinky farts.. which isn't abnormal for him..

So on Monday, we took him out and it went from good news 'oh nothing seems to be bugging him at all'.. and we're like 'oh thank gosh.. maybe he just has tummy problems again.. ate something wrong'.  Then she went to listen to his heart.. and could barely.  He had no fever but it was on the high end of the temperature scale.  She then insisted we do xrays... which after $400 we were hoping it was nothing.  Nope.. they could barely see his heart.. saying all the the fluid around his heart is making the xray almost seem ghostly.. his lungs have shriveled up making it the reason why he is having trouble breathing.

They done rushed us to emergency and he had to get an ultrasound done as well as withdrawing fluid to ease the pain and to test it.. with some bloodwork.  We get the results tomorrow but I'm just hoping that I go the right direction.  Everything online seems unsupported in regards to surgery due to the closeness of the heart.. and with his older age... but I just don't want to get tossed around.  It's not about money but after $1400.. i know with additonal info.. it will cost more and more... but I want him to be better not worse.  

Today he is lethargic... and I feel so bad.  My little dog.. she's 5.. knows something is up and she is worried for him.  He has had loose stool and bad gas.. I assume due to stress... and I hope.. and he's eating well...

I am so sad.. and my hubby finally broke down last night as its his dog.. they are really bonded.  We just lost my 15 year old husky last year so this seems way too close and way too fast....

Any suggestions?  Any knowledge to know if this is a few day, few weeks or few months to live?

I am just trying to be prepared.. although we never can be I guess.

Thank you in advance!
43 Responses
82861 tn?1333453911
Oh no.  It is so terribly difficult to make decisions on major surgery or other treatments when our dogs reach their senior years.  It does sound as if your dog won't last very long at all without treatment, so you are left with the unhappy choice of chancing surgery or euthanizing.  There really isn't a wrong choice in this situation.  

Exactly what sort of surgery is your vet recommending, or have I misunderstood?  Is there any alternative treatment offered to help combat the symptoms so you can buy a little more time?  Nine years old is certainly in the senior category, but if he's been in good health otherwise, it might be worth the risk.  You both would have to be prepared for losing him one way or another; the questions are "when" and "how."  You know your dog better than anyone else.  Do you think he's a fighter who can withstand major surgery?  You'll need to take recovery times and nursing care needs and costs into consideration as well.

Please let us know what happens.  Our thoughts and prayers are with you.  :-)
754744 tn?1233849650
Awww thank you Jaybay - that is super sweet note!  I'ts so much better talking to dog lovers and know the pains.

Our last dog died just recently in July 2008.. she was 15 year old husky/lab cross.. she was a trooper.. we had to euthanize her as she couldn't walk, was in pain and didn't eat (and she was a typical lab.. loved to eat no matter what!)... I feel bad as I wish we had done it sooner so she wouldn't have to suffer so much.. and could leave the world knowing all the positives.  Plus we were scarred as the vet didn't poke her right the first 3 times and she yelped in pain and my hubby and I just bawled non stop.. we did NOT have a good experience.

Now with Siefer.. he is in pain.. and I am waiting by the phone for the results of his blood test.. but researching 'fluid in chest in dogs' online.. has resulted to nothing positive or promising.  

1.  They can drain the fluid necessary but eventually scars... so they can't do it anymore.
2.  They can wrap the heart or something with something... so the chyle fluid doesn't reach the heart... but that's only has a 50% rate and then only 20% success rate.
3.  Then the other two choices are not good either.. and not proven it works.

I think if Siefer was 4 or 5.. I would definitely want to try.. money hurts obviously (it's already $1400).. but if the success rates in this (like cancer in the colon) are high.. I would dive into no problem.. they are my babies.  

I just know with such low hope... and pain for poor Siefer.. it's so miserable and not fair to him to suffer... because we want him around.

I know if JJ didn't tell us by not eating ... i woulda kept her alive becauswe I still think of them... :(

Here I am venting.. sorry...

THank you for listening and your comments Jaybay.. you are amazing.

I just don't want Siefer to go into Cardiac Arrest or stop breathing.. I hope to talk to the vet soon....
441382 tn?1452810569
In your update post you mention that there was chyle fluid in the thorax.  This would mean he has chylothorax, or, in layman's terms, there is lymphatic fluid in his chest cavity besides the other fluid.  Did the vet say what they think caused it?  Was it just idiopathic (just happened out of the blue)?  Or does the vet think it's being caused by a tumor or something blocking up the lymphatic system?  If there is something blocking the flow of the lymphatic fluid, that can be corrected.  If it's idiopathic, the condition can be managed medically.  

Managing a condition like this medically means that when the dog is experiencing discomfort, the fluid can be drained from the chest cavity, which will make him more comfortable again.  Ask your vet about a supplement called "Rutin".  Rutin is available in health food stores and it helps greatly to reduce the production of chyle and it also carries away the fat in the chyle fluid.  Keeping your dog on a low fat diet will help a lot while you are going through this as well.  Often, the combination of the draining of the chest fluid, the use of the Rutin and the low fat diet will help the condition to resolve.  

Talk to your vet about it.  Ask as many questions as you need to until you are satisfied.  If you feel that your vet is not answering your questions to your satisfaction, get a second opinion.  Please keep us posted as to how your dog is doing.  Good luck!

82861 tn?1333453911
Hooray!  I was hoping ghilly would weigh in here.  Hopefully all is not yet lost.  :-)
754744 tn?1233849650
wow Ghilly!  Thanks so much *hugs*

My vet has yet still to call us with the results.  I will call him in a bit.  We are assuming that it is Chylothorax and judging by the posts surrounding this, it seems like only major surgery can heal this.

However reading what you said.. with draining of the fluid and medication.. maybe it will go away?  

They drained it the first time and he still is uncomfortable... but I heard with prolonged draining... scarring tissue forms.

As for Rutin.. I heard it works temporarily until the body isn't transferring the fat to the dog and then works against his body and he gets malnutritioned.

This seemed to happen just last week.... however hubby said a few months back, when Siefer jumped on our bed and laid down, he'd groan.. but I only remembered that vaguely.

It is like you said, chyle fluid in his chest cavity.  They didn't see cancerous cells around his heard (they were thinking heart cancer)... but now they are testing the fluid for cancerous cells - leading to what you have noted, as a tumor blockage..

He is currently, with my other dog, on a raw food diet.

I also added Omega 3 to his diet.. hopefully that hasn't added to his fat ...

Thanks so much for the hopeful post..it's the most positive thing I have heard.

Jaybay thanks for the support too.. you guys are awesome.
754744 tn?1233849650
Hi Jaybay and Ghilly,

Just called my vet.. he said the tests he did weren't clear.. and needs a cat scan done and more fluid withdrawn.

At this point, he said there were no cancer cells however there is some abnormal cells.

He then went on to say everything that Ghilly said above.. about the Rutin and the low fat diet to support and maybe releasing the fluid every few weeks.

I asked him how long he expects him to live.. and he said he doesn't know obviously, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.. he said most of the time it's the owners that find it bothersome then the dog not taking it well.

He says it'll only work of course if it's non cancerous.. and he can't confirm if it's cancer till we take a catscan.

So I talked to hubby... and we said.. well what if we did the catscan to find cancer.. then what??  Would it be worth it... obviously  not to sound rude.. that it's about money.. but if we did find cancer, we promised we wouldn't put him through the pain surgery and then have to rebound to heal.. and the chance of it not succeeding completely as the cancer would be located in his main organs.. not colon.

We talked that yeah, we'd spend thousands on getting him back to 100% however will it?  He is 9 years old... am I doing it just to keep him around longer.. and is it in his best interest?

I know if he was 4 or 5... there is no doubt we would try everything we could.. but even then.. if it was cancer in the organs.. besides chemo.. what else could we do... and that really lessens their quality of life.

Dogs live in the now and I'd hate to decrease his life quality....

I'm not sure what you girls think...

I think we might progress with the RUtin.. and take him off raw food (he told us not to put him on raw food but low fat vet food.. bleh...) and then they can withdrawn the fluid from him if need be...

I don't know.. I think it's the best idea.. but then again i'm so hesistant too... :(  I hate making decisions...

Thanks for listening.. any advice or outlook (since you both seem to be experienced dog lovers).. that would aid in my thought progression, please!

THank you!
754744 tn?1233849650
Also... still bugging me i need the vet food for low fat.. if i went out to buy some lean meats for Siefer coupled with some other low fat items.. wouldn't that be low fat enough???  or does Low Fat food in kibble form contain something special...

I just hate to go back to dry kibble when we all know that it's what causes most of the problems in our dogs in the first place...

and now bugs me even more that he's pushing it as the only way for him to eat... how can processed food be better then the real thing??
82861 tn?1333453911
Your mind works the same way mine does - I feel for you.  There are so many "what if's" to consider, and don't appologize for also considering the financial aspects of treatment.  It's just a nasty part of any medical decision not only for our pets, but ourselves.

I couldn't swear to it, but I suspect that your vet wants you to avoid raw food because any infection could be fatal at this point.  One little salmonella bacteria would carry you dog off, so it's best to err on the safe side with a high quality commercial food.  Another option would be a homemade diet that is cooked.  Your vet should be able to give you some recipes to try.

One thing that caught my eye in your update is that your vet thinks fluid drainage is necessary only every few weeks.  That is good news!  I was thinking it was going to be every few days, which isn't a good option in my book - for you or the dog.  The way I see it, the CT scan is to determine the presence of a tumor.  You don't yet know if it's malignant or benign.  Will that answer change your opinion on surgery?  I agree with you that treating a malignancy in a dog this age isn't a good idea; but if there IS a mass and it's benign it might be worth the surgery risk.

These decisions don't need to be made today.  Go ahead and treat it medically for a few weeks and see how things go.  I also think a vitamin supplement would be a good thing to add to prevent any nutritional deficiencies from a homemade or even a prescription diet.  That was a problem for my dog who died of kidney failure.  So many foods were off the diet list due to high phosphorus content, that I made her food myself and added a no-phosphorus vitamin pill to help make up the difference.  It wasn't easy finding those vitamins either!

Certainly your dog is very ill right now, but this needn't be the end just yet.  All you can do is keep him as happy and comfortable as you can for as long as possible, and isn't that what we do every day?  With Chica's kidney failure, it started as a month-to-month thing; then week-to-week; and finally day-to-day.  The nursing requirements built up slowly and by the end it was all-consuming.  I honestly didn't realize how much of my time was spent in nursing her until it was over.  Like I said earlier, there really isn't a "wrong" decision here.  Let your conscience and your dog be your guide.  I have every faith that whatever you do will be the right thing.  :-)
441382 tn?1452810569
*IF* you can afford to have the CT scan done, I would do it to see if you're dealing with cancer.  If it's cancer, I would probably decide not to pursue treatment as it would only prolong the discomfort with no hope of resolution.  BUT, if it's not cancer, I would go ahead with the treatments and see how things go for a while.  If you start to see positive changes, then you'll know that chances are you're going to get somewhere with it.  Your dog will tell you how things are going.  I wouldn't do anything drastic right away, though.  See how things go for a bit.

754744 tn?1233849650
Hi Ghilly and Jaybay.. sorry been MIA but I wanted to take the opportunity to thank you both for your support and your knowledge.  Jaybay you gave me great emotional support when I needed it, coming from a dog lover.. and Ghilly, you gave me unbiased truthful support that turned out to be the best opinion.

We went to two vets and we found a lady, Dr. Amelia Falk who was super sweet.  

As you noted Ghilly, hubby and I also decided, if it was cancer, we wouldn't proceed with the procedure.. the stats aren't too promising.

Today we took Siefer in for a 2nd fluid removal.. however she wasn't able to get much out.  She did say it might be due to her lack of expertise.. but during the ultrasound she saw a litre worth of fluid (Last week they took out 2 litres).. yikes.  She spent the time to discuss the situation.. I appreciated it a lot.  She said I could go back to the hopsital and have some removed but it will just persist.  

She noted, that if it wasn't cancer, the Rutin he's been on and the drainage from the first time, that the litre that just filled up wouldn't be so drastic.

Plus, he is starting to gurgle when he breathes.. so unfortunately, we have to come to a decision.

Although I'd love to remove the liquid every week or so.. it's not making his life any better and I honestly am keeping him around just for my sake.  His internal organs aren't benefitting the fluid in his chest.. and he's not enjoyingmeals so much.. I think after he eats he wants to puke due to the congestion in there...

So.. tomorrow is most likely the day it will have to happen.  We are having a final Siefer walk tonight with some friends.  We will have to leave on a good note.

Thank you both so much.
82861 tn?1333453911
My eyes are filling with tears on behalf of you and Siefer.  My own loss from last January is still too fresh for my liking, so I have a good idea of how you must be feeling right now.  I agree that you're making the right decision - as terribly difficult as it is.

One thing that helped a great deal with Chica last year was sedating her before we took her to the vet for the last time.  You might ask your vet to give you some pills to sedate Siefer before you leave the house.  The last thing Chica knew was being held and stroked on her favorite couch.  We had to carry her out to the car for her last ride.

You are all in my thoughts and prayers tonight.  Know that you aren't alone, and if you need to talk about anything we are all here for you.  God bless.
441382 tn?1452810569
I am so sorry that you have had to make this most difficult decision.  I admire your strength and ability to put Siefer's comfort before your own emotions.  

When you began your relationship with Siefer, by opening your home and heart to him you made him an unspoken promise to take care of him, to always be there for him, to never let him go hungry, and to never let him suffer when there was no hope of recovery.  We all make these promises to our pets when we begin our lives with them as members of the family.  You are keeping the final promise that you made to Siefer; to never let him suffer when there is no hope of recovery.  It's the ultimate act of love, and it hurts more than anything you will ever have to do, but it shows just how much you love him that you are willing to let him go so that he does not suffer.   God Bless You for that.

If you need anyone to talk to, my mailbox is always open.  My thoughts and prayers are with you.  


Avatar universal
Hi Gilly. Have been reading this thread on poor Siefer and it's breaking my heart. This is always the hardest part of having a pet....saying goodbye.
441382 tn?1452810569
Hi Silky   :)    Welcome!

You're right.  The most difficult part of having a pet is saying goodbye.  No matter how long they are with us, it's never long enough.  My heart goes out to Siefer's owners.  

754744 tn?1233849650
Jaybay - thank you for your great support - you seem to always say the sweetest and sincere comments - thank you so much.  It's almost like you all here at the forum were sent from above - because it's the best support I have received.  I am sorry to hear about your Chica... *hugs* maybe Siefer will find her in Doggie heaven!!  This time it wasn't so bad.. last year our 15 year old Husky JJ - well the vet missed 4 times on her vein and the look on her face still scars me!!  She left in pain, distress and hungry I bet.  That's why this time with Siefer.. I wanted to give him the best ever - here is the link to his pictures of his Farewell party we had for him.


With JJ we waited too long due to my selfishness of having her around.. she didn't walk, defacated on herself, wouldn't eat her FAVORITE foods.. and in so much pain... then to have the vet poke her so many times with that needle and her yelping (she NEVER yelps)... to this day it still breaks my heart.  She visits in my dreams often... which is weird as Siefer has yet to visit me.

My hubby is NOT taking things well tho.  Although my dog before he met me.. him and Siefer bonded like you wouldn't believe.  He is a tough guy but broke down the night before the vet, at the vet (I did too) and then the rest of the night including the next morning.. crying and just crying.  I feel so bad for him .. so keeping strong for him.

Ghilly - how great to have you with your loads of information and knowlege - it's so great to get insights into dogs from a dog lover.. we are all so blessed to have you here.  I intend to stay on this forum when time allows to help others like you guys have helped me.

Silkytee - thank you for your kind words... it is the worse part of having a pet.. but the pain we feel equals to all the love they gave us :)  So everytime my heart aches or I get teary eyed.. I think of all the happy times... and it makes me smile and giggle too :)

Love you all - I'm not even religious and I just feel so blessed to have found you guys.

Hope you enjoy the pictures and have a great valentines!
82861 tn?1333453911
If nothing else, I'm glad you found support here.  It's not easy seeing a grown man cry, is it?  My husband has the same kind of bond with Maggie, and whenever her time comes it's going to be horrific - for both of us.  

I LOVE this quote:  the pain we feel equals to all the love they gave us.  That really says it all.  :-)
441382 tn?1452810569
Thanks SO much for sharing the pics with us.  My heart broke for you having to make the awful decision to put Siefer to sleep.  How I wish I could have given you a real hug instead of a virtual one.  Siefer was a lucky boy to have had such a wonderful family.  I'm so glad that you've decided to stay around here with us!  

770384 tn?1235054164
my dog had fluid around her heart but then it went away and then she started breathing abnormal so we took her to the vet and since there was too much fluid we had to choices to extract the fluid but it would just keep coming back or put her down and we put her down she was only six i miss her so much she died yesterday i hope the same thing wont happen to u :(
Avatar universal
My dog also had fluid in his chest, plus diarrhea, weight loss and dull hair.  The vet gave him lasix to drain the fluid and it worked very well in the first week, but then the water comes back in the second week..

X-ray couldn't show his lung and heart at all..vet suggested CT scan, because he believes 99% chance of cancer in the chest.  

Billy still has very good appetite and wants to play (but lack of strength)...
754744 tn?1233849650
Oh Maggie - that is horrible - I'm sorry for your loss.  I didn't realize this was so common because the vets kept telling me it rarely happens - but I sometimes think that he did that just to squeeze all the money he could out of me.

With Chylothorax - seems to be only two kinds, the idiopathic kind, which is non cancerous and with supplement treatment - and drainage eventually goes away - but that seems to only be successful in cats?

Than there is the cancerous one, that even the surgery alone, seems high risk, only 50% chance... due to the location.. so close to the heart/lungs.

That was under my understanding.  As sad as it sounds Maggie, the chances are so slim, and it's a tough choice, but our puppies are no longer suffering.  I can't imagine feeling the way they do.

RoyalMaki - your situation sounds just like mine.  Siefer started getting diahrea, losing weight, breathing heavy and then his hair definitely went from super super shiny to dull and flakey.  The fluid comes back super quick, the first time they drained 2 litres from his chest... that is so much :(.  He too ate quite well but you could tell he couldn't stomach it as much as before.  He also loves to go offleash and chase his stick (you can see the pictures above) - but can't last long as before... breaks my heart.

Dogs have extreme pain threshold.... sometimes I wish they can talk.

As the week went on for Siefer.. his breathing got heavier.. he couldn't sleep through the night.. always moaning and moving due to the fluid pressure.. and on top... the last two days before his last day.. there were gurgling sounds when he breathed and I know that is NOT a good sign.

Although his last day was full of yummies and playtime.. I still miss him tons.

If you need to talk, I'm here for you.

If you do have the money to go ahead with the CT Scan, you can do it... but this is what hubby and I talked about... if the supplements didn't work and the draining keeps coming back AND the CT Scan revealed cancer.. would I be able to put Siefer through a 50% surgery to remove the cancerous cells or Chemo?

Depending on the age of your dog RoyalMaki - I think they will be blessed with whatever choice you make :)  I know you will make it for the for your puppy!

Avatar universal
Billy is a 9-year-old doxie. In fact, he will be 10 next month.

Billy has an vet appointment tomorrow for chest x-ray again... but the lasix seems not working well since 2 days ago, and the fluid came back so fast (faster than I can imagine)... I am still struggle whether to go or not...if the x-ray comes out to be not clear again: waste money and billy has to suffer; if the x-ray comes out clear and find the mass, I don't think I will let Billy take the risk for an open chest operation!  But if I just sit at home with him, his situation for sure won't get better unless miracle happens..
754744 tn?1233849650
Hi Royal Maki,

I know it's tough - Siefer too turned 9 in March.. well would have.. so due to age - I didn't want him to suffer.

You will do best for Billy and you love him so much which is a gift in itself.  Not sure if you saw my pics above... but I threw a farewelll party for Siefer the day before his time.. and he had so much fun.

The fluid in the chest is so horrible... and I know what you are going through and sense your pain and heartache... as my vet said, it's almost like drowning...

I know the choices you have to make are super tough, and you are right, unless a miracle happens, there is no point in spending money.. but it isn't about money I know..

I wish you all the best and hugs through this tough time and multiple hugs to Billy!!
Avatar universal
Sun_sh1ne, thanks for the support.  I will let Billy enjoy the time with us.  I decided not to take him to the vet anymore; he took the x-ray again yesterday, but nothing wrong shown another than the fluid pushing his lung aside.  

The cause is not important as I know it's not treatable or too big of a price to treat, so I rather Billy has good quality of life.
Avatar universal
For everyone's interest, I have just uploaded a few pictures of Billy in my Profile, and they can be viewed by "everyone".  This is my 9-yr-old boy!
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