Signs of Water in the Lungs for Dogs

Updated April 17, 2017

If your dog has water in the lungs, this can be a serious problem. It may be a sign of pneumonia or other medical conditions, or it could be that your dog ingested water in its lungs while swimming. Whatever the cause, fluid in the lungs--also called pulmonary oedema--can affect the dog's breathing and respiratory system. It is important to pay close attention to your dog's breathing function to determine if something is wrong.

Dry Cough

A dog with water in the lungs may exhibit a dry cough. A dry cough is a cough where mucus is not being produced and often sounds more harsh than a productive cough. If the dog is coughing but produces mucus or other fluids, they likely don't have fluid in their lungs, but this could indicate something else and should be given medical attention. There are other possible reasons for a dry cough, so the coughing should be addressed by a veterinarian to determine the cause.


Wheezing is often heard as a harsh whistling sound. It can be continuous or broken up. Wheezing often indicates that there is something blocking the airways. If your dog is wheezing, he may have fluid in his lungs, but there could be other problems as well. It is important to see a vet if your dog is wheezing.

Crackling Noises

Fluid in the lungs will sometimes cause crackling noises when your dog is breathing. Think of something similar to what you would hear while popping packing bubbles. This noise is caused by the water gurgling in the lungs. If you hear this noise while your dog is breathing, it is important to get her to a vet immediately before the condition worsens and the dog is unable to breathe at all.

Difficulty Breathing

Along with all the other signs, you should watch for difficulty in breathing in general. If your dog becomes winded easily and even seems to have laboured breathing while he is resting, he could have fluid in his lungs. Constant breathing through the mouth is another sign of laboured breathing. Any problems with breathing should be checked out by a vet because this could indicate a number of health issues.

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