Low Blood Oxygen in Dogs

Hypoxemia in Dogs

When the brain is deprived of oxygen, irreversible damage may be the result, even when the deprivation has been for a short period of time. Oxygen deficiency may also lead to anemia in the organs, which can progress to arrhythmia and heart failure. Hypoxemia occurs when arterial blood is not being oxygenated sufficiently. This is a serious condition and needs to be treated quickly.

Symptoms and Types 

  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid breathing (tachypnea)
  • Open-mouthed breathing
  • Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia)
  • Pain
  • Gagging
  • Unable to endure exercise (exercise intolerance)
  • Discoloration of skin and mucous membranes
  • Collapse


  • High elevation
  • Injury
  • Pneumonia
  • Disease of the lining of the lungs
  • Anesthesia
  • Heart disease
  • Lung disease
  • Lung or heart disease in elderly animals


Your veterinarian will be looking for rapid breathing, over-excitement, and anxious behavior in your dog. You will need to give your veterinarian a thorough history of your dog’s health, including a background history of symptoms, and any possible incidents that might have led to this condition. The more details you can provide, the better able your doctor will be to determine which organs are being affected by the lack of oxygen. The veterinarian will also check for an elevated body temperature, and will examine your dog for any head injuries. Blood samples from specific areas will be drawn; blood gas analyzers may be also used to make measuring more convenient.

In addition, X-rays and echocardiograms can be used to rule out lung and heart disease as the cause of the oxygen deficiency in the blood. If the cause cannot be determined using any of these methods, an endoscopy or biopsy of the lung may be performed.


A medical condition in which the patient has an abnormally fast heartbeat


The term for a quick heartbeat


The term for the nostrils and muscles in the upper and lower lips of an animal; may also be used to describe a type of tool used to keep an animal from biting


Movement of material from an area highly concentrated to an area where there is a lower concentration


The process of removing tissue to examine it, usually for medical reasons.


A condition of the blood in which normal red blood cell counts or hemoglobin are lacking.

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