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Altitude Sickness in Canines

Recognizing Altitude Sickness in Canines:

Altitude sickness in dogs may be an issue in some pets and may manifest when the dog is above 8,000 feet (2,400) above sea level.  Not all dogs suffer from altitude sickness, and this problem is only an issue if the dog needs to climb mountains or fly.  Altitude sickness can create fatal problems (i.e. pulmonary edema), so the problem needs to be addressed if noticed.

Symptoms of Altitude Sickness in Canines

The symptoms of altitude sickness are mainly due to the fact that dogs get dehydrated and is unable to breathe normally.  The symptoms of altitude sickness in dogs may include:

  • Panting
  • Excessive drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Pale gums
  • Bleeding from nose or retina (Only in extreme cases)
  • Increased heart rate
  • Dry cough
  • Swelling of feet and possibly face
  • Sudden collapse
  • Ataxia
  • Fever
  • Lack of coordination
  • Lethargy and refusal to move

The symptoms may vary and may be less severe, depending on sensitivity of the dog. If the ascent has been gradual the dog may have fewer symptoms.

Treating Canine Altitude Sickness:

Oxygen therapy may reduce altitude sickness and can be given as an emergency treatment.  The dog should also be taken to a lower altitude immediately.  If that is not possible and the dog is showing multiple signs of altitude sickness, they should be seen immediately by a veterinarian. By recognizing and responding to the signs of altitude sickness immediately, your pet will have a higher chance of remaining healthy once back in their normal elevation and environment.

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