• acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS);
  • canine;
  • near-drowning;
  • submersion injury


Objective– To describe successful management of saltwater near-drowning in a dog using mechanical ventilation.

Case Summary– A 7-year-old spayed female Golden Retriever weighing 37 kg was referred for mechanical ventilation after saltwater submersion injury. The dog had a history of rare seizures characterized by pre-ictal agitation. On the morning of the event, the dog became agitated and ran toward Puget Sound. The owners discovered the dog unconscious in approximately 25.4 cm (10 in) of water, with her head submerged. The owners estimated that the dog was submerged for approximately 30 seconds. The dog was presented immediately to the nearest emergency facility where initial diagnostic testing and treatment included venous blood gases, nasal oxygen, and IV fluids. The dog was dyspneic despite nasal oxygen administration and was referred for mechanical ventilation. Upon arrival the patient was cyanotic with an arterial partial pressure of oxygen of 38 mm Hg (reference interval 85–100 mm Hg) and oxygenation saturation of 62% (reference interval >95%). Thoracic radiographs were taken and revealed severe, bilateral pulmonary infiltrates. The patient was ventilated for 70 hours and was discharged 4 days later. Complications included pneumonia and phlebitis at the site of a cephalic IV catheter. Follow up thoracic radiographs 10 days after discharge were within normal limits and the owners report a full recovery at 1 year.

New or Unique Information Provided– Submersion injury can result in acute respiratory distress syndrome in dogs. Mechanical ventilation provided critical support during pulmonary recovery in this dog.