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Chylothorax in Dogs

Cost of Treatment:  $5,900 to $10,000 for surgery

What it is: Chylothorax is a condition that involves the accumulation of lymph fluids in the pleural cavity, which is the cavity in the chest that houses the heart and lungs. The most common cause is the leaking of a digestive fluid known as chyle, which can enter the chest cavity on its way to the dog’s veins.


  • Rapid breathing or other breathing problems
  • Coughing
  • Muffled or increased lung sounds
  • Muffled or irregular heartbeat
  • Weight loss or anorexia
  • Inability to exercise
  • Pale mucous membranes and gums
  • Bluish skin discoloration
  • Depression


Surgery is a common treatment for chylothorax, while medication can often help with treatment or maintenance of the condition. Many pet insurance plans cover the cost of surgery and other treatment methods related to the disease.

Return to the Dog Health Problems glossary.

1 Comment
  1. Reply
    Graham 10/31/2016 at 9:44 am

    Our dog was diagnosed Chylothorax. She was having difficulty breathing and seemed to be gasping for air. It seemed to take the vet forever to make the diagnosis, but it reality it was only two days. At first medication kept it under control, but we finally approved surgery. She is back to her happy, playful self. [email protected]

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