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Severe Human Lung Disease Found in Dogs

May 16, 2016 02:43 AM EDT
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New study reveals that the rare pulmonary veno-occlusive disease, which causes pulmonary hypertension in humans, can also be experienced by dogs.
(Photo : Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images)

Researchers from Michigan State University discovered that dogs can also be inflicted with a rare, severe form of pulmonary hypertension that is known up until now to only occur in humans as lung disease.

The study, published in the journal Veterinary Pathology, shows that canines can also experience pulmonary veno-occlusive disease, or PVOD.

PVOD is an extremely rare disease that blocks small veins in the lungs causing an increase pressure to the blood vessels, which in turn result to pulmonary hypertension. Pulmonary hypertension is abnormally high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs, making the right side of the heart to work harder than normal.

"The same process happens in canines," said Kurt Williams, the lead author of the study and an expert in respiratory pathology in MSU's College of Veterinary Medicine, in a statement.

"These dogs also come in with similar symptoms as humans, yet because subtle changes in health may not be recognized as quickly in dogs, death can occur quickly once the animal is seen by a veterinarian," added Williams in the same statement.

For their study, researchers examined 11 dogs that are showing severe respiratory symptoms. Upon evaluating the lungs of the affected animals, researchers found that all dogs has pulmonary lesions are consistent with PVOD. On the other hand, six out of the 11 dogs had substantial pulmonary arterial medial and intimal thickening.

According to the press release from MCU, there are 15 to 50 people per million affected with pulmonary hypertension each year in the United States. Out of that, only about 10 percent of reported pulmonary hypertension cases were associated with POVD.

Symptom of POVD in dogs is not the much different in humans, but are very to detect in dogs due to the very subtle changes in the dog's health. These symptoms include cough, increased rate of breathing, respiratory distress, loss of appetite and chronic fatigue.

AT present, there is still no guaranteed treatment for POVD in humans. Lung transplant still remains the best choice of POVD patients.

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