Animal Doctor performs pleurocentesis/thoracocentesis to drain fluid. We accept referrals and provide second opinions.

Description: A thoracocentesis is indicated for patients that have been diagnosed with fluid accumulating in the space surrounding their lungs and thoracic wall (pleural space). A thoracocentesis works to both alleviate the pressure and allow the animal to breath more normally, while also being useful as a diagnostic tool. The fluid can then be evaluated to determine type (blood, infection, cancer, etc.), potential causes and prognosis.  

Symptoms & What to look for: Patients that need a thoracocentesis are likely in some level of respiratory distress varying from increased respiration rate to incapacitated/cannot rise or stand. Decreased energy level, increased respiration rate/effort. Open mouth breathing is never normal and indicates significant respiratory compromise. 

How does it happen? Fluid accumulation in the chest can happen due to several different factors. Some potential examples include infection secondary to a migrating grass awn, blood secondary from trauma (hit by car), or fluid production from different types of cancer.

What questions do we ask?

  • What changes have you noticed?
  • How long have you noticed a change(s)?
  • Any changes in activity level?
  • Any changes in Appetite?

What are the steps we take to treat your pet?

  • Physical examination and imaging (radiograph) to help guide us to a potential diagnosis.
  • Pain medications will be given to help keep your animal calm while prepping them for the thoracocentesis procedure. After preparation, the thoracocentesis is performed to help drain the fluid away from the lungs/pleural space.
  • Samples will then be sent off for further evaluation while we focus on stabilizing your pet.
  • Treatment plan is based on pending diagnosis.

Animal Doctor Pleurocentesis/Thoracocentesis potential treatment plans?

Oral medications

  • Antibiotics to inhibit bacterial growth.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications will be prescribed to reduce inflammation and help with pain control.
  • Opioid pain medications will be prescribed if needed for extra pain control in severe cases.


  • Opioid pain medications will be given as a part of the anesthesia plan.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories might be given while under anesthesia.
  • Antibiotics to inhibit bacterial growth.

What are the risks if the pleurocentesis/thoracocentesis is not performed?

The biggest risk of not performing a thoracocentesis in an unstable (struggling to breath) patient is death from the inability to expand their lungs and exchange oxygen.