Your healthy dog can help vets understand how dogs breathe in emergencies

cocker spaniel and pug
The CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital is seeking healthy dogs for an emergency-dare study. (CVMBS photo)

By Dr. Amanda Cavanagh

Emergency veterinarians often order blood gas tests to help them understand life-threatening conditions. An arterial blood gas test measures pH balance, oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the blood. But they need more information for dogs at high altitudes.

veterinarians with a pugVeterinarians do not yet know what normal values for arterial blood gas are for dogs who live in a high-altitude environment.

The Arterial Blood Gas at Altitude Study at the Colorado State University James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital is looking for healthy dogs, especially brachycephalic (short-muzzled, flat-faced) breeds⁠ — English bulldogs, French bulldogs, and pugs ⁠— to participate in this research that will show veterinarians if dogs breathe differently in high altitude environments.


We are looking for dogs who:

  • are at least 1 year old
  • are able to undergo a blood draw with mild restraint
  • have no medical conditions and receive no medications
  • have lived around Fort Collins for at least 6 months
  • have not undergone prior airway surgery (for brachycephalic breeds)

Your dog will receive (at no charge):

  • a physical examination
  • CBC
  • chemistry
  • arterial blood gas
  • a 3-minute indoor trot test to grade brachycephalic airway changes (for brachycephalic breeds)

little girl with a pug

To enroll, email:

Dr. Amanda Cavanagh is a board-certified assistant professor of Small Animal Emergency and Critical Care, and section head of the Urgent Care Service at the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital.