Like their owners, dogs can develop pneumonia, and it can be quite serious if not treated early. Today, our Vienna vets discuss the types, signs, and treatment of pneumonia in dogs.
Pneumonia in Dogs
Pneumonia is a condition that affects the respiratory system, including the lungs and airways, and interferes with your dog's ability to breathe normally. With treatment dogs typically recover well from pneumonia, however, if the condition is left untreated symptoms may become severe, and more serious conditions could develop.
Viral & Bacterial Infectious Pneumonia in Dogs
The most common type of pneumonia in dogs is infectious pneumonia (bacterial pneumonia). This form of pneumonia is caused by a viral or bacterial infection in the dog's respiratory system.
One of the bacteria most commonly linked to infectious pneumonia in dogs is Bordetella bronchiseptica. This bacteria can easily be transmitted between dogs that have compromised immune systems, or dogs that are very young or old.
Signs of Bacterial Pneumonia in Dogs
If your dog is suffering from bacterial infectious pneumonia you will likely notice one or more of the following symptoms:
- High fever
- Runny nose
- Difficulty exercising
- Breathing difficulties
- Irregular breathing
- Nasal whistling or wheezing
- Weight loss or loss of appetite
Symptoms of pneumonia should never be ignored. If you notice that your dog is displaying any of the symptoms listed above, contact your primary care veterinarian to schedule an examination for your pup. Be sure to let your vet know that you think your dog may have bacterial pneumonia when you call.
Aspiration Pneumonia in Dogs
As with people, aspiration pneumonia can occur if your dog accidentally inhales vomit or medication, has an abnormality of the pharynx, or has a neuromuscular disorder that affects respiratory function. An enlargement of the lower esophagus due to frequent regurgitation (typically caused by acid reflux) can lead to aspiration pneumonia in some cases, as can an incorrectly placed feeding tube.
Signs of Aspiration Pneumonia in Dogs
Symptoms of aspiration pneumonia are much the same as those listed for bacterial pneumonia.
That said, aspiration pneumonia can also cause more unusual symptoms such as:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Bluish skin
- Altered mood
- Frequent regurgitation
If your dog shows any of the signs of aspiration pneumonia contact your vet to book an appointment for your pup. Early diagnosis and treatment can help to prevent more severe symptoms and conditions from developing.
Treatment for Pneumonia in Dogs
Common medications prescribed by vets for the treatment of infectious bacterial or aspiration pneumonia in dogs include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications for fever and pain and bronchodilators and expectorants for coughing and breathing problems. Dogs suffering from a severe case of pneumonia may need to be hospitalized and provided with supplemental oxygen, intravenous antibiotics, or fluid therapy.
Helping Your Dog Recover From Pneumonia
Specific instructions for caring for your dog as they recover from pneumonia will be provided by your vet, and may include:
- Restricting your dog's activities
- Keeping other pets and small children away in order for your dog to rest
- Supplying plenty of fresh water to help keep your pet hydrated
- Providing your dog with a steam treatment by running a hot shower while you sit with your dog in the bathroom
NOTE: Bacterial pneumonia - If your dog has been diagnosed with bacterial pneumonia it's a good idea to keep your unwell pup away from other pets in the household, as well as to wash bedding, bowls, collars, and leashes frequently to help avoid spreading the disease. Be sure to also wash your hands immediately after petting or handling a dog with infectious pneumonia.