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Pneumonia in Dogs: Causes and Treatment

Pneumonia in Dogs: Causes and Treatment

Although not a condition that dog owners are likely to think about, pneumonia can affect dogs just like people. Pneumonia can be serious in dogs, but luckily treatment is available and most dogs recover well. Today our Concord vets explain some of the signs and symptoms of pneumonia in dogs, and how this condition is treated.

Pneumonia in Dogs

As with people, pneumonia in dogs affects the pet's respiratory system interfering with your dog's ability to breathe normally. With treatment, dogs typically recover well from pneumonia, however if the condition is left untreated more serious conditions can develop, and it's important to note that some forms of pneumonia are more difficult to treat than others.

Viral & Bacterial Infectious Pneumonia in Dogs

Infectious pneumonia also called bacterial pneumonia is the most common type of pneumonia seen in dogs. Infectious pneumonia is caused by a viral or bacterial infection in the dog's respiratory tract. Bordetella bronchiseptica is one of the bacteria most frequently linked to infectious pneumonia in dogs and can easily be transmitted between dogs that are very young, senior, or that have a compromised immune system.

Symptoms of Bacterial Pneumonia In Dogs

If your dog is suffering from infectious pneumonia or bacterial pneumonia they may display one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Coughing
  • High fever
  • Runny nose
  • Wheezing
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty exercising
  • Nasal whistling
  • Irregular breathing
  • Dehydration
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite

If your dog has been diagnosed with bacterial pneumonia, keep them away from other pets in the household and wash bedding, bowls, collars and leashes frequently to help avoid spreading the disease. Additionally, ensure to wash your hands immediately after petting or handling a dog with infectious pneumonia.

Aspiration Pneumonia In Dogs

Aspiration pneumonia can occur in a number of ways: for example, if your dog has an abnormality of the pharynx, a neuromuscular disorder that impacts respiration, or accidentally inhaling substances like medication or vomit. In some cases, a dog's lower esophagus becomes enlarged due to the frequent regurgitation that acid reflux causes - an incorrectly placed feeding tube can also cause this issue. 

Symptoms Of Aspiration Pneumonia In Dogs 

As with most respiratory illnesses, the symptoms of aspiration pneumonia have overlap with those listed for bacterial pneumonia and may include one or more of the following:

  • Coughing
  • High fever
  • Runny nose
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty exercising
  • Nasal whistling
  • Wheezing
  • Irregular breathing
  • Dehydration
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite

However, aspiration pneumonia may also cause other symptoms such as:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Bluish skin
  • Change in mood
  • Frequent regurgitation

If your dog is exhibiting any of the symptoms of aspiration pneumonia, contact your vet to book an appointment for your pet. Early diagnosis and treatment could help to prevent more severe symptoms from developing, which could be harder to treat.

How Pneumonia In Dogs Is Treated

If your dog is diagnosed with infectious bacterial or aspiration pneumonia, their vet is likely to prescribe medications to help control the symptoms including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications for fever and pain, and bronchodilators and expectorants for coughing and breathing issues. In severe cases, your dog may need to be hospitalized and given fluid therapy, supplemental oxygen, or intravenous antibiotics.

How To Help Your Dog's Recovery

Your vet will provide you with specific instructions on taking care of your dog while they recover from pneumonia, but some common care tips include:

  • Limit your dog's physical activities while they recuperate.
  • Ensure your dog gets enough rest by keeping other pets and small children away.
  • Supply plenty of fresh water to help keep your pet hydrated.
  • Give your dog a steam treatment by letting hot water (e.g. a hot shower) run in the sink, shower or bathtub while you sit in the same room with your dog.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your dog has breathing difficulties, contact us for urgent veterinary care during office hours. Our Concord team is experienced in providing compassionate care to pets in need.

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Four Corners Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about caring for the health of your precious companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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