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Pneumonia in Dogs: Causes and Treatment

Although dog owners don't necessarily think about it, pneumonia can affect dogs just like humans. Pneumonia can be serious in dogs, but fortunately, treatment is available, and most dogs recover well. Today, our vets in Lincoln explain some of the signs and symptoms of pneumonia in dogs and how the condition is treated.

Pneumonia in Dogs

As in humans, pneumonia affects the respiratory system in dogs, preventing the animal from breathing normally. However, if left untreated, more serious conditions can develop. 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 known as bacterial pneumonia, is the most common type of pneumonia 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 be transmitted easily between very young, old, or immunocompromised dogs.

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 him away from other pets in the house and wash bedding, bowls, collars, and leashes often to avoid spreading the disease. In addition, be sure to wash your hands straight away 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 a pharyngeal abnormality, a neuromuscular disorder that affects breathing, or if he accidentally inhales substances such as medication or vomit. In certain cases, the lower part of a dog's esophagus becomes enlarged due to the frequent regurgitation caused by acid reflux - a misplaced feeding tube can also cause this problem.

Symptoms Of Aspiration Pneumonia In Dogs 

As with most respiratory illnesses, the symptoms of aspiration pneumonia 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 bacterial or aspiration infectious pneumonia, their veterinarian will probably prescribe internal medicine to help control symptoms, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for fever and pain and bronchodilators and expectorants for coughing and respiratory problems. In the most severe cases, it may be necessary to hospitalize your dog and administer 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 recovers 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 breathing is difficult for your dog, contact our urgent veterinary care during office hours. Our Lincoln team specialist in internal medicine for dogs that are not well. 

New Patients Welcome

Critter Creek Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of pets in Lincoln and the Greater Sacramento Area. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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