Symptoms of Pneumonia in Dogs

Although it's not be a condition that most pet parents think about, pneumonia in dogs is relatively common. While many dogs recover well from pneumonia the conditions can be a serious health concern for dogs that are senior, immunocompromised, or very young. Our Memphis vets explain more about how pneumonia could affect your dog.

What is pneumonia in dogs?

Just like pneumonia in people, pneumonia in dogs affects the animal's respiratory system interfering with your pet's ability to breathe normally. While some forms of pneumonia are more difficult to clear-up than others, with treatment, most dogs recover well from pneumonia. That said, if the condition is left untreated more serious issues can develop.

What is infectious pneumonia?

Infectious pneumonia (also called 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 airways. Bordetella bronchiseptica is one of the bacteria most commonly linked to infectious pneumonia in dogs, and can easily be transmitted between dogs that are senior, have a compromised immune system or are very young.

Is coughing the only symptom of pneumonia in dogs?

If your dog has developed infectious pneumonia or bacterial pneumonia they may develop a cough but there are a host of other symptoms which are also associated with the condition including:

  • 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 bacterial pneumonia our vets recommend that you keep your unwell dog away from other pets in the household, and wash bedding, bowls, collars and leashes frequently to help avoid spreading the disease. Also be sure to wash your hands immediately after petting or handling a dog with infectious pneumonia. 

What is aspiration pneumonia in dogs?

If for some reason your dog accidentally inhales vomit or medication, has an abnormality of the pharynx, or a neuromuscular disorder which affects respiratory function, aspiration pneumonia could develop. In some cases an enlargement of the lower esophagus due to frequent regurgitation caused by acid reflux can lead to aspiration pneumonia, as can an incorrectly placed feeding tube.

What are the symptoms of aspiration pneumonia?

Signs of aspiration pneumonia can be very similar to those of infectious bacterial pneumonia and may include one or more of the following:

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

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

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Bluish skin
  • Altered mood
  • Frequent regurgitation

If your dog shows signs of aspiration pneumonia, contact your vet to book an appointment as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment could help to prevent your dog from developing more severe, harder to treat, symptoms.

What is the treatment for pneumonia in dogs?

If your dog has been diagnosed with either infectious bacterial or aspiration pneumonia your vet may prescribe medications to help control symptoms such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications for fever and pain, and bronchodilators and expectorants for coughing and breathing issues. Your dog may need to be hospitalized and provided with fluid therapy, supplemental oxygen, or intravenous antibiotics if they are suffering from a particularly severe case of pneumonia.

How can I help my dog to recover?

Your vet will be sure to provide you with specific instruction on caring for your dog during their recovery, however typical instructions for care include:

  • Restricting your dog's activities while they recover.
  • Keeping other pets and small children away from your dog in order in order to allow them to get plenty of rest.
  • Supplying plenty of fresh water to help keep them hydrated.
  • Treating your dog with a steam treatment by running a hot shower while you sit with your dog in the bathroom or shower room.
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 is experiencing difficulties breathing, contact our vets at Stage Road Animal Hospital in Memphis. Our compassionate vets have experience in the diagnosis and treatment of pneumonia in pets.

Pneumonia in dogs, Memphis Vet

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