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Does your dog have a high fever? Is your pet having difficulty breathing?
These are telltale signs of pneumonia which is a highly contagious disease.
Pneumonia affects the respiratory system and can lead to more than just breathing difficulties.
This is why you should not take pneumonia in dogs lightly. Proper treatment is required to ensure recovery.
But what exactly is pneumonia, and why is it so concerning?
This article will look at the causes, symptoms, and treatment for pneumonia in dogs.
What is Pneumonia in Dogs?
Pneumonia is inflammation of the respiratory system and the lungs.
It hinders your dog’s ability to breathe properly and can lead to severe complications if left untreated.
Pneumonia is rarely fatal as it is well-researched and excellent treatment is available.
The respiratory system consists of two parts: the upper and lower respiratory tracts.
Pneumonia is the inflammation of the lower respiratory tract, and bronchopneumonia is the inflammation of both the upper and lower respiratory tracts.
An infection of just the upper respiratory tract is known as bronchitis.
There are two main types of pneumonia in dogs. Each type is caused by different factors, has different symptoms, and requires specialized treatment.
Infectious Pneumonia in Dogs
As the name suggests, infectious pneumonia is caused by a viral or bacterial infection of the lungs.
Bordetella bronchiseptica is the bacteria responsible for most cases of pneumonia in dogs.
This is the more common type of pneumonia found in dogs and can be very contagious.
If your dog has infectious pneumonia, you must isolate them from other dogs to prevent the disease from spreading.
Older dogs with compromised immune systems are at greater risk. The infection can't spread from dogs to humans.
Infectious pneumonia is a serious condition. If you notice the following symptoms in your pet, you must take them to the vet immediately.
Make an appointment and inform the clinic that you suspect your dog may have infectious pneumonia.
Due to the contagious nature of this disease, extra precautions must be taken to prevent its spread to other pets.
- High fever
- Runny nose
- Breathing difficulties and coughing
- Difficulty exercising
- Nasal whistling or wheezing
- Irregular breathing pattern
- Dry mouth
- Lethargic behavior
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
Aspiration Pneumonia in Dogs
Aspiration pneumonia occurs when a foreign substance enters the airways or lungs.
Unlike infectious pneumonia, aspirational pneumonia is not contagious but is still very serious.
Several factors can cause aspiration pneumonia. These include:
- Accidentally inhaling vomit or medication
- An abnormality of the pharynx
- Frequent regurgitation (typically caused by acid reflux)
- An incorrectly placed feeding tube
- A neuromuscular disorder that affects respiratory function
The symptoms of aspirational pneumonia are the same as those of infectious pneumonia.
But aspirational pneumonia can also lead to other symptoms like:
- Purple or Bluish skin
- Altered mood and behavior
- Difficulty while swallowing
- Acidity and frequent regurgitation
Diagnosis of Pneumonia in Dogs
Your vet may suspect pneumonia based on the symptoms listed above. A physical examination will then be conducted.
The vet will listen to your dog’s chest with a stethoscope for any abnormal lung sounds which can indicate pneumonia.
Ather the physical exam, the vet may order tests to confirm the diagnosis. This will also eliminate other diseases that could be causing the symptoms.
These tests may include the following:
- Chest Radiograph: X-rays can show characteristic lung changes and help eliminate other heart or lung diseases.
- CBC and Fecal tests: Blood tests will assess your pet's general health, and the vet may recommend specific tests to rule out parasitic diseases like lungworm or heartworm.
- Cytology or Tracheal Lavage: These tests require sedation to collect samples from the respiratory tract. These samples are then cultured and examined under a microscope.
Treatment for Pneumonia in Dogs
Broad-spectrum antibiotics are the first course of action when treating pneumonia in dogs.
Doxycycline and Amoxicillin are great options and will slow down the infection considerably.
A more targeted approach can be taken when the type of bacteria is confirmed through cultures.
Once the fever is no longer an issue, you can rest easy. If the fever persists or your dog refuses to eat, hospitalization may become necessary.
Cooperate with your vet and ask them questions to help you make the best possible decisions.
Giving medicine to a dog can be challenging. This is why we recommend that you insert the pills into your dog’s favorite treat.
Nebulization (using steam to clear the respiratory tracts) is also a great option and will help your dog recover faster.
Caring for Dogs with Pneumonia
Ask your vet what you can do for your dog as they recover from pneumonia.
Recovery will take time, so rest should be maximized. Restrict your dog's activity by keeping other pets and small children away from your dog.
Diet and hydration are also important for optimal recovery. Supply plenty of fresh water to help keep your dog hydrated.
Homemade dog food is also recommended, as a balanced and healthy diet is essential.
Steam treatment is also a great option. You can easily run a hot shower and sit with your pet in the bathroom.
This will thin the mucus in your dog’s airways, allowing it to be easily coughed up.
Watch this YouTube video by Dr. Andrew Jones to learn more about pneumonia in dogs:
Pneumonia in Dogs: Summary
Pneumonia is a serious condition, but it should not cause much concern if discovered early.
For this reason, you must always be on the lookout for symptoms and not take anything for granted.
Pneumonia is highly contagious. You must take the appropriate precautions to prevent it from spreading.
Call the clinic beforehand so they can isolate your dog properly from the other pets.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments below. There is no need to worry, as pneumonia is quite curable.
Be patient. Your dog will be running circles around you in no time!