Signs of Pneumonia in Dogs

Signs of Pneumonia in Dogs

Dogs, like people can be stricken with pneumonia. In fact, pneumonia can be a very serious health threat for dogs, but treatment is available and most dogs recover well. Today our Orange County vets explain some of the signs of pneumonia in dogs, and how this condition is treated. 

What is pneumonia?

Pneumonia is a condition that can affect your pet's respiratory system, interfering with your dog's ability to breathe normally. Most dogs will recover well from pneumonia, if treated early. That said, if pneumonia is left untreated, more serious conditions can develop. It's also important to note that some forms of pneumonia can be much more difficult to treat than others. 

What is viral or bacterial infectious pneumonia?

Infectious pneumonia (bacterial pneumonia) is the most common type of pneumonia our Orange County vets see 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 commonly linked to infectious pneumonia in dogs, and can easily be transmitted between dogs with a compromised immune system, or that are very young, or senior.

Signs of Infectious Bacterial Pneumonia in Dogs

Dogs suffering from infectious pneumonia or bacterial pneumonia 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 it's a good idea to keep your unwell dog away from other pets in the household, and to 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?

Aspiration pneumonia is a very serious form of the condition that can occur if your dog accidentally inhales vomit or medication, has an abnormality of the pharynx, or a neuromuscular disorder which affects respiratory function. 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.

Signs of Aspiration Pneumonia in Dogs

The symptoms of aspiration pneumonia are much the same as 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
  • Altered mood
  • Frequent regurgitation

If your dog is displaying any of the symptoms of aspiration pneumonia it is essential to seek veterinary care as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment could help to prevent more severe, harder to treat, symptoms from developing.

How is pneumonia treated in dogs?

For dogs suffering from infectious bacterial or aspiration pneumonia vets often prescribe medications to help control the symptoms such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications for fever and pain, and bronchodilators and expectorants for coughing and breathing issues. In severe cases it may be necessary to hospitalize your dog in order to provide advanced treatments such as fluid therapy, supplemental oxygen, or intravenous antibiotics.

How can I help my dog recover from pneumonia?

Your vet will provide you with specific instruction on caring for your dog during their recovery from pneumonia, but typical instructions for care will include:

  • Restricting your dog's activities while they recover.
  • Supplying plenty of fresh water to help keep them hydrated during their recovery.
  • Providing your dog with a steam treatment by running a hot shower while you sit with your dog in the shower room or bathroom.
  • Keeping other pets and small children away from your dog in order in order to allow them to get adequate rest.

If your dog is having difficulties breathing, showing severe signs of pneumonia, or in need of urgent care for any reason, visit our emergency department at Veterinary Medical And Surgical Group–OC (VMSG-OC) in Orange County as soon as possible. Be sure to call to let us know you are on your way since pneumonia can be contagious.

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