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Tracheobronchitis & Chronic Bronchitis in Dogs

Dogs suffering from chronic bronchitis and tracheobronchitis (kennel cough) show many of the same symptoms however these different types of bronchitis differ in a few important ways. Today our Orange County vets share more about bronchitis in dogs and the symptoms to watch for.

Infectious Tracheobronchitis in Dogs

Tracheobronchitis is an acute respiratory condition that typically lasts about 2 weeks and is one of the conditions commonly referred to as kennel cough. The name of this highly contagious condition stems from the fact that tracheobronchitis infects your dog's trachea or 'windpipe' as well as the bronchial tubes.

There are a number of viruses that can cause this form of bronchitis in dogs including adenovirus type-2, parainfluenza virus, canine coronavirus, and the bacterium Bordetella bronchiseptica.

This form of bronchitis in dogs is high contagious. If your dog is showing any of the signs below isolate your pup from other dogs and contact your vet right away.

Signs of Tracheobronchitis

Dogs with tracheobronchitis typically develop a loud cough which is often described as sounding like a 'goose honk'. Other signs of tracheobronchitis include cold-like symptoms such as:

  • Coughing when the dog's throat is rubbed
  • Coughing during or after exercise
  • Gagging
  • Spitting foamy saliva
  • Runny eyes and nose
  • Swollen tonsils
  • Wheezing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depressed or lethargic behavior

If your dog is diagnosed with infectious tracheobronchitis their cough may persist for several weeks after the infection has cleared up.

Treatment for Infectious Tracheobronchitis

Treatment for tracheobronchitis will depend on the underlying cause of your pup's condition. Antibiotics can be used to treat bacterial infections such as Bordetella bronchiseptica, in other cases, your vet may prescribe medications such as cough suppressants and anti-inflammatory medications to help relieve your dog's symptoms. 

Chronic Bronchitis (COPD) in Dogs

Chronic bronchitis or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is a long-term inflammation of your dog's respiratory system which is irreversible and slowly progressive. Chronic bronchitis is characterized by symptoms lasting longer than 2 months, and is most often seen in toy and small dogs who are middle-aged or older.

The cause of this form of bronchitis is largely unknown but the condition may be associated with inhaled irritants such as tobacco smoke, air pollution, or allergins (allergic bronchitis in dogs). Recurring respiratory infections and the bacteria associated with dental disease may also play a role in the development of chronic bronchitis in dogs.

Signs of Chronic Bronchitis in Dogs

Signs of chronic bronchitis in dogs can be very similar to those of tracheobronchitis listed above, but become progressively more severe over time.

When the condition is in the early stages symptoms usually include a dry persistent cough often followed by gagging. As the disease progresses you may notice:

  • Dry cough
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Noisy breathing
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Wheezing 
  • Fainting

When the condition enters the later stages you may notice that the skin around your dog's mouth has a blue tinge to it.

Chronic bronchitis can be successfully managed and many dogs being treated for the condition can go on to live a good quality of life to normal life expectancy. Chronic Bronchitis In Dogs Treatment

Dogs showing severe symptoms of chronic bronchitis such as respiratory distress may require hospitalization for oxygen therapy and/or intravenous medication to stabilize their condition. Medications and other treatments commonly prescribed for chronic bronchitis include:

  • Cough suppressants
  • Antibiotics for secondary bacterial infections
  • Corticosteroids to help decrease inflammation and ease coughing
  • Inhalers (puffers)
  • Dental descaling, cleaning, and polishing under general anesthesia
  • Avoidance of irritants and allergins where possible
  • Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory or immune stimulant supportive treatments and supplements

Your veterinarian will discuss all the options with you and help you decide which options are best for your pet. Medications may need to be adjusted periodically when symptoms flare up.

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.

Has your dog developed a severe cough? Contact our 24/7 emergency animal clinic for urgent veterinary care. If your dog has been diagnosed with chronic bronchitis contact us today to book an appointment with one of our Board Certified Veterinary Specialists.

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Veterinary Medical And Surgical Group–OC (VMSG-OC) accepts new clients to our specialty services and 24/7 emergency services.

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