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Pneumonia in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Pneumonia in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Pneumonia in dogs can be a serious and scary condition if left untreated. Today, our Avon vets discuss the causes, signs, and treatment options for pneumonia in dogs. 

Pneumonia in Dogs

Pneumonia is a condition that affects the respiratory system, including the lungs and airways, and interferes with your dog's ability to breathe normally. With treatment dogs typically recover well from pneumonia, however, if the condition is left untreated symptoms may become severe, and more serious conditions could develop. 

Viral & Bacterial Infectious Pneumonia

The most common type of pneumonia in dogs is infectious pneumonia (bacterial pneumonia). This form of pneumonia is caused by a viral or bacterial infection in the dog's respiratory system.

One of the bacteria most commonly linked to infectious pneumonia in dogs is Bordetella bronchiseptica. This bacteria can easily be transmitted between dogs that have compromised immune systems, or dogs that are very young or old.

Signs of Bacterial Pneumonia

If your dog is suffering from bacterial infectious pneumonia you will likely notice one or more of the following symptoms:
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Coughing
  • High fever
  • Runny nose
  • Difficulty exercising
  • Nasal whistling or wheezing
  • Irregular breathing
  • Dehydration
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss or loss of appetite

Symptoms of pneumonia should never be ignored. If you notice that your dog is displaying any of the symptoms listed above, contact your primary care veterinarian to schedule an examination for your pup. Be sure to let your vet know that you think your dog may have bacterial pneumonia when you call. 

Aspiration Pneumonia

As with people, aspiration pneumonia can occur if your dog accidentally inhales vomit or medication, has an abnormality of the pharynx, or has a neuromuscular disorder that affects respiratory function. An enlargement of the lower esophagus due to frequent regurgitation (typically caused by acid reflux) can lead to aspiration pneumonia in some cases, as can an incorrectly placed feeding tube.

Signs of Aspiration Pneumonia

Symptoms of aspiration pneumonia are much the same as those listed for bacterial pneumonia and can include:

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

That said, aspiration pneumonia can cause more unusual symptoms such as: 

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

If your dog shows any signs of aspiration pneumonia, contact your vet to book an appointment for your pup. Early diagnosis and treatment can help to prevent more severe symptoms and conditions from developing.

Treating Pneumonia in Dogs

Common medications prescribed by vets for the treatment of infectious bacterial or aspiration pneumonia in dogs include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications for fever and pain and bronchodilators and expectorants for coughing and breathing problems. Dogs suffering from a severe case of pneumonia may need to be hospitalized and provided with supplemental oxygen, intravenous antibiotics, or fluid therapy.

Helping Your Dog Recover

Specific instructions for caring for your dog as they recover from pneumonia will be provided by your vet, and may include:

  • Restricting your dog's activities
  • Keeping other pets and small children away so your dog can rest
  • Supplying plenty of fresh water to help keep your pet hydrated
  • Providing your dog with a steam treatment by running a hot shower while you sit with your dog in the bathroom

NOTE: Bacterial pneumonia - If your dog has been diagnosed with bacterial pneumonia it's a good idea to keep your unwell pup away from other pets in the household, as well as to wash bedding, bowls, collars, and leashes frequently to help avoid spreading the disease. Be sure to also wash your hands immediately after petting or handling a dog with infectious pneumonia. 

Is your dog is showing signs of pneumonia? Contact our Avon vets today to have your pup diagnosed and treated. 

Quality Veterinary Care You Can Rely On

Our experienced vets are passionate about improving the health of pets from across Farmington Valley. Get in touch today to request an appointment. 

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