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Pneumonia in Dogs - Symptoms to Watch For

Although it's not a condition that most pet parents think about, dogs like people can develop pneumonia. Pneumonia in dogs can be a serious health concern, however treatment is available and most dogs recover well. Here our Southeast Memphis vets share some of the symptoms of pneumonia in dogs, and how this condition is treated.

What is pneumonia in dogs?

As with people, pneumonia in dogs affects the respiratory system interfering with your pup'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?

The most common type of pneumonia in dogs is infectious pneumonia (also called bacterial pneumonia). 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 very young, senior, or that have a compromised immune system.

What are the symptoms of bacterial infectious 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 in dogs?

If 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 signs of aspiration pneumonia?

Symptoms 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 is displaying any of the signs of aspiration pneumonia contact your vet to book an immediate appointment for your pup. Early diagnosis and treatment could help to prevent more severe, harder to treat, symptoms from developing.

Is treatment available for pneumonia in dogs?

If your dog has been diagnosed with either infectious bacterial or aspiration pneumonia your veterinarian will likely 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 from pneumonia?

Your vet will 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.

If your dog is experiencing difficulties breathing contact our Southeast Memphis vets at Southwind Animal Hospital to book an appointment. Our compassionate vets are here to help your pet feel better. 

Pneumonia in dogs in Southeast Memphis

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