Pneumonia in dogs occurs whenever the lungs and bronchi, the tubes responsible for transporting air into the lungs, become infected and inflamed. Canine pneumonia is fatal if left untreated. Adult dogs in relatively good health are usually not affected.
Instead, pneumonia usually affects younger or older dogs who have a weakened immune system. The immune system can be weakened for reasons such as chemotherapy, chronic bronchitis, or medications such as corticosteroids. Canine pneumonia can also occur in dogs that have foreign objects lodged in their airway or those who have a collapsing trachea.
Pneumonia in canines frequently occurs because of another condition of some sort. It’s possible that your dog develops the condition after having a cold or other respiratory illnesses. Inhaling smoke or ingesting gasoline or kerosene has also been known to cause canine pneumonia.
The main symptom of pneumonia in dogs is coughing. There will likely be fluid in the lungs, so the cough will be bubbling. Dogs frequently have a hard time breathing and start panting or wheezing more often.
Other common signs of dog pneumonia include depression, lethargy, and loss of appetite. Some dogs also develop a fever, and others experience nasal discharge in a few cases.
It’s important that you take your dog to seek prompt medical attention if he displays any of these signs of pneumonia. Some owners make the mistake of giving their dog a cough suppressant when he starts coughing. Coughing will help clear the airway so your dog can breathe better, so you certainly don’t want to suppress it.
If your dog displays symptoms of canine pneumonia, then the vet will exam him thoroughly including listening to his lungs. An x-ray of the lungs will also prove useful since the infection will easily be visible. In some cases, the veterinarian will opt to look at the bronchi using a bronchoscope. However, this is a very invasive procedure requiring anesthesia.
Since pneumonia in dogs is frequently caused by a bacterial infection, it’s usually treated with antibiotics. There are many different types of bacteria that can cause the infection, and many of them respond to different types of medications. The vet may choose to use multiple types of antibiotics to treat canine pneumonia.
Most dogs will need to take antibiotics for about three or four weeks to treat the condition. It’s vital that you don’t stop this treatment early. Many owners do once they notice their dog starts looking and feeling better. However, the infection may still be present even if the symptoms aren’t visible anymore.
It’s very common for canine pneumonia to require hospitalization. If your dog has trouble breathing, then he may need humidified oxygen to help him do so. Many dogs become dehydrated because of their refusal to eat or drink, so they will need IV fluids.