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Signs & Symptoms of Pneumonia in Dogs

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 Fremont vets share some of the symptoms of pneumonia in dogs, and how this condition is treated.

What is pneumonia in dogs?

Pneumonia in dogs, as it does in humans, affects the respiratory system, impairing your dog's ability to breathe normally. While some types of pneumonia are more difficult to treat than others, most dogs recover well from pneumonia with treatment. However, if the condition is not treated, it can lead to more serious complications.

What is infectious pneumonia?

Infectious pneumonia is the most common type of pneumonia in dogs (also called bacterial pneumonia). A viral or bacterial infection in the dog's airways causes infectious pneumonia. Bordetella bronchiseptica is one of the bacteria most commonly linked to infectious pneumonia in dogs, and it is easily transmitted between puppies, senior dogs, and dogs with weakened immune systems.

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 bacterial pneumonia, it's a good idea to keep your sick dog away from other pets in the house and to wash bedding, bowls, collars, and leashes frequently to help prevent the disease from spreading. Also, after petting or handling a dog with infectious pneumonia, wash your hands immediately.

What is aspiration pneumonia in dogs?

Aspiration pneumonia can develop if your dog accidentally inhales vomit or medication, has a pharyngeal abnormality, or has a neuromuscular disorder that affects respiratory function. In some cases, an enlargement of the lower esophagus due to frequent regurgitation caused by acid reflux, as well as an incorrectly placed feeding tube, can result in aspiration pneumonia.

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 exhibits any of the symptoms of aspiration pneumonia, contact your veterinarian right away to schedule an appointment. Early detection and treatment may help to prevent the development of more severe, difficult-to-treat symptoms.

Is treatment available for pneumonia in dogs?

If your dog has infectious bacterial or aspiration pneumonia, your veterinarian will most likely prescribe medications to help control symptoms, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for fever and pain, as well as bronchodilators and expectorants for coughing and breathing problems. If your dog has a particularly severe case of pneumonia, he or she may need to be hospitalized and given fluid therapy, supplemental oxygen, or intravenous antibiotics.

How can I help my dog recover from pneumonia?

Your vet will provide you with specific instructions on caring for your dog during their recovery however typical instructions for care include:

  • Restrict your dog's activities while they recover.
  • Keep 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.
  • Treat 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 Fremont vets at Newark Pet Clinic to book an appointment. Our compassionate vets are here to help your pet feel better. 

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