Pneumonia in dogs can be deadly. What are the symptoms of canine pneumonia? Let’s find them out, in this article.
If you own a dog you need to be very cautious about its health as it may suffer from a number of health problems. Pneumonia is one of the common canine health problems. Pneumonia in dogs results in inflammation of lungs and bronchi. This infection is more common in dogs younger than the age of one. If not treated immediately, pneumonia can be fatal.
Productive coughing is one of the most notable symptoms in dogs. Some other signs are as follows:
» Nasal discharge
» Difficulty in breathing, wheezing
» Deep, rapid breathing
» Loss of appetite
» Lethargic behavior
» Weight loss
» Tachycardia (increased heart rate)
You may also notice the dog’s lips bulging outward while breathing. As the lungs get filled with fluid, oxygen supply to the body is reduced. This is indicated by the tongue, lips and gums of the dog starting to appear bluish or gray, a condition called cyanosis. It indicates a dangerous decrease in the amount of oxygenated blood in the body.
Pneumonia, in general, is caused by bacterial, viral, fungal or parasitic infections. In case of dogs, pneumonia is mainly due to bacterial infection. Inhalation is typically the entry route for the pathogens. Some of the major causes of dog pneumonia are:
» Immunosuppression (reduced efficiency of the immune system)
» Dyskinesia (reduced or no control over voluntary movements)
» Reduced clearance of respiratory wastes
» Aspiration (inhalation) of gastric contents during acid reflux
» Bacterial infection
Certain dog breeds such as hounds, sporting dogs, working dogs and some mixed breeds are more vulnerable to pneumonia. Healthy adults are unlikely to contract pneumonia. Young puppies or old dogs, both of whom have a weak immune system, are usually the victims.
When you notice the symptoms of pneumonia in your dog, you must consult a veterinarian immediately. The veterinarian, after determining the dog’s medical history, performs a careful physical examination, especially centering on the lungs and the heart. When the dog takes a deep breath, the abnormal wheezing and rattling sounds from the lungs are heard through a stethoscope.
Medical history of the dog covers any previous illness, appetite, activity or exercise intolerance, weight loss, cough and environmental exposure to dust, vapors and smoke and response to therapy. Certain investigations are performed for the accurate diagnosis of pneumonia in dogs such as complete blood count, chest X-ray, airway cytology, tracheal wash cytology and culture/sensitivity. Some other tests such as heartworm test and bronchoscopy are also performed to diagnose pneumonia in dogs.
An important point to remember is to not give the dog a cough suppressor before taking it to the vet, since coughing removes the harmful material in its airway.
Pneumonia causes difficulty in breathing. In some severe cases of pneumonia, hospitalization is required with the provision of intravenous fluids, oxygen, antibiotics and supportive care. Dogs are treated with antibiotics at least for three weeks, humidified oxygen and percussion of thorax to loosen and remove the secretions. Antibiotics usually have an excellent effect.
If the disease was caused by some non-microbial agent, such as acid reflux, that issue should be treated in order to prevent a relapse.
Pneumonia can be a progressive, serious health problem in dogs and hence, it should not be neglected. Being a dog owner, it’s your responsibility to take care of “your most loyal friend’s” health. With proper care you can keep your dog healthy, happy and playful.