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Pneumonia in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Pneumonia in dogs can be serious but thankfully, treatment is available and most dogs experience a smooth recovery process. Today, our Laguna Woods vets explain some of the causes, symptoms, and treatment options available for pneumonia in dogs.

Pneumonia in Dogs

Pneumonia in dogs affects the pet's respiratory system interfering with your dog's ability to breathe normally. With treatment, dogs typically recover well from pneumonia, however, if the condition is left untreated, more serious conditions can develop. It's important to note that some forms of pneumonia are more difficult to treat than others.

Viral & Bacterial Infectious Pneumonia in Dogs

Infectious pneumonia also called bacterial pneumonia is the most common type of pneumonia seen in dogs. Infectious pneumonia is caused by a viral or bacterial infection in the dog's respiratory tract. Bordetella bronchiseptica is one of the bacteria most frequently 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.

Symptoms of Bacterial Pneumonia

If your dog is suffering from infectious pneumonia or bacterial pneumonia they 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, keep them away from other pets in the household and wash bedding, bowls, collars, and leashes frequently to help avoid spreading the disease. Additionally, ensure to wash your hands immediately after petting or handling a dog with infectious pneumonia.

Aspiration Pneumonia In Dogs

Aspiration pneumonia can occur in several ways: for example, if your dog has an abnormality of the pharynx, a neuromuscular disorder that impacts respiration, or accidentally inhaling substances like medication or vomit. In some cases, a dog's lower esophagus becomes enlarged due to the frequent regurgitation that acid reflux causes - an incorrectly placed feeding tube can also cause this issue. 

Symptoms of Aspiration Pneumonia

As with most respiratory illnesses, the symptoms of aspiration pneumonia can overlap with those listed for bacterial pneumonia and may include one or more of the following:

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

Aspiration pneumonia may also cause additional symptoms that can include:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Bluish skin
  • Change in mood
  • Frequent regurgitation

If your dog is exhibiting any of the symptoms of aspiration pneumonia, contact your vet to book an appointment for your pet. Early diagnosis and treatment could help to prevent more severe symptoms from developing, which could be harder to treat.

Treating Pneumonia in Dogs

If your dog is diagnosed with infectious bacterial or aspiration pneumonia, their vet is likely to prescribe medications to help control the symptoms including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications for fever and pain, and bronchodilators and expectorants for coughing and breathing issues. In severe cases, your dog may need to be hospitalized and given fluid therapy, supplemental oxygen, or intravenous antibiotics.

Helping Your Dog's Recovery

Your vet will provide you with specific instructions on taking care of your dog while they recover from pneumonia, but some common care tips include:

  • Limit your dog's physical activities while they recuperate.
  • Ensure your dog gets enough rest by keeping other pets and small children away.
  • Supply plenty of fresh water to help keep your pet hydrated.
  • Give your dog a steam treatment by letting hot water (e.g. a hot shower) run in the sink, shower, or bathtub while you sit in the same room with your dog.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Please make an appointment with your vet for an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition.

Is your dog showing signs of pneumonia? Contact our Laguna Woods vets right away to have your pup diagnosed and treated.

New Patients Welcome

Laguna Hills Animal Hospital is welcoming new patients! Our vets are friendly, experienced, and passionate about caring for the health of the cats and dogs in Laguna Woods. Contact us today to schedule your pet's first appointment.

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