It’s tough to see your dog a little under the weather, whether it’s the sniffles or a cough.
But it can also be scary to think that he’s not just dealing with a common cold, but instead something more serious.
Pneumonia in dogs is a real thing — and it’s no joke.
According to Dr. Hannah Lau, a veterinarian with Bond Vet, it’s what happens when your pup’s airway and lungs become inflamed, to the point that it’s hard for him to breathe.
What causes pneumonia in dogs?
Pneumonia can be caused by all sorts of infections, like viral, bacterial and fungal infections.
Bordetella, for example, is a super contagious respiratory disease in dogs that can cause pneumonia. (That’s why the vaccine is so important.)
But irritation and injury can also lead to pneumonia in dogs.
“Pneumonia can also be caused by aspiration, or accidentally inhaling food or foreign material into the airway,” Dr. Lau told The Dodo. This is called aspiration pneumonia.
Pneumonia can also be caused by any condition that impacts your dog’s respiratory system, including ones that affect his ability to swallow or vomit, like:
- Cleft palate
- Chronic vomiting
- Laryngeal paralysis
How serious is pneumonia in dogs?
Pneumonia in dogs is a serious condition, since it can make it difficult for your dog to breathe, which prevents oxygen from flowing into his bloodstream.
The good news: “Most cases, when caught early enough, are treatable,” Dr. Lau said.
According to Dr. Lau, there are some dogs who are more at risk when it comes to pneumonia, including pups who are:
- Very young
- Brachycephalic (flat-faced)
Symptoms of pneumonia in dogs
Common symptoms of pneumonia in dogs include:
Dog pneumonia treatment
The first step to treating your pup’s pneumonia is to first have a vet confirm that’s actually what he’s dealing with.
To do this, your vet may conduct a physical exam, listen to his lungs with a stethoscope or take chest X-rays.
These procedures could also help your vet figure out the underlying cause of your dog’s pneumonia, which is key in determining his treatment plan.
“Depending on the case, your vet may choose to treat with antibiotics, as well as supportive care such as fluids or bronchodilators,” Dr. Lau said. (Bronchodilators are a type of medication to make breathing easier.)
How to prevent pneumonia in dogs
According to Dr. Lau, getting your pup vaccinated will help prevent pneumonia because it’ll keep him safe against diseases that can cause it.
Specifically, the Bordetella vaccine and the DA2P vaccine (which protects against distemper, adenovirus 2 and parvovirus) will be helpful because the diseases they protect your dog from would affect his upper respiratory system.
“Depending on your pet’s lifestyle and risk factors, your vet may also recommend the canine influenza vaccine,” Dr. Lau said.
In addition to vaccinating your pup, you should also keep him away from dogs with cold-like symptoms, just to be safe.
“Avoid letting your dog socialize with other dogs who are suffering from cough or nasal discharge,” Dr. Lau said.
Pneumonia in dogs can be serious, but now that you know all about the causes, symptoms, treatment and prevention, you can help keep your BFF safe from this respiratory condition.