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Signs & Symptoms of Pneumonia in Dogs

We may not always think of our dogs being at risk for pneumonia. However, they can develop the condition. Our Huntersville vets share symptoms of pneumonia in dogs and explain how the condition is treated. 


What is pneumonia in dogs?

Similar to humans, pneumonia can impact a dog’s respiratory system, interfering with your pup’s ability to breathe properly. While recovery from some forms of pneumonia takes longer than others, most dogs will recover well with treatment.

You’ll want to be vigilant, though, as this condition may lead to serious issues if left untreated.

What is infectious pneumonia?

Infectious pneumonia is also known as bacterial pneumonia, and it is the most common type of pneumonia in dogs. A bacterial or viral infection can cause this condition to develop in your dog’s airways.

Bordetella bronchiseptica is one of the bacteria most commonly linked to the condition. It is easily transmittable between young puppies or senior dogs with a compromised immune system.

What are symptoms of infectious pneumonia in dogs?

You may notice one or more of these symptoms if your dog is suffering from infectious pneumonia:

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

Keep your dog away from other household pets if he or she has been diagnosed with infectious material. You’ll also want to wash collars, leashes, bowls and bedding frequently to avoid the illness spreading to other pets.

What is aspiration pneumonia?

Aspiration pneumonia can develop in dogs that have a neuromuscular disorder that impacts respiratory function, or if he or she has an abnormality of the pharynx. The condition can also occur if your pooch accidentally inhales vomit or medication.

In some cases, an incorrectly placed feeding tube can be the culprit, or acid reflux may cause frequent regurgitation and an enlarged lower esophagus. These conditions can also result in aspiration pneumonia.

What are symptoms of aspiration pneumonia in dogs?

Aspiration pneumonia can act similar to infectious bacterial pneumonia. The following are signs of aspiration pneumonia in dogs:

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

However, aspiration pneumonia can also lead to other symptoms, including:

  • Altered mood
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Frequent regurgitation
  • Bluish-colored skin

If your dog displays any of these signs, contact your vet right away to book an appointment. Early detection, diagnosis and treatment may help to prevent more severe symptoms from developing. Once symptoms grow more severe, they can be more challenging to treat.

How is pneumonia in dogs treated?

Typically, your vet will prescribe medications for diagnoses of aspiration or bacterial pneumonia. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications for fever and pain, and bronchodilators and expectorants for coughing and breathing issues may be required to treat the condition.

If your dog has a severe case of pneumonia, hospitalization and supplemental oxygen, along with intravenous antibiotics and fluid therapy may be key to recovery.

How can I help my dog recover from pneumonia?

You’ll receive specific instructions from your vet on how to care for your dog with pneumonia through every stage of recovery. Instructions for care will likely include:

  • Providing lots of fresh water to ensure he or she stays hydrated
  • Keeping other pets and small children away from your dog so he or she can get plenty of rest, and so others don’t get sick
  • Putting your dog on restricted physical activity while they recover
  • Using a steam treatment by running a hot shower to treat the pneumonia, while you sit with him in the bathroom or shower room

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

Is your dog showing symptoms of pneumonia? At LakeCross Veterinary Hospital, our Huntersville vets can diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions. Book an appointment today.

Pneumonia in Dogs | Huntersville Vet

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