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Asthma in Dogs: Signs, Symptoms & Treatment Options

Similar to humans, dogs can suffer from asthma attacks ranging from mild to severe. Today, our Huntersville vets describe signs and symptoms of asthma in dogs, what to do if your dog has an attack, and how we can treat it. 


What is asthma in dogs?

In dogs, asthma is an allergic disease that’s much less common for our canine friends than in felines. Asthma attacks occur when a dog has an allergic reaction to an irritant. The airway becomes inflamed, resulting in constriction and spasming of the lungs’ small airways.

The disease has typically been seen in middle-aged dogs and some young dogs. Small dogs are more likely to be diagnosed with the condition than large dogs.

What are the symptoms of asthma in dogs?

Symptoms of asthma in dogs may include:

  • Persistent cough
  • Loss of energy
  • Difficulty breathing (often sudden)
  • Rapid breathing
  • Heavy panting with mouth wide open
  • Wheezing
  • Bluish colored gums (caused by lack of oxygen)
  • Loss of appetite

If your dog is exhibiting any of these symptoms, contact your vet immediately. While asthma may cause these symptoms, several other serious conditions can cause similar symptoms, and it’s critical to accurately diagnose the trigger.

How is asthma diagnosed in dogs?

Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical examination to get an accurate picture of your dog’s general health and rule out other potential causes for these symptoms, such as heartworm disease, heart disease and bacterial infections. Other diagnostic tests such as heartworm testing or x-rays may be recommended to give your vet further understanding of your pet’s condition.

What treatment options are there for dogs with asthma?

Depending on the severity and frequency of your dog’s asthma attacks, anti-inflammatory steroid medications may help to control symptoms and prevent long-term lung damage. Asthma attacks can cause permanent damage to a dog’s lungs, which is why symptoms should always be taken seriously and you should contact your vet if you see any of these.

Can dogs have asthma inhalers?

Asthma inhalers may be prescribed in some cases. Albuterol sulfate (commonly sold under the brand names Ventolin or Proventil) can help the airway muscles to relax, which will improve your dog’s breathing. Always consult your veterinarian before giving your dog any medication. Many human medications are toxic to dogs.

How can I help my dog avoid asthma attacks?

Some of the most common triggers of asthma attacks in dogs include pollen, mould, cigarette smoke and cleaning products. If you and your vet are able to identify the cause behind your dog’s asthma attacks, avoid bringing the allergen into your home, as this is the best thing you can do to help your dog.

The less your dog is exposed to the irritant, the fewer attacks he or she will likely experience.

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 having problems breathing or have you noticed symptoms of asthma? Contact our Huntersville, Mecklenburg County vets right away to book an appointment.

Asthma in Dogs | Huntersville Vet

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