Pneumonia in Dogs
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How can I treat my dog's pneumonia at home?
All dogs have lungs and these important parts of the lower respiratory tract can develop a variety of problems, including pneumonia. Like humans, pneumonia can prevent a dog from breathing and can even be life-threatening. By better understanding this problem and being able to recognize some of the signs and symptoms of this disease, pet owners can be better prepared to care for a pet with pneumonia.
What is pneumonia?
Pneumonia is a disease that affects the lungs. Inflammation within the microscopic parts of the lungs called air sacs causes swelling, pus, and fluids that make it difficult for the dog to breathe. The lungs are not normally filled with fluid or pus, so there is less room for air to fill these balloon-like structures in the chest when they are present.
Signs of pneumonia in dogs
- Short, shallow breaths
- Yellow, green, or bloody mucus from the nose or after coughing
- Difficulty breathing
- Blue, gray, or purple mucous membranes.
- Loss of appetite
The signs of pneumonia in dogs are usually the same as in humans. Whenever the lower airways are compromised, there may be shortness of breath. This is most easily recognized by short, shallow breaths that can lead to hyperventilation and a cough that can produce mucus. This mucoid discharge is usually green, yellow, or even bloody when there is an infection, and infection is quite common with pneumonia. Colored mucus can be seen coming out of the nose as well as after a productive cough. A rectal body temperature above normal of 101-102.5 degrees indicates a fever, which is also commonly seen in a dog with pneumonia, due to a secondary infection within the lungs.
Since the lungs cannot function effectively in a dog with pneumonia, oxygen does not move through the body very well. Mucous membranes stained blue, gray, or purple can be seen if oxygenation is extremely poor along with lethargy and fatigue. In addition to the other symptoms, a dog with pneumonia also can't smell his food and just doesn't feel well, so he often doesn't eat much, if at all.
Causes of pneumonia in dogs
Pneumonia can be caused by irritation, injury, or, more often, infection of the lungs. Some examples of these causes include:
- Inhaled irritants: Inhaled aerosols, smoke, air pollutants, and other irritants can cause inflammation of the lungs and lead to pneumonia. Pets that live in homes where their owners smoke are more likely to develop lung problems than their human counterparts.
- Aspiration: Aspiration occurs when food or other liquid or solid material is accidentally inhaled into the lungs. This can be seen in a dog that is vomiting. It is also a possible complication associated with anesthesia.
- Diseases: There are many diseases that can affect a dog's immune system or compromise its airways, including megaesophagus, cleft palate, cancer, laryngeal paralysis, and others. These illnesses can make a dog more prone to developing a bacterial infection in the lungs that causes pneumonia.
- Viruses: Secondary bacterial infections and inflammation from viral infections such as parainfluenza, canine adenovirus type 2, and canine flu can occur in a dog and cause pneumonia. These viral infections are often easily passed from one dog to another.
- Bacteria: The most common cause of pneumonia, bacteria such as Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Bordetella bronchiseptica, Streptococcus zooepidemicus, Pasteurella multocida, Klebsiella pneumonia, and different Mycoplasma species often lead to infections that lead to pneumonia. These bacteria can even be passed from one dog to another.
- Trauma: If a chest injury occurs, a dog can develop inflammation of the lungs. Pneumonia can result from being hit by a car, falling from a balcony, or any other injury to the chest.
Diagnosis of pneumonia in dogs
A veterinarian will perform a complete physical exam on a dog after the owner notices characteristic symptoms of pneumonia. The vet will check for a runny nose, cough, take the dog's temperature, and listen to the lungs with a stethoscope. If pneumonia is suspected, x-rays of the lungs should be taken to look for fluid and inflammation. Sometimes a bronchial lavage is also done to check for bacteria in the lungs. A sample of nasal discharge or lung fluid from the lavage may be sent for microbial culture or cytology to see what type of bacteria is causing pneumonia. Finally, blood tests are often checked to see if an infection is systemic by looking for an increase in the number of white blood cells.
Treatment of pneumonia in dogs
Pneumonia is usually treated in a veterinary hospital to monitor a dog's breathing and administer medication. Pneumonia can be life-threatening, making it a serious illness. Medications including antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, cough suppressants, expectorants, bronchodilators, and sometimes even steroids can be used to control pneumonia symptoms. A cut may be made to break up the mucus within the lungs, humidifiers or nebulizers may be used to loosen the mucus, and brief sessions of exercise may be necessary to encourage the dog to cough up the mucus.
Dogs with pneumonia often don't want to eat, but proper nutrition is important to help them recover. Techniques such as reheating food and offering very smelly baby or canned food can be used to entice an animal to eat. There are also medications to stimulate your appetite. In severe cases, a feeding tube may need to be placed. IV fluids are also often needed to prevent dehydration and to administer medications. Finally, if oxygen levels are low, supplemental oxygen may also be needed to help a dog with pneumonia get enough oxygen to flow through his body.
How to prevent pneumonia in dogs
The best way to prevent a dog from developing bacterial or viral pneumonia is to vaccinate against these diseases. The most common causes of pneumonia have vaccines available for them, but keeping a dog out of a known infected area is also recommended. Places frequented by dogs, including dog parks, dog daycare centers, and boarding houses, can harbor bacteria and viruses that can cause pneumonia. If a dog is coughing or showing signs of pneumonia or another respiratory illness, the other dogs should also be kept away.
If inhaled irritants are your concern, keeping the air clean where a dog lives can reduce the likelihood of it causing pneumonia. Air purifiers can help keep the air in the home clean, pet owners should never smoke in the home or near their pets, and aerosols should be avoided.
Is pneumonia contagious?
If a dog's pneumonia is caused by a virus or bacteria, then yes, it can be contagious. If pneumonia is caused by aspiration, irritant, or trauma and inflammation without infection, it is not contagious, but there are still concerns about developing an infection. Certainly, if a dog is diagnosed with pneumonia, it is best to keep him isolated and away from other pets.
Enjoy The Video Tutorial about Dog with Pneumonia
Source: Vet Ranch
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