Breathing and respiratory problems in dogs can be very scary to dog owners. When you notice that your dog is having difficulty breathing, it is important that you take them in to see a veterinarian. Unfortunately, not all respiratory conditions are easy to diagnose and treat, but visiting an internal medicine specialist at AESC Parker, can be very beneficial when it comes to helping your dog feel better.
Common Respiratory Problems
There are a number of different diseases and conditions that directly affect the lungs. In dogs, these diseases include:
- Canine Distemper Virus: Distemper affects not only the respiratory system but also the nervous and gastrointestinal systems. This virus spreads quickly in areas where dogs are kept in close proximity to one another. Treatment options are limited in dogs with distemper. Vaccinations are available for distemper from your family veterinarian, however.
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): COPD is a long-term condition that causes inflammation in the pulmonary or respiratory system. It is irreversible and progresses slowly. It can also be called chronic bronchitis. While COPD can’t be cured, treatments can help manage the disease. Possible treatments include antibiotics, bronchodilators, and chest physiotherapy.
- Kennel Cough: Kennel cough is a highly contagious illness that can be caused by either bacteria or a virus. It is called kennel cough because it quickly spreads through dogs when they are in close contact with one another, much like dogs in boarding facilities. Kennel cough is most common in middle to late summer. Antibiotics can help treat dogs who come down with kennel
- Pneumonia: This lung infection causes inflammation of the lungs. The causes of pneumonia range from allergens, lungworms, bacteria, viruses, and aspirated food, fluids, or foreign bodies. Antibiotics can be used to treat pneumonia. Fluid therapy and chest percussion can also help dogs with pneumonia.
- Lung Tumors: Lung tumors often are caused by tumors from other parts of the body such as the abdominal organ, bones, or skin. The most common tumor that originates in the lungs is pulmonary adenocarcinoma. Most of these tumors are malignant. Most often, pulmonary adenocarcinoma occurs in animals over the age of 11. In dogs, lung tumors are difficult to treat. Surgery can be a viable option, but if the tumor has spread, it may not be effective.
- Colds and Flu: Much like humans, dogs can get colds and flu. The canine versions of these illnesses can have many of the same symptoms as they do in humans, and they can lead to much more serious illnesses if not treated. Most of the time, the immune system is strong enough that treatment isn’t warranted. However, dogs with severe symptoms may need supportive care such as fluids, antibiotics, and supplemental feedings.
Symptoms of Respiratory Problems
The most common signs of respiratory problems include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Gagging after coughing
- Nasal congestion
- Exercise intolerance
- Blue gums
Depending on the condition, other symptoms may also be present. Lethargy, fever, lack of appetite, and numerous other systems may also be noticeable to pet owners.
Diagnosing and Treating Respiratory Problems
Some respiratory conditions can be diagnosed by a family veterinarian. However, they often require treatment from an internal medicine specialist like those at AESC Parker. Diagnosing these conditions may require x-rays and other tests. An internal medicine specialist can run all necessary tests to determine the cause of your dog’s lung problems.
Treatments are different for different respiratory conditions. Antibiotics can be helpful in some cases, but they won’t help all conditions. Respiratory and ventilatory therapies can help with lung problems. Ventilator treatments can also be helpful for a dog with breathing troubles.
Preventing Respiratory Problems
Not all respiratory problems can be prevented, but there are flu and kennel cough vaccines from your family veterinarian that can help prevent your dog from getting sick. Like human flu spots, there is always a possibility that your dog will get a strain that they weren’t vaccinated for, but often the vaccine is very effective in preventing illness.
In the case of some of these illnesses, the best thing you can do for your pet is just to watch for signs of illness. If you happen to notice any symptoms that appear to be respiratory conditions, contact your veterinarian right away.
If your dog has been diagnosed with a respiratory condition, call AESC Parker today at 720-842-5050. Our internal medicine team can work with you to come up with a treatment plan that will help your pet feel better. In some cases, these illnesses can’t be cured, but with proper treatment, your dog can feel much better. AESC Parker has helped dogs will all kinds of respiratory problems in the Denver, Colorado, area.