What are Allergic Bronchitis?
Allergies are caused by the aggressive response of specialized immune cells to an allergen. When an allergen activates the immune system, it manufactures a protein that causes the immune cells to release histamine, a naturally occurring compound that has an inflammatory effect on the tissues it comes into contact with. When the histamine causes inflammation to the bronchial tubes, the swelling can make it difficult to breathe and causes wheezing and shortness of breath. It is also referred to as canine asthma and can be either chronic or acute.
Allergic bronchitis is the narrowing of the airways due to inflammation and swelling of the bronchi caused by exposure to an allergen. This disorder can be either chronic or acute.
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Symptoms of Allergic Bronchitis in Dogs
Dogs tend to be more susceptible to an attack of allergic bronchitis after exertion. The wheezing that is the distinguishing symptom of this disorder is usually followed by a dry, hacking cough. Although mucus may be present in the bronchial tubes, the cough is non-productive. The continuing cough often causes the airways to constrict further, which restricts the amount of air entering the lungs, causing exhaustion and loss of appetite. If the lack of oxygen continues long enough, the gums will turn blue. When this occurs, the situation is life-threatening, and your pet needs emergency intervention.
Chronic allergic bronchitis is allergic bronchitis that lasts or reoccurs over several months. The most common environmental allergies, like pollens, molds, and dust, usually cause chronic allergic bronchitis. Several circumstances can trigger episodes of chronic allergic bronchitis such as obesity in the patient, long-term exposure to cold temperatures, and changes in exertion levels.
Acute allergic bronchitis is an allergic reaction that occurs either just once or over a period of just a few days or weeks. This may take place as a result of being triggered by an allergen that just isn’t encountered often, or it may be that a particular condition is triggering an allergic reaction that otherwise is too mild to detect like a bacterial or viral illness, or cross-reactive allergies.
Causes of Allergic Bronchitis in Dogs
When allergic bronchitis arises, the histamine that is released by the immune system, attacks the bronchial tubes, causing inflammation and swelling that can cause serious health concerns.There are several types of common environmental allergens that can trigger bronchitis. Common causes of allergic bronchitis can include:
- Cigarette smoke
- Aerosol sprays
- Dust mites
- Grain mites
Diagnosis of Allergic Bronchitis in Dogs
Bronchitis in canines can be caused by a number of disorders, including allergies. During the physical exam to diagnose your canine, special attention will be paid to the respiratory sounds and the color of your canine’s gums. In order to diagnose an ongoing cough, with or without attendant bronchitis, chest x-rays are often recommended to determine the condition of the lungs.
Blood and fecal tests may be run at this time as well. These tests can reveal a number of disorders with similar symptoms, such as kennel cough, fungal infections, or pneumonia. The blood work, as well as any analysis of other secretions, should show elevated levels of a particular type of cell called an eosinophil. Eosinophils are often elevated in response to fungal and parasitic diseases as well as during allergic reactions. A bronchoscopy may also be employed in order in order to look directly into the airway to check for parasites, foreign bodies, and tumors that may otherwise remain hidden.
Treatment of Allergic Bronchitis in Dogs
The most effective treatment for allergic bronchitis is avoidance of the allergen. Because many allergens that cause bronchitis are airborne, it can be challenging to avoid the allergen so other methods may need to be employed. Your veterinarian may want to prescribe antihistamines to reduce the reactions to the histamine that has been released into the bloodstream. Antihistamines are not as effective in canines as they are in humans, however, and are successful in less than half the cases.
Bronchodilators and corticosteroids may also be used to allow the bronchial tubes to open by relaxing the muscles around the airway walls. Bronchodilators can be administered from a specially made canine inhaler, or as a pill, capsule, or syrup. Bronchodilators can lead to an increased heart rate, nervousness, or tremors in dogs and are not recommended for animals with high blood pressure or heart conditions. Antibiotics may also be recommended in the event that a concurrent bacterial infection also affects the patient.
Recovery of Allergic Bronchitis in Dogs
Asthma inhalers may be recommended for dogs with allergic bronchitis that have attacks once a week or more. Inhalers for dogs are built on the same principle as human inhalers for similar disorders, but more closely resemble the asthma inhalers designed for small children. The asthma inhaler has a mask to place over the dog’s muzzle, which should be kept in place for at least 10 seconds per dose. The inhaler targets the respiratory system directly rather than having to be transported through the digestive system like pills or syrups will have to and are metered to help prevent cases of overdose.
Allergic Bronchitis Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
Have rescued a 14-16 months old mixed Shepherd dog from Iran. 2-3 days after her arrival, she started coughing. Initially Vet thought it was Kennel cough. Treated her with antibiotics. After no response to treatment, we had x-ray and CT scan, that showed Bulla of Right upper lob. Bronchial wash showed many eosinophil. My question is does Bulla causes cough? Do we need to take care of her cough before having surgery done?
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I have a 2 year old Italian Greyhound/mix that I adopted from a shelter at 12 weeks old. The day I brought him home he had a cough. Dr believed it to be kennel cough and did no treatment. Two years later and he is still coughing. I had a full blood panel done a month ago to rule out any infection or *gasp* cancer. All bloodwork normal, organ functions normal. Took him in today for chest x-rays. Rylie is showing signs of bronchitis. Dr wants to treat him with antibiotics, bronchodilator, and prednisone. He only coughs when barking and not every time he barks. My question - how can it be bronchitis needing antibiotics if white cell count is normal? Wouldn't this be more of an allergy type bronchitis? Rylie is not over weight, he has no issues with eating or going potty, he wants to play and run.
I'm not wanting to give him antibiotics unless he really really needs it. I get this Dr doesn't know "why" and is going with standard protocol, but Rylie nor I are standard. HELP! Should we see an allergist?
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I was walking my 7 years old westy 10 days ago and suddenly she had a tremendous neck pain. I took her to the vet and she prescribed her Metacan 10 ML and Tramadol 50 MG, I gave her these medications for only 2 days because they made her way to sleepy and nauseous. Right after I stoped the medication she develops this severe cough, I take her to a different Dr., they did radiographies and blood work, her blood work was fine. They diagnosed her with Allergic Bronchitis, they prescribed her with Diphenhydramine and Doxycycline. She has been in this treatment for 3 days, her cough has reduced but she has no energy whatsoever, she can barely walk, she is also suddenly not well, she cried yesterday for no apparent reason, she is dissoriented and has extreme fatigue, she can barely climb steps and can no longer jump in the couch. This is a nightmare, I feel that she is slowly dying on me, please help.
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I have a Cocker Spaniel that has had a cough on and off for 2 years. I have brought her in several times and this last time took X-rays again and did see something. Sent off to the radiogist and they felt she had Chronic Allergic Bronchitis. Had her on Doxycydine 100 mg 2x a day andHydrocodoone-hometroine 5mg 2x per day. Did this for 3 weeks and now she is coughing again. In the past we have tried Predisone and other antibioctics and so far nothing has worked. She is 10 1/2 yrs old. Any other suggestions?
With allergic bronchitis, for as long as the dog is exposed to an allergen or irritant they will continue to cough; identification for the cause of the cough may become a long unrewarding process. Treatment with hydrocodone-homatropine is a usual step to manage cough caused by bronchitis; there are other treatment options (like bronchodilators) are available but may still be unrewarding and should be discussed with your Veterinarian as Charlene may not be a suitable for some treatments. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
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