Jump to section

What is Aspiration Pneumonia?

Aspiration pneumonia is a condition in which the lungs become inflamed due to inhalation, or aspiration, of a foreign substance. This usually occurs after a dog vomits and inhales a portion of the regurgitated material, and it happens more commonly in young puppies. Preventing aspiration pneumonia is easier than treating it, but if notice your dog having difficulty breathing soon after vomiting, contact a veterinarian right away.

Aspiration pneumonia occurs when a dog inhales a foreign substance, leading to a bacterial infection in the respiratory tract. The severity and sharpness of aspiration pneumonia depends on the extent of the inflammation, as well as on any underlying conditions that may have caused the vomiting. Aspiration pneumonia can be life-threatening, especially if it is severe enough to restrict the flow of oxygen.

Aspiration Pneumonia Average Cost

From 114 quotes ranging from $300 - $6,000

Average Cost

$600

Symptoms of Aspiration Pneumonia in Dogs

The signs of aspiration pneumonia include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Tachypnea, or rapid breathing
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Wheezing or coughing
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
arrow-up-icon

Top

Causes of Aspiration Pneumonia in Dogs

In the majority of cases, pneumonia is caused by a bacterial infection. Aspiration pneumonia occurs when a dog inhales fluid or other materials into the respiratory tract, leading to inflammation in the airways. Though a dog may inhale foreign material when vomiting, the act of vomiting itself does not directly lead to aspiration pneumonia. The condition only occurs when regurgitated materials are inhaled, which may be made more likely by a variety of reasons, including:

  • Disease, such as laryngeal paralysis or inflammation of the esophagus
  • Deformity, such as a cleft palate
  • General anesthesia
  • Presence of a feeding tube

Aspiration pneumonia is easier to prevent than to treat. Most veterinarians will recommend that a dog fasts prior to surgery to minimize the risk of regurgitation during anesthesia. When administrating oral medication, make sure that the medicine is given only at the speed that your dog can swallow to prevent inhalation into the respiratory tract. Young puppies, as well as dogs that are fed with a feeding tube, are at higher risk of developing the condition.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Diagnosis of Aspiration Pneumonia in Dogs

When you bring your dog to the veterinarian, be prepared to provide information about your dog’s symptoms and recent activity. The veterinarian will need a complete history in order to better diagnosis your dog’s condition. If your dog has vomited or regurgitated recently, let the veterinarian know, as many of the clinical signs associated with aspiration pneumonia are nonspecific. Knowing that your dog may have inhaled a foreign substance will help determine the necessity of a chest radiograph.

The veterinarian may perform several tests, including a physical examination and blood work, as part of the initial visit. This may help eliminate the possibility of other conditions, though aspiration pneumonia itself is typically diagnosed with thoracic radiography. A chest X-ray can confirm the presence of inflammation in the lungs. If your dog is stable enough, fluid can be taken from the lungs with a tracheal wash or endotracheal lavage and cultivated, which will identify the bacteria present in the respiratory tract.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Treatment of Aspiration Pneumonia in Dogs

Treatment for aspiration pneumonia contains several components, the majority of which are focused more on support than on addressing the condition itself. Antibiotics will be administered to fight any bacterial infection present, with broad spectrum medication given in cases where a culture could not be obtained. Depending on your dog’s condition, the veterinarian may recommend different treatment, with potential components including:

  • Fluid therapy

    - Proper hydration keeps the airway moist and encourages coughing, which helps remove pus and mucus from the respiratory tract.

  • Oxygen

    - In more severe cases, oxygen therapy may be needed to ensure that your dog is receiving enough air.

In some cases, your dog will need to be hospitalized until he is stable enough to transition to homecare. If there is an underlying cause for the aspiration pneumonia, such as a cleft palate or a tumor, that condition will also need to be addressed in order to prevent a reoccurrence of pneumonia. The prognosis for aspiration pneumonia is generally good but varies depending on the cause of the vomiting.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Recovery of Aspiration Pneumonia in Dogs

Once your dog has been released from the hospital, you will need to keep him quiet and calm during the recovery period. Be sure to outfit an area for your dog to rest comfortably, and make sure he has access to fresh water. You will need to monitor your dog’s cough, as well as watch for any changes in other clinical signs.

Depending on the extent of the pneumonia, you may need to bring your dog back to the veterinarian for a follow-up exam. The veterinarian may wish to conduct another chest radiograph to ensure that the inflammation is resolving and that your dog is recovering properly. If the vomiting was caused by an underlying condition, you might need to address the cause so that the aspiration pneumonia does not recur.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Cost of Aspiration Pneumonia in Dogs

Each case of aspiration pneumonia is different as each can have a different cause. If there are any underlying causes of the vomiting (i.e. cleft palate, tumor etc.) then the cause would be treated as well. The veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics in order to treat the aspiration pneumonia if infection presents itself. Antibiotics can cost anywhere between $10 and $40. Fluid therapy may be administered if your dog is severely dehydrated from the vomiting. Fluid therapy usually costs between $40 and $72 per treatment. Your dog may also need oxygen support which can cost $120 to $140. The veterinarian will need to hospitalize your dog for observation and to ensure your dog is progressing. If your dog is only hospitalized for the day then it may only cost $40-$55. However, it may cost between $67 and $75 for additional days. The total cost of the above treatment options can run between $210 and $395. However, without knowing the cause, it is difficult to know the complete total cost.

arrow-up-icon

Top

*Wag! may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Items are sold by the retailer, not Wag!.

Aspiration Pneumonia Average Cost

From 114 quotes ranging from $300 - $6,000

Average Cost

$600

arrow-up-icon

Top

Aspiration Pneumonia Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

question-icon-cta

Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

French Bulldog

dog-age-icon

Eight Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Breathing Difficulty, Wont Lay Down, Difficulty Breathing

She wont lay down. She falls asleep standing up and just randomly falls over. Has trouble breathing and she does have a cleft palate. Just started doing this yesterday.

July 27, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Ellen M. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Hello, thank you for your question. I am very sorry to hear that your dog is having trouble breathing. This sounds very serious and I would treat it as an emergency. I recommend taking your dog to an emergency veterinary clinic IMMEDIATELY. It sounds like your dog is in severe respiratory distress and may also be having syncopal (fainting) episodes). I hope that your dog starts feeling better soon. Please seem medical attention right away.

July 27, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

French Bulldog

dog-age-icon

8 weeks

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Sneezing

i gave her liquid benadryl by doc orders and i think she inhaled some

July 25, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Unless she inhaled a lot, it will probably just irritate her nose for a little while. If things pass within an hour or two, she should be fine. If she continues sneezing or coughing, it would probably be best to have her seen by a veterinarian so they can assess her lungs and her nose. I hope that all goes well for her.

July 25, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Labrador Retriever

dog-age-icon

3 days old

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Noisy Breathing

Have been bottle feeding her as her mum doesn’t have any milk. It has been sounding wheezy after being left alone while sleeping then when she’s moving around it goes back to normal

July 20, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Gina U. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Hello Has your puppy been checked for a cleft palate? If she has one, that can cause aspiration. Or perhaps her suckle reflex is poor? If she is wheezing, I recommend that you take her to a veterinarian for an exam and chest x-rays. They may want to check to make sure she does not have pneumonia. Good luck.

July 20, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Labrador Retriever

dog-age-icon

3 days old

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Noisy Breathing

Have been bottle feeding her as her mum doesn’t have any milk. It has been sounding wheezy after being left alone while sleeping then when she’s moving around it goes back to normal

July 20, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Gina U. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Hello Has your puppy been checked for a cleft palate? If she has one, that can cause aspiration. Or perhaps her suckle reflex is poor? If she is wheezing, I recommend that you take her to a veterinarian for an exam and chest x-rays. They may want to check to make sure she does not have pneumonia. Good luck.

July 20, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Labrador Retriever

dog-age-icon

3 days old

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Noisy Breathing

Have been bottle feeding her as her mum doesn’t have any milk. It has been sounding wheezy after being left alone while sleeping then when she’s moving around it goes back to normal

July 20, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Gina U. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Hello Has your puppy been checked for a cleft palate? If she has one, that can cause aspiration. Or perhaps her suckle reflex is poor? If she is wheezing, I recommend that you take her to a veterinarian for an exam and chest x-rays. They may want to check to make sure she does not have pneumonia. Good luck.

July 20, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Patsy

dog-breed-icon

Pomeranian

dog-age-icon

1 Year

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Coughing

My dog barks while she has food in her mouth because she hears my neighbors coming in. After she barks she always coughs because she’s doing it with food in her mouth. She acts completely normal afterwards; plays, eats, and drinks. I’m worried that she could of aspirated her food. If she’s acting fine and not coughing should I be worried?

dog-name-icon

Patsy

dog-breed-icon

Pomeranian

dog-age-icon

1 Year

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Coughing

My dog eats her food (in a slow feeding bowl). As I live in an apartment, when my neighbors come home she hears it and barks even when she has food in her mouth. When this happens she coughs then acts completely normal; she is still eating, drinking, and playing. She has done this maybe 2 other times. I am worried that she could have aspirated her food or will in the future. How would I know if she did aspirate? Would she be coughing more right away?

dog-name-icon

Susie

dog-breed-icon

English Bulldog

dog-age-icon

5 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Breathing Difficulty
Loud Breathing
Coughing
Vomiting
No Active
No Apetite
Lethargy
Elivates Head To Breath

Our 5 months old english bulldog is now in hospital with a chance of having aspiration pneumonia. 2 weeks ago she stopped taking meds for bronchitis and everything was fine for next 10 days. Few days ago she started having bad cough again and she kept vomiting and we went to vet. She got some shots and started going for few hours hospitalization for drips, oxygen therapy and a nebulizer but we couldnt see any imrprovement. She seemed to better last evening but this morning she got way worse with very loud breathing. Now she needs to stay in hospital for more oxygen and nebulization. We are really affraid about our little baby and wandering what else would be good to check in this case? We already know her trachea is not wide enough.

dog-name-icon

Bubba

dog-breed-icon

Dachshund

dog-age-icon

5 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy, Vomiting
Lethargy, Vomiting, Throat Tightens

Bubba has been gradually getting worse with starting to cough and his throat tightens up and he expels his food and water. Dr gave him xray and ct to check for masses but came back with partial paralyzed esophagus and aspirated pneumonia. We are looking into getting him a baileys chair in the meantime we are giving him his food on a step up spot in the house to elevate his upper body. Is there any other advice to help manage his situation? Or any communities we can discuss this issue with other owners in this position

dog-name-icon

Bentley

dog-breed-icon

French Bulldog

dog-age-icon

12 Weeks

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

My French Bulldog is 12 weeks old & this morning when i got him out of bed he vomited. He then vomited another 3 times while getting him ready for the vet. The vet has examined him & said that he has fluid in his lungs which could be from aspiration of his vomit. Firstly i don't know why he was vomiting. We feed him kibbles with greek yogurt & i think it is possible the greek yogurt may have been off or left out too long. What are the treatments if he has aspiration from this ?

Aspiration Pneumonia Average Cost

From 114 quotes ranging from $300 - $6,000

Average Cost

$600

How can we help your pet?