Can Dogs Get Congested?

Have you seen your dog coughing, having difficulty breathing, or with a runny nose? A hacking cough, runny nose or difficulty breathing can be symptoms of a lung or respiratory congestion.


In humans, these are signs that tell you that you have the flu or that your flu is getting worse. Lung congestion in humans happens when fluid and mucus accumulate in the lungs.

The cause of this condition can be an allergy, irritation, contraction of a virus or bacteria or high blood pressure.

To prevent lung congestion, you should:

•    Exercise.

•    Stop smoking.

•    Drink lots of water.

•    Include foods rich in Vitamin A and E in your diet.

Can Dogs Get Congested?


Dogs can get lung congestion, too. Don't worry, your dog cannot contract it from you, but they may still develop respiratory congestion from coming in contact with something they are allergic to, they may inhale smoke, or become infected with a bacteria or virus. In some cases, the respiratory congestion may itself be a symptom of heart failure or COPD, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, which is commonly known as 'old dog lungs.'

Does My Dog Have Congestion?

Your dog may develop a hacking cough that sounds like it is being dragged from the depths of his lungs. She may have a fever, discoloration around the gums and lips, difficulty breathing or mucus running from her nostrils. You might also start to notice that he starts panting a lot more, in situations that he would have had no problem with before. These are the symptoms you should look for, and if you notice any of them, it's always best to take your dog to the veterinarian since these symptoms could be a sign of something more serious like heart failure or COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease).

Hearing your dog cough or seeing any excessive panting is not enough to diagnose your dog with a respiratory congestion. When you notice these symptoms in your dog, the best course of action is to take your canine friend to the veterinarian. The vet will listen to the dog's chest, consider the dog's history, and may perform an X-ray of the chest or run some blood tests to diagnose and administer the adequate treatment. If a heart issue is suspected, then an electrocardiogram (EKG) and ultrasound of the heart may be required.

How Do I Treat My Dog's Congestion?

If your dog has been diagnosed with a respiratory congestion, you and your vet can choose to treat the congestion with conventional medicine, you can go the natural way and use herbs, or you could sometimes use both.

Treatment depends on the cause. If your dog's heart is originating the congestion as a symptom, then cardiac drugs, diuretics and herbs like hawthorn, dandelion or the supplement CoQ10 may be in order.

On the other hand, if your dog's congestion is originated by an allergy to something in the environment, then antihistamines, steroids or hyposensitization injections would be included in the treatment. In this case, dandelion and yucca are some herbs you can include, although you should always confirm any treatment with your vet.

Finally, if the congestion originates as a result of your dog developing 'old dog lung,' then hawthorn and dandelion could be discussed with your vet and be used to relieve the symptoms.

During the recovery period, you should treat your canine friend just the way you would treat a sick child or even yourself. Also, as you administer the medication recommended by the veterinarian, you can also consider giving your dog warm liquids to drink, although you shouldn't force him to drink them if he doesn't want to. Another option is to give your dog a steam treatment by putting a hot bowl of water near her nostrils as she sleeps, although this might depend on each dog. If you do use this option, make sure you're there to actively supervise the situation. It's only a couple of minutes, but you need to protect your dog from drinking the hot water or spilling it over.

How is Congestion Similar in Dogs and Humans?

Congestion in dogs and humans tends to be similar in that they display the same symptoms, like:

•    A runny nose

•    Coughing

•    Difficulty breathing

•    Fever

How is Congestion Different in Dogs and Humans?

The main difference between congestion in humans and congestion in dogs is a very important one because, in dogs, congestion can potentially be a symptom of heart failure. This doesn't happen in humans.

Case Study

If your dog's lungs become filled with fluid from the congestion, then the dog may present a life-threatening state known as respiratory distress. In this case, your vet will need to remove some of the fluid via syringe.

And although it's not seen in humans, congestive heart failure is one of the most common causes of lung congestion in dogs. A vet will need to give your dog diuretics to help remove fluid from the lungs and will probably recommend dietary changes. Dogs suffering from congestive heart failure should not be allowed to exercise heavily, and should constantly be monitored for any signs of their condition worsening.

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