Being diagnosed with pneumonia is never a good thing in people or in dogs. Pneumonia is a very serious medical condition that is known to cause significant damage to the lower respiratory tract and lungs. If it is left untreated in either people or dogs, the end result can be, and often is, death. While frequent coughing may be a sign of pneumonia, it can also be a sign of several other conditions such as kennel cough, heart disease, and an upper respiratory infection.
Worth noting is that pneumonia in dogs is a relatively rare condition. The coughing tends to be somewhat loose and gurgly, which is indicative of the presence of fluid in the dog's lungs. If you hear this type of cough coming from your four-legged friend, it's time to take him to see his vet.
Causes of Pneumonia in Dogs
Pneumonia is the result of inflammation of either the lower respiratory tract or the lungs themselves. There are several causes of this inflammation including bacteria, fungi, parasites, or viruses. In many cases, bacterial or viral pneumonia is a secondary condition resulting from another infection such as bronchitis, kennel cough, or parainfluenza.
Bronchitis in dogs typically starts out as a dry, hacking cough that can last for up to 2 months. There are several causes of canine bronchitis, including a respiratory tract infection and the inhalation of chemicals or other irritants, such as cleaning products. Other allergens such as powdered feed products, room deodorizers, and household dust can also lead to bronchitis that, left untreated, can turn into pneumonia.
The best way to prevent canine bronchitis is to keep your home environment free of things like airborne irritants, dust, and chemical fumes. You should also try to keep your dog away from areas where chemical fumes are present in the air outside. If your dog shows any signs of a bronchial infection, take him in to see the vet for a checkup and treatment.
Kennel cough is an extremely contagious disease that dogs can get if they spend time in close proximity to other dogs, such as in a boarding kennel. The best way to prevent this condition is to keep your dog out of these situations.
There is also a preventative vaccination that is designed to protect your dog from the Bordetella bacterium that is often responsible for kennel cough. The medication is given in two separate doses spread out over the course of two to four weeks and then a booster that is given semi-annually or annually.
Parainfluenza is also known as canine influenza, race flu, or greyhound disease. It can spread extremely easily between dogs and, if left untreated, can be fatal. It is often mistaken by dog owners and some vets for kennel cough, which can lead to improper treatment and worsening of the condition becoming pneumonia.
The good news is that there is a vaccination available to prevent parainfluenza, but you need to talk to your vet first. You should also plan to have your dog inoculated against other respiratory infections including the Bordetella bacterium that is responsible for kennel cough.
If there is an outbreak of canine pneumonia in your area, the best form of prevention is to keep your dog completely isolated from other dogs, as the bacterium responsible for pneumonia is easily spread. You may also want to strengthen your dog's immune system by keeping him on a healthy diet. You should also practice good canine oral hygiene, talk to your vet about dietary supplements, keep his vaccinations to a minimum, and keep him well-exercised.
Importance of Preventing Pneumonia
There are several benefits to preventing your dog from contracting pneumonia, starting with having a much healthier dog. But at the same time, if you make sure your dog has the right vaccinations, eats a healthy diet, and gets plenty of exercise it will make it much less stressful if you have to kennel him or if he spends any time at all in the company of other dogs.
Along with this, when your dog is nice and healthy, you will soon find that any preventative care at the vet's office will cost you far less than emergency medical treatment for pneumonia, which can become very expensive, especially if your dog has to spend time in the hospital.
One last thing to think about, since you will need to wash your dog's bedding, bowls, and toys to limit the spread of viruses and bacteria, your home will be much cleaner and your dog will be at far less risk of coming down with another medical condition. Always remember, when in doubt about any unusual about your dog's health, call your vet and make arrangements to take him in to be seen and diagnosed, it could save his life.