Acute Bronchitis in Dogs

Acute bronchitis in dogs may be either primary or secondary. Although the onset can be somewhat of an alarming situation for a dog owner, acute bronchitis in dogs is completely treatable, and methods of treatment are generally very successful.

Acute Bronchitis Explained

First, it is important to understand exactly what bronchitis is. In dogs, the bronchioles are tubes that act as airways into the lungs. When these become inflamed and irritated due to infection or irritation, the condition is known as bronchitis.

Bronchitis in dogs can be either acute or chronic. In chronic cases, dogs are more susceptible to developing conditions that affect their bronchioles, such as allergies, head colds, infections, etc. This occurs in a repetitive nature and flares up when the dog is exposed to an irritant. In cases of acute bronchitis, however, the onset of symptoms is very quick and usually caused by a bacterial or viral infection.

There does not appear to be any breed or sex predilection toward developing acute bronchitis, although, puppies and dogs with compromised immune systems are more likely to develop acute bronchitis.

Signs and Symptoms

The signs of acute bronchitis in dogs are typically very noticeable and begin almost immediately after infection. Any of the following symptoms could be indicative of acute bronchitis:

  • Persistent coughing or hacking
  • Productive mucous discharge after coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Elevated temperature
  • Fatigue and loss of energy

If any of these symptoms are noticed, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.

Making a Diagnosis

In order to diagnose acute bronchitis in dogs, the medical history and present symptoms of the dog will be examined carefully. The next step would be to perform a blood test, in which the white blood cell count and other agents are checked in order to identify if any infection is present.

On auscultation of the chest, listening to the breath sounds with a stethoscope, the movement of mucus can typically be heard in the lungs, indicating that the bronchioles are likely inflamed. In cases where the symptoms are extremely severe, a chest x-ray or bronchoscopy may be performed to get a closer look at the lungs.

Methods of Treatment

In minor cases, antibiotic and liquid therapy may be all that is needed to treat acute bronchitis in dogs. Medications may also be given to help make the cough more productive, alleviating the buildup of congestion in the bronchial structures. The key to treatment, however, is to ensure that the root cause is properly identified and treated so that the chances of recurrence are reduced. When allergic triggers are suspected, medications may be administered to help alleviate symptoms in dogs, associated with allergic susceptibility.

In more severe cases, breathing treatments may be necessary to help the dog breath comfortably until the condition can be cleared. Further testing with x-rays may also be necessary, especially if treatment of acute bronchitis is not successful initially.