Allergic Bronchitis in Dogs

Allergic bronchitis in dogs is known to be a specific type of asthma. Both bronchitis and asthma cause mucus to build in the bronchial tubes, which are the passageways in the lungs. Those passageways are what allow a dog to inhale oxygen and excrete carbon dioxide; when they become clogged with mucus, it makes breathing difficult and labored. The reason that asthma and allergic bronchitis are so closely related is because they are both triggered by allergens, or irritants to the bronchial tubes. Because allergic bronchitis can cause life-threatening episodes, it is imperative for dog owners to know the signs, as well as when to seek veterinary consultation.

Symptoms of Allergic Bronchitis

The most noticeable symptom of allergic bronchitis is a dry, hacking cough. Although there is a great deal of mucous buildup in the bronchial tubes, the cough is usually not productive and does not rid the airways of it. As the cough progresses, the airways begin to constrict, allowing for less air entry into the lungs, producing a most life-threatening situation.

The only other identifiable symptom of allergic bronchitis is wheezing; although, wheezing usually begins before the cough and indicates a blockage of the airways. In addition, episodes of this condition are usually induced after exercise, exertion, or outdoor exposure. So, it is important for dog owners to take notice of when the episodes occur and what the dog was exposed to when they occurred.

Making a Diagnosis

The onset of symptoms and a full account of the situation is usually enough to make a fairly concrete diagnosis of allergic bronchitis. While chest x-rays can be done to assist in making a definitive diagnosis, they are not completely reliable because as the episodes pass, the inflammation of the bronchial tubes disappears, leaving no trace of evidence on the x-ray.

The key element of completely eliminating allergic bronchitis would be identification of the specific allergen. However, there are millions of different allergens and triggers, and identifying them would be difficult and costly. For that reason, dog owners need to be cognizant of their dog’s activities so that a veterinarian can make an informed diagnosis and provide proper treatment.

Treatment of the Condition

There are several different treatment options available for dogs suffering from allergic bronchitis; however, bronchodilators and antihistamines are the two most common treatment methods. Bronchodilators work by targeting the bronchial tubes and forcing them to open, reducing constriction and allowing air entry into the lungs.

Histamines are naturally released by the body in response to allergens and are responsible for the more common signs of allergic reaction, such as swelling, redness, itching, and sneezing. Antihistamines work against histamines and help to reduce the swelling of the bronchial tubes.

If the episodes become extremely severe in nature and life-threatening at every turn, a dog owner may be directed to inject a dosage of epinephrine to immediately reverse the effects of the allergic attack. This is a life-saving measure and a last-resort option.