Breathing Problems in Dogs

Breathing problems in dogs indicate a problem in their respiratory tract. Such problems shouldn’t be confused with panting, which is very common in dogs. However, if you notice that your pet pants excessively or has other breathing problems, you shouldn’t neglect the matter but seek medical help at the earliest. Breathing problems are very common in older dogs of all breeds although Pugs, Boxers, Boston terriers, Bulldogs and Shih-Tzu are more predisposed to such problems.

Symptoms of Breathing Problems in Dogs:

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Labored breathing
  • Excessive panting
  • Nasal discharge
  • Shallow breathing
  • Labored breathing
  • Stridor or Croupy breathing
  • Blue gums
  • Choking
  • Rattling sound while breathing

Causes of Canine Breathing Problems

Sneezing is usually caused by some problem in the nasal passage and needn’t be worrisome unless there is excessive sneezing that causes nasal bleeding. Sneezing is a reflexive action to get rid of the cause of irritation in the nasal passage. However, it could indicate a more serious problem such as a nasal tumor. Coughing is caused by an allergy, an infection or a foreign body lodged in the air passages. More serious causes for coughing are fluid in the chest cavity, worms, heart diseases, tumors, chest diseases or injuries. If your pet is coughing or sneezing for more than a day, it’s best to conduct a vet check at the earliest.

Causes of Labored Breathing

If your pet wheezes, then you should take him to the veterinarian at the earliest as this is associated with lung disease or bronchitis and should be treated correctly. Labored breathing is usually associated with a torn diaphragm, lung disease and tumors and, therefore, is a serious health condition that should be diagnosed and treated at the earliest. Excessive panting could be due to shock, poisoning or pain and if your pet pants excessively without exercise, he should be checked out by the vet at the earliest.

Other Less Common Breathing Problems

If a dog has suffered an injury to the chest area, his breathing will be shallow. Fluid, blood or pus in the chest cavity can also result in shallow breathing. Croupy breathing is due to a narrowing of the voice box and can be observed as a raspy, high-pitched sound when the dog is exercised. Your pet may choke because he has swallowed a foreign object, or has developed an allergic reaction to an insect bite or suffered an injury to the throat. This is a life-threatening condition that needs immediate attention. Blue gums indicate a lack of oxygen and need prompt medical care.

Treatment and Management of Canine Breathing Problems

Breathing problems in dogs are cured by treating the underlying cause. It’s therefore essential that you have your pet checked by a vet at the earliest to assist in correct diagnosis of the problem. The veterinarian will conduct a physical exam, take the medical history, measure the blood pressure and have some tests done such as chest X-rays, an electrocardiogram, blood tests and an ECG to diagnose the cause of the problem. Treatment will be aimed at controlling the condition that is causing the breathing problems.

A nutritional diet, proper exercise and regular check-ups by the vet can nip any developing breathing issues, in the bud. Most breathing problems are easily treated by a change in the diet, exercise and medication. However, more serious problems might need surgery.