Canine Asthma Symptoms

Canine asthma usually affects middle aged dogs. When a dog has an asthma attack, he normally has trouble breathing. During asthma, the air passages of the lungs (the bronchi) fill up with heavy mucus. If your dog is experiencing asthma, he may start to wheeze, cough and have shortness of breath and even spasms. Here's what else to know about this respiratory illness:

When the asthma attack ensues, your dog's airway passages become irritated. After that, they tighten and narrow. This is what causes the breathing problems and all of the symptoms surrounding them.

Initial signs/symptoms of asthma:

  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Trouble breathing
  • Panting
  • Discomfort in chest area

These signs may escalate to more serious complications and symptoms, such as respiratory distress. Notice if your dog is showing signs of distress like open-mouth breathing or gasping for air.

Other signs are indicated by your dog's movements. Sometimes a dog may move body around in odd ways due to the respiratory distress from the asthma attack. In addition, he may start pawing at his face over and over and show signs of panic.

What else to Observe

Look at your dog's gums to see if there are any changes in color. During an asthma attack, the gums and tongue can sometimes become purple or blue.

Further indications of asthma include behavioral issues and changes to a dog's eating habits. For example, a dog may show signs of lethargy or suddenly become sluggish.

Along with that he may experience a loss of appetite. Notice if your dog has less interest in eating his favorite treat, biscuit or chew bone. This may also lead to some weight loss.

Additional Asthma Triggers

If your dog is diagnosed with asthma, there are several things that can worsen his symptoms. Or there are some things that can trigger an asthmatic reaction in dogs. They are as follows:

  • Air pollution
  • Perfumes and fragrances
  • Dust, dust mites
  • Second-hand smoke
  • Air borne allergens
  • Stress factors
  • Preservatives or artificial food colorings

Asthma or Other Diseases?

The signs of asthma sometimes mimic those of other diseases. Be aware that the symptoms of canine asthma are similar to other problems, like kennel cough. See what other signs accompany your dog's cough, such as wheezing or related breathing issues.

Breathing problems in dogs can result from a collapsing trachea, heartworms or lung tumors. A physical exam and x-rays will usually be required to determine if your dog has asthma or something else.

For treatment, a vet will normally recommend antihistamines. Other options depend on the stage or severity of the dog's symptoms. Additional treatments for this condition range from steroids and bronchodilators to epinephrine injections and natural remedies.