Diagnosing Chronic Bronchitis in Dogs

When suffering with chronic bronchitis, dogs display a number of clear symptoms. If the tubes that pass air from the trachea to the lungs get inflamed, the resulting condition is called bronchitis. It affects the respiratory system, and if left untreated, it can go on to have serious consequences.

Symptoms of Bronchitis

  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Persistent cough
  • Sporadic retching and heaving
  • Listlessness and lethargy
  • Fever
  • Traces of bluish coloration to gums and tongue (in severe cases)
  • Fainting after a bout of coughing

Diagnostic Tests

A number of tests will be conducted to ascertain if your dog is suffering from chronic bronchitis. You must carry all relevant information about your dog's medical history. Previous illness, allergies, weight changes, lethargy and other pertinent factors must be reported. Diagnostic tests include:

  • Auscultation: A physical examination of your dog will be conducted. This will involve auscultation, which is the process of listening to your dog's heartbeat and lung rhythms. This is usually done using a stethoscope.
  • Chest X-Rays: Radiography is important to ascertain the extent of damage done to the trachea and the lungs.
  • Airway Examination: This is a physical examination to check for any partial obstruction or blocks in the airflow of your dog's respiratory tract. Bronchoscopy may be carried out, which allows for a visual examination of the airways.
  • Cytology: Cell examination and bacterial cultures are carried out to detect the cause of the infection. A tracheal wash may also be conducted to obtain fluid samples for analysis. Sputum evaluation will also be conducted.
  • Electrocardiogram: In some cases of chronic bronchitis, an ECG may be required. This test is used to reveal any irregularities in your dog's heart rate and rhythm.
  • Arterial blood gas: To detect the pH of the blood, a blood gas analysis is done. This is done by drawing blood from an artery and then measuring the pH and partial pressures of gases in the blood, such as oxygen and carbon dioxide. This test also is significant to determine if your dog is suffering from lung disease.
  • Complete blood count: A complete blood count (CBC) may be recommended to determine overall health and to rule out other causes of the symptoms such as heartworm, pneumonia or other secondary infections.
  • Stool test: An analysis of faecal material can assess the presence of lungworms.


A combination of clinical treatment and home based care is the best way to combat bronchitis in your dog. Apart from the prescribed medicines and therapies recommended, you can help your dog fight the infection.

  • Reduce obesity: Obesity can heighten breathing problems for your dog. Help him reduce his weight.
  • Remove collar stress on the neck: Replace your dog's collar with a harness. This will ease pressure on his airway.
  • Dental treatment: Make sure all his dental treatments and oral infections are addressed. This is particularly important for dogs suffering from chronic bronchitis.
  • Reduce environmental irritants: House dust, tobacco smoke or fumes should be reduced or removed from your dog's environment. This will help to give him quicker relief from irritation and inflammation.
  • Treatment of chronic bronchitis is very dependant on the severity of your dog's particular condition. Remaining alert to the symptoms can help your dog receive an early diagnosis. Bronchitis is rarely fully cured, but with dedicated and meticulous home care and medical treatment, there can be a remarkable improvement in your dog's condition.