When Dog Breathing Problems Go Unnoticed

Noticing dog breathing problems early is critical to your dog's well-being because they may be a danger to long-term health. A runny nose, a cough and teary eyes may indeed be symptomatic of a simple respiratory infection, which can be quickly and easily treated. However, don't always assume your dog "just has a cold." Breathing problems may be symptomatic of catastrophic illness or health emergencies in your dog, which require immediate or aggressive treatment.

Poor Health and Associated Breathing Problems

Be alert to serious illnesses, health conditions and injuries in your dog, as signaled by these associated breathing problems:

  • Sinusitis - nasal discharge containing pus that smells bad
  • Pneumonia - frequent mucous-producing cough, runny nose, difficulty breathing, wheezing, occurring with dehydration, loss of appetite
  • Chronic bronchitis, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) - dry, harsh cough that may be triggered by exercise or get worse at night
  • Pleurisy- shallow breathing and pain in chest
  • Heart disease, including cardiomyopathy, arrhythmia, heart murmur - labored breating, often occurring with swollen legs and lethargy
  • Heart failure - coughing along with fluid in the lungs
  • Heartworms - cough with blood-tinged phlegm
  • Parasites, including roundworms, whipworms, hookworms and lungworms - dry cough
  • Nasal polyps or tumors - noisy breathing with bloody nasal discharge
  • Lung tumor - soft to harsh cough, increasingly labored breathing
  • Shock, poisoning, heat stroke - rapid breathing
  • Injured ribs - shallow breathing occurring for no apparent reason
  • Nose blockage - sudden sneezing of one nostril
  • Collapsed trachea - honking-goose cough
  • Collapsed lung - gasping for breath
  • Ruptured diaphragm - severely labored breathing

What Could Happen

When breathing problems go unnoticed, chances of your dog's recovery and survival may be significantly diminished, because your dog may not receive necessary treatment in time. You should monitor any breathing problems that arise closely, always taking your dog to the vet as soon as possible if they persist, worsen or co-occur with other symptoms.