Dog Pneumonia Explained

Dog pneumonia is a serious disease that typically attacks dogs under 1 year old, but can affect dogs of any age. Once contracted, pneumonia can develop into a deadly condition, so immediate treatment by a veterinarian is important to the survival of your dog. Dog pneumonia is an infection and inflammation of the dog's lungs and the airways, and is typically caused by bacteria that was inhaled into the lungs.

Symptoms of Dog Pneumonia

In order to catch dog pneumonia at its earliest stages, it's important to note differences in your dog's activities and appearance. Typical symptoms of dog pneumonia include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Wheezing or panting
  • Lips bulging outward when the dog breathes
  • Frequent coughing with mucous discharge
  • Lack of energy, generally lethargic
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lack of interest in water, general dehydration
  • Fever
  • Nasal discharge is uncommon, but possible

Diagnosis of Dog Pneumonia

The veterinarian will listen to your dog's lungs and conduct a general physical exam to look for other symptoms you may not have noticed. Pneumonia often accompanied by a crackling noise when the lungs are listened to through a stethoscope. X-rays are taken to look at the lungs and determine the extent of inflammation and infection.

Treatment of Dog Pneumonia

The veterininarian will recommend treatment depending upon the severity of the infection. If caught early enough, the pneumonia can be treated at home with antibiotics. Multiple antibiotics may be used in the 3 week treatment in order to ensure all bacteria are addressed. During that time you must monitor your dog's progress closely. If he seems to be getting worse, it's important to get him back to the vet for additional treatment. Your veterinarian may also recommend various therapies to help him clear his lungs of fluid. This could include humidification or use of bronchodilators, in addition to mild exercise and chest percussion.

In more severe cases of pneumonia, your dog will need to be hospitalized. If your dog is having difficulty breathing, he may be given humidified oxygen to make it easier for him to breathe. Because of dehydration, your dog may require intravenous fluids. Veterinary staff may also be required to perform thorax percussions in order to loosen up the mucous in your dog's lungs.

After he is released to go home, your dog may need to return to the veterinary office for follow up exams and additional x-rays in order to ensure his recovery is progressing.

Whether brought on by inhalation of bacteria or if it's a secondary infection to an initial respiratory virus, dog pneumonia is a disease that can quickly worsen and take a dog's life. It's important to catch the disease in its early stages when treatment can be completed at home with antibiotics and home therapy. Early treatment also means the avoidance of hospitalization and further complications. Once treatment has begun, consistency in the therapy and some additional care can return your dog to his normally healthy condition.