Respiratory Congestion in Dogs

Respiratory congestion in dogs can be the result of a respiratory flu or even seasonal allergies. However, sometimes respiratory congestion is the result of a serious condition, like congestive heart failure. Infection by bacteria or viruses can cause congestion leading to pneumonia, which can also be life threatening. Here's what you should know about respiratory congestion in dogs.

Causes of Respiratory Congestion in Dogs

Lung congestion in dogs is often the result of a minor respiratory flu or seasonal allergies. Dogs can also become congested if they inhale something that irritates the lungs, like smoke or liquid. Lung infections can also cause respiratory congestion and difficulty breathing. Sometimes, respiratory congestion is a symptom of a more serious condition, like congestive heart failure, which is one of the most common causes of canine lung congestion.

Other causes of respiratory congestion in dogs include injury to the lungs, heartworms, exposure to toxins, cardiovascular infections and allergic bronchitis.

Symptoms of Canine Respiratory Infection

Dogs suffering respiratory congestion will have trouble breathing, especially when they try to inhale. Breathing may be labored, rapid and shallow. If your dog is suffering from respiratory congestion, he'll have trouble getting all the oxygen he needs, and his gums, lips and tongue may take on a bluish gray hue. This is an indication that he doesn't have enough oxygen in his blood.

If your dog's respiratory congestion is the result of an infection, he may run a fever (a dog's normal body temperature should be around 101 to 102 degrees F). However, if his congestion is the result of allergies, irritants or underlying problems like congestive heart failure, his temperature may remain normal.

Dogs suffering respiratory congestion may experience a deep, wracking cough that gets worse at night. A wet sounding cough may indicate pneumonia, a condition in which fluid builds up in the tissues of the lung. Your dog may seem weaker than usual and may be unable to participate in normal physical activities; he may seem lethargic and lose his appetite. He may even have fainting spells.

Treating Canine Lung Congestion

Treatment for pulmonary congestion in dogs varies depending on the cause of the congestion. If your dog's respiratory congestion is the result of an infection, your vet will administer medication to treat the disease, and may administer diuretics to help remove fluid from the lungs. If your dog's lungs have become so fluid filled that he's entered the life threatening state known as respiratory distress, your vet may need to remove some of the fluid via syringe.

Congestive heart failure is the most common cause of canine lung congestion. Your vet will administer diuretics to help remove fluid from the lungs, and he'll recommend your dog be placed on a heart healthy diet. Dogs suffering congestive heart failure shouldn't be allowed to exercise too much, and they should be carefully monitored for signs that their condition is worsening. Congestive heart failure is a life threatening condition, and in many cases, euthanasia is the only option.