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Can Dogs Have Asthma?
Posted: 02/02/2023 | BY: Jenna Bruce | Categories: Dog , Health problems , Pet care
Can dogs have asthma? They absolutely can. While the condition is less prevalent in dogs than in cats, dogs can suffer from very much the same asthma symptoms that people do. Asthma is generally diagnosed in middle-aged dogs, though young dogs can also suffer from the condition. Also, small dog breeds are more prone to developing asthma than large breeds.
What is Dog Asthma Exactly?
Like human asthma, dog asthma is an allergic disease. Attacks occur when a dog comes into contact with an allergen that triggers an immune response. His or her airways become inflamed, causing the airways to constrict and spasm, making it hard to breathe.
What Triggers a Dog’s Asthma Attack?
Asthma attacks are brought on when a dog comes into contact with an allergen. Some of the most common allergens for dog asthma include:
- Mold spores
- Dust and mold mites
- Cat litter dust
- Cat dander
- Household cleaners
- Air pollution
- Air fresheners
- Airborne pesticides or fertilizers
- Smoke from cigarettes, pipes, e-cigarettes
Symptoms of Asthma in Dogs
Dogs that are experiencing an asthma attack may cough, wheeze and pant with their mouth wide open. They may also develop a buildup of excessive mucus and phlegm which, if it becomes severe, can cause their gums to turn blue due to the lack of oxygen getting into their lungs.
We should mention that when a dog is having an asthma attack, they may become panicked, as you can imagine. It is very hard to calm dogs down when they are in this state. Never impede a dog’s ability to breathe during an attack by closing their mouth. You will not only make their condition more dangerous, you may also get bit.
Diagnosing Asthma in Dogs
It can be very tricky to accurately diagnose asthma in dogs when they are not having an attack. Should you notice any of the above listed symptoms, get your dog to your vet or an emergency clinic right away.
A vet will usually make a diagnosis of asthma based on a combination of the dog’s medical history, findings from a physical exam, and potentially X-rays. Your vet may also decide to perform a heartworm test as heartworm disease has almost identical symptoms as asthma in dogs.
If there is any reason why you cannot get your dog to the vet immediately when you see any of the above symptoms, then it’s advised you take a video of your dog’s attack so you can show this to your vet at a later date.
Treating Dog Asthma
Treatment for asthma in dogs will depend on the severity of the disease as well as if your dog is having an attack at that moment, or if you are trying to prevent future attacks.
Treatment for Severe Asthma Attacks in Dogs
An acute, or sudden, asthma attack is a medical emergency and will require you to get your dog to your vet or an emergency clinic immediately! In these cases, many vets will hospitalize the dog and place them in an oxygen cage to help them breathe easier. They may also likely place an IV catheter in your dog to deliver medicine and fluids. IV medications typically include bronchodilators to relax bronchial muscles and open airways, an antihistamine to reduce the severe allergic reaction, and a steroid to reduce inflammation in the airways.
Treating Mild Attacks
With milder attacks, the same types of medications are given, though hospitalization and IV therapy is not needed. You would simply give your dog medications at home either orally or through a nebulizer. A nebulizer is a medical device that turns liquid medication into a mist that your dog can then inhale. It works well and quickly as the medicine is delivered right to your dog’s airways.
As an added bonus, nebulizers can also help you reduce the unwanted side effects that come with many oral medications. Some side effects of common asthma medications include weight gain, increased appetite, excessive drinking and urination, increased susceptibility to infections, and muscle loss.
It may take a while for your dog to become comfortable with using a nebulizer, but it is the ideal way to administer his medications, so stay diligent and patient.
Ways to Prevent Asthma Attacks in Dogs
While medications can reduce the severity of the attacks, the best way to prevent attacks from occurring is to reduce possible allergens in the environment.
- Use a room air purifier to help remove allergens from the air that might trigger an attack.
- Bathe your pup regularly to remove any allergens and be sure to use an unscented, hypoallergenic shampoo made specifically for dogs.
- If you also have cats, be sure to use dust-free cat litter. Also, place your litter boxes in an area of the house where your dog cannot get to them.
- Vacuum often to remove dust mites from carpeting and furniture.
- Wash your dog’s bedding weekly with a fragrance-free laundry detergent.
- Do not smoke or vape inside your home.
- Avoid lighting scented candles or using scented air fresheners in your home or car.
- Avoid burning wood in fireplaces or stoves if at all possible.
You may also want to consider getting your dog tested to see exactly what they are allergic to. This will greatly help you to remove those allergens from your home. Talk to your vet about what is involved.
Does Pet Insurance Cover Asthma?
Asthma is often covered by pet insurance policies so long as the dog was enrolled before official diagnosis. Should your dog need ongoing treatments and medications for the disease, your policy would reimburse you for a portion of the bill.
We never know when accidents and illness may strike, which is why it’s a good idea to get your pup enrolled into an insurance plan as early as possible. This way you will always be covered, no matter what. Take 2 minutes to get a free personalized quote today.
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- Wooten, S., DVM., “Can Dogs Have Asthma?” Retrieved from: https://www.petmd.com/dog/general-health/can-dogs-have-asthma
- “Does Your Dog Have Asthma?” Retrieved from: https://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/respiratory/does-your-dog-have-asthma
- “Signs of Asthma in Dogs and What to Do” Retrieved from: https://www.winston-salem.carolinavet.com/site/pet-health-advice-blog/2021/04/30/asthma-in-dogs