Signs of Asthma in Dogs
Just like people, dogs can develop asthma, which can make breathing difficult for them. Asthma, also called allergic bronchitis in dogs, is a condition that is typically a result of an allergic reaction to something in their environment.
A dog’s asthma attacks can be mild, causing wheezing, or severe, causing their upper airway to spasm and constrict, leading to near suffocation. Should this condition become chronic, the tissue in their respiratory passageways may become permanently damaged.
The good news is, there are treatments available to help manage your dog’s condition so they can breathe easy and live a long and active life.
Symptoms of Asthma in Dogs
While both people and dogs can develop asthma, the symptoms are quite different in each. Dog asthma typically affects young and middle-aged dogs, though senior dogs can be affected as well.
The most common sign of asthma in dogs is a persistent, hacking cough that can come on slowly or appear suddenly. Some dogs may have an occasional breathing issue, say after playing and running around, while other pups may develop more chronic, severe symptoms.
In the severest of cases, a dog may only be able to breathe by panting through his mouth and his gums may turn blue from lack of oxygen. Should this occur, the dog would need to be brought to the vet immediately or an emergency clinic to survive.
And that is exactly why it’s important that the initial symptoms of canine asthma be caught early, so the disease can be managed safely.
The following are a dog’s asthma symptoms that pet owners should be aware of:
- Difficulty breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Open-mouth breathing/panting
- Dry, hacking cough
- “Blue” gums or pale mucous membranes
- Extreme fatigue
- Lack of interest in exercise or play
- Lack of appetite
- Weight loss
If your dog is exhibiting any of these symptoms, it’s important take him to the vet to get him checked out right away.
What are Dogs Allergic To?
Just as people can have allergic reactions to numerous things in their environment, dogs can as well. The following allergens may be triggering your dog’s asthma:
- Tobacco, fireplace, or wood stove smoke
- Air fresheners
- Household cleaners
- Pesticides or fertilizer
- Air pollution
- Mold spores
- Particles from cat litter
How to Prevent Asthma in Dogs
Since dog asthma can be hard to reverse once it becomes a chronic condition, it’s best to try and prevent it from developing in the first place. Taking action now will give your dog the best chance of living an asthma-free life.
The following are some things you can do to prevent a severe asthma attack in your dog:
- Don’t smoke near your pets.
- Unless absolutely necessary for heating your home, don’t use your fireplace or wood-burning or pellet stove. For ambiance, try fake glowing logs instead.
- Bathe your dog often and dry well.
- Use natural pesticides in your home and backyard garden.
- Use natural cleaners, such as white vinegar, to clean your home.
- Don’t wear perfume or aftershave.
- Run one or more air purifiers in your home to remove allergens, like mold spores and pollen, from your home’s air.
- Consider removing carpets, which can often trap allergens.
- If you have cats, use a dust-free cat litter. This is not only good for your dog’s lungs but your cat’s lungs and your lungs as well!
Diagnosing Asthma in Dogs
Dog asthma can be tricky to detect. What usually happens is a dog will have an asthma attack at home, because that is where the allergic triggers are. But when they are brought into the vet days later, they are no longer showing symptoms. It’s a bit like when your car is making a certain noise, until you take it into the mechanic, then the noise magically stops!
To detect dog asthma, your vet will perform a physical examination and use a combination of an oral history and the results of tests like X-rays, which can sometimes show lingering inflammation.
Another reason why it can be hard to detect asthma in dogs is because it can present similarly to other diseases. For example, heartworm disease, which has similar symptoms as asthma. For this reason, many vets will perform heartworm testing to garner more insights into your dog’s condition and health.
Treating Asthma in Dogs
While prevention is always best, sometimes it’s not possible to stop a dog from developing asthma. Luckily there are a number of good treatment options available.
Dogs with asthma typically undergo rigorous treatment to minimize long-term irreversible damage to their airways. The most common treatments involve glucocorticoids and bronchodilators, which help reduce the severity of attacks. These medications can be given orally, though they are usually administered through asthma inhalers. This not only immediately gets the medication into the lungs, but also helps your dog avoid unpleasant side affects that come with oral medications.
When secondary bacterial infections occur, your vet will also most likely prescribe a round of antibiotics. They may also recommend the use of special cough suppressants and anti inflammatory steroids.
While asthma in dogs is not common, treatments are becoming increasingly available to help ensure your dog lives a healthy, happy and active life.
Helping Both You and Your Dog Breathe Easy
Caring for a dog with asthma usually means a lot of visits to the vet, as well as getting a lot of prescriptions refilled. These costs can really add up, causing you anxiety.
And this is exactly why we created Pet Insurance Review. We are pet owners ourselves and we wanted to help other pet owners who are struggling with vet bills. You shouldn’t have to worry about your pet and how you’re going to pay for all of their care!
Pet Insurance Review finds only the best pet health insurance plans on the market that can help you keep your best friend healthy. For instance, did you know some plans can actually reimburse you for up to 90% of the vet bill?
Don’t let high vet bills stop you from providing the care your cat deserves. Get a free quote today so both you and your pup can breathe easy!
- Wooten, S. DVM. Can Dogs Have Asthma? Retrieved from: https://www.petmd.com/dog/general-health/can-dogs-have-asthma
- Retrieved from the Carolina Veterinary Specialists https://www.winston-salem.carolinavet.com/site/pet-health-advice-blog/2021/04/30/asthma-in-dogs
- Burke, A. Dog Allergies: Symptoms & Treatment. Retrieved from https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/dog-allergies-symptoms-treatment/
- Heartworm in Dogs, retrieved from the American Heartworm Society: https://www.heartwormsociety.org/heartworms-in-dogs