Whether in humans or animals, pneumonia is always a scary diagnosis. It is an acute lower respiratory tract disease which can be deadly if left untreated. For most pet owners, this is a topic we may dread talking about.
Of course, we don’t want to think or even imagine our beloved dogs suffering or passing because of this dreadful disease. However, it is also part of our responsibility to educate ourselves about the nature of dog pneumonia. It is because the knowledge we get will often dictate our pet’s prognosis in the event they are diagnosed with this severe disease.
What Is Pneumonia?
Generally, the respiratory system is separated into two different parts. The upper respiratory tract includes the nose, throat, sinuses, and trachea or windpipe. On the other hand, the lower respiratory tract consists of the alveoli and the small airways.
The alveoli being the small air sacks located in the lung tissue where the exchange of oxygen occurs, and the little air sacks being the bronchi and the bronchioles.
Pneumonia is a severe inflammation of the lungs and the lower respiratory tract. Often, it is preceded by an illness or infection such as bronchitis, kennel cough, or parainfluenza.
What Are the Types of Dog Pneumonia?
Dogs are prone to acquiring two types of Pneumonia. Bacterial and Aspiration ( also known as inhalation). With bacterial pneumonia, the infection usually starts in the alveoli, and the body goes through an inflammatory reaction and fluid accumulation in the cells as a way of fighting off the disease.
Aspiration or inhalation pneumonia is often caused by a secondary infection which causes inflammation in lungs because of the accumulation of too much mucus.
Disease-carrying bacteria cause this type of pneumonia. Different types of bacterial organisms may cause the development of pneumonia in dogs. Most common of which are Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, and E.coli.
This type of pneumonia often results from inhaling foreign matter such as food, vomit or gastric acid. It can also happen in the presence of certain neurological disorders which cause laryngeal paralysis or swallowing problems.
Other forms of neurological disorders that can be responsible for causing aspiration pneumonia include issues with nerves and muscles and diseases of the esophagus.
Is There Any Danger for Developing Dog Pneumonia?
Any condition affecting a dog’s respiratory tract can be a predisposing factor to having bacterial pneumonia. Some risk factors which can increase the possibility of acquiring this disease includes difficulty swallowing or regurgitation, tumors of the lungs and respiratory system, and a preexisting viral infection.
Dogs who usually take immuno-suppressive drugs or those who experience immune system diseases also have a great chance of acquiring bacterial pneumonia. Lastly, some severe metabolic disorders, for example, Addison’s disease, Cushing’s, kidney failure, or diabetes mellitus, can also predispose your dogs to bacterial pneumonia.
Many factors predispose dogs to aspiration pneumonia. For example, gastrointestinal, neurologic, esophageal, or upper respiratory disease, etc. Studies show that to some degree, sizeable male breed dogs also appear to be predisposed.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Dog Pneumonia?
If your dog acquires any of the two forms of pneumonia, prompt action can make a big difference in increasing the likelihood of recovery. For this reason, it is essential to know the common signs and symptoms of pneumonia.
Then you can decide to take your dog to the vet for treatment. It is the only right step in case any of these symptoms appear.
- Loose, gurgly cough (this indicates the presence of fluid in the lungs )
- Increase in heart rate
- Rapid breathing
- Difficulty in breathing
- Loss of Appetite
- Presence of thick nasal discharge
- Weight loss
Is Dog Pneumonia Contagious?
Since bacterial Pneumonia is caused primarily by disease-causing microbes, this means that it can be contagious. However, pneumonia caused by poisons or chemical fumes is not infectious, since infectious agents do not create it.
A bacterial infection causes most cases of pneumonia in dogs. The most common of which is the Bordetella bronchiseptica, Streptococcus zooepidemicus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Pasteurella multocida, Klebsiella pneumonia, E. coli, and Mycoplasma species.
Bordetella bronchiseptica is very contagious and can quickly spread to other dogs. It can cause “Kennel cough,” which is a severe respiratory infection in dogs that affects the trachea and bronchi. It can also spread more in-depth into the lungs, especially in very young or old dogs, or those who are immune compromised.
How Can You Prevent Your Dog From Getting Pneumonia?
The best way to prevent your dog from getting pneumonia is to make sure that your pets are up to date with their vaccinations. It is critical, especially the vaccination specific for dog kennel cough.
And since pneumonia is usually a secondary condition, you should address and resolve the predisposing factors such as Laryngeal paralysis, pyloric outflow obstruction, or gastric reflux disorders.
Another thing to keep in mind is to fast dogs at least 12 hours before putting them under general anesthesia to prevent the possibility of vomiting and aspiration of the stomach contents. You should force feed in extreme cases only, and you should always do it with care.
Lastly, just like humans, dogs need a healthy diet, clean drinking water, and enough exercise to stay healthy and happy.
If you notice that your pet is sneezing or coughing, or has a nasal discharge or a runny nose, you should take a close look to the situation. Or if it is undoubtedly lazy and shows a decrease in appetite, then it’s time for a trip to the vet to have him examined for pneumonia.
Pneumonia is a severe and life-threatening condition. It is also contagious and can transfer easily from one sick dog to another. The good news is that with prompt medical intervention, pneumonia is very treatable. As pet owners, our most significant responsibility is to keep our pets safe at all times. We need to save them from situations and conditions that can predispose them to the disease.
As long as we update our pet’s vaccinations regularly, and give them adequate exercise and nourishment, there is no need to worry. In a loving environment, our furry friend is more likely to stay pneumonia-free.
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