Signs & Symptoms of Pneumonia in Dogs

Most pet owners are crazy about their dog. They want to get them the best food, the best toys, and keep them as healthy as possible.

But sometimes, in the face of our best efforts, dogs get sick. There’s a lot of reasons why a dog may get sick, from microbial infections to swallowing a foreign object. Some of these are out of our control, but luckily, most of them can be prevented with a little knowledge and foresight.

Many dog owners have heard of canine kennel cough and rabies in dogs, but far less know about pneumonia in dogs. Yes, everyone’s heard of pneumonia in humans, but the same debilitating condition that strikes humans can affect dogs as well.

This article will discuss:

  • What exactly is dog pneumonia?
  • The parts of the respiratory system.
  • The two types of dog pneumonia
  • The signs of dog pneumonia and how you can spot it.
  • What you should do if your dog has pneumonia.
  • Why hemp products can help prevent pneumonia in dogs.

If you care about the health and safety of your pup, read on.

What Exactly is Dog Pneumonia?

To understand pneumonia in dogs, it’s important to first discuss the two parts of the respiratory system. These two parts will be referred to as the upper and lower tracts.

The upper tract consists of the nose, nasal cavities, throat, and windpipe. The lower tract consists of the tiny airways known as bronchi and bronchioles and the alveoli, which are small air sacs deep in your lung tissue where oxygen exchange occurs.

Technically speaking, pneumonia is when the lower respiratory tract is inflamed. Sometimes, pneumonia is used as a blanket term to refer to dog inflammation in either the upper or lower respiratory tract.

This article will be using pneumonia to mean the more serious of the two conditions, inflammation of the bronchi, bronchioles, and lung tissues (the lower tract).

The Types of Dog Pneumonia

Generally speaking, dog pneumonia falls into two categories. These are microbial pneumonia and aspiration pneumonia.

Microbial pneumonia can be bacterial, fungal, or parasitic in nature. Pneumonia caused by aspiration, on the other hand, happens when a dog inhales foreign particles into the lungs.

Microbial pneumonia is the more common type and is usually bacterial in nature. Some common bacterial strains that cause pneumonia in dogs include:

  • Bordetella bronchiseptica
  • Streptococcus zooepidemicus
  • Pasteurella multocida
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Klebsiella pneumoniae
  • E. coli
  • Mycoplasma

One of the most contagious species of bacteria is bordetella bronchiseptica. This is the same bacteria strain that usually causes ‘kennel cough’, which is another respiratory infection. Sometimes a dog will get kennel cough before it spreads deeper into the lungs causing pneumonia.

If your dog has any signs of respiratory infection or problems, contact your vet immediately to prevent the symptoms from getting worse. Though bordetella bronchiseptica is extremely contagious, most of the other forms of microbial pneumonia aren’t very contagious to other dogs.

So if you know of a dog who has had a respiratory issue that may be kennel cough, you should avoid contact with that dog until they fully recover.

Dogs can also catch pneumonia as a secondary infection. This means that the primary infection may be a viral infection such as the flu. The secondary infection is often caused because of a weakened immune system.

Pollutants can also weaken a dog’s immune system and set them up for pneumonia. These pollutants can include smog, smoke, mold particles, or other irritants. If your dog is developing signs of pneumonia, make sure you check your environment to see if there may be any irritants or stressors in the air.

Though far less common, pneumonia caused by aspiration does happen to dogs. Aspiration pneumonia occurs when a dog’s lungs become inflamed to the inhalation of a foreign object or foreign matter.

It can also occur from extreme episodes of vomiting or from regurgitating stomach acids, resulting in the lungs being damaged and inflamed.

What are the Signs of Dog Pneumonia

The signs and symptoms of dog pneumonia will vary depending on the severity of the inflammation or infection and your dog’s specific makeup.

It’s extremely important that you take your dog to the vet as soon as you recognize any signs of pneumonia or other respiratory condition. Some of the symptoms may include:

  • High fever: The infection that causes pneumonia will often cause a high fever in dogs. Usually, this is a sign of your dog’s body fighting the infection, but if your dog overheats, it could be dangerous or even fatal.
  • Loud, difficult, or rapid breathing: This can be because breathing is difficult due to inflammation and swelling, or because there is a foreign object stuck in the airways. Either way, breathing difficulties in dogs are never a good sign, so watch your dog closely if you find any suspicious breathing activity.
  • Lethargy or easily tired: If your pup seems extra tired and you don’t know why it could be because he’s fighting an infection such as pneumonia. Lethargy in dogs is often one of the early signs of pneumonia, so if you notice your dog being extra sluggish, keep an eye out for some of the other signs.
  • A consistent cough: Often times, pneumonia will be accompanied by a cough. This is because your body is trying to get rid of the infection, but constantly coughing in canines can also irritate the already inflamed airways. If your dog is coughing a lot, it’s a sign that something is wrong.
  • Nasal discharges: Nasal discharges can happen from bacterial or aspiration pneumonia. It can be a reaction to get rid of an infection, or as a way to try to jettison whatever foreign object was inhaled. If the nasal discharges are thick and discolored, that may be a sign of infection.
  • Trouble eating: If your dog has a sudden loss of appetite, one of the causes could be pneumonia or an infection likely to lead to pneumonia.
  • Blueing of lips or of the mucous membranes: Because pneumonia can make your body process oxygen less efficiently, you may notice a blueing of your dog’s lips or of their mucous membrane. This isn’t a good sign, so if you notice this, take your dog to your vets immediately.
  • Altered mood: Though altered mood can be caused by a number of factors, when dogs aren’t feeling well they often act out. If your dog is acting strange don’t immediately jump to pneumonia, but do keep your eye open for some of these other symptoms.
  • Regurgitation: Regurgitation can often occur with aspiration pneumonia. In fact, regurgitation can be the cause of aspiration pneumonia. If your dog is regurgitating often, check to see if they have difficulty breathing, as this can be a sign something is caught in their air passages.

Of course, these are just some of the many dog pneumonia symptoms. It’s important to take your dog in for regular checkups and provide them with a healthy enriched environment.

One way to do this is by giving them Canna-Pet hemp products. The phytonutrient rich hemp gives them the nutrition they need to be powered throughout their day. Plus, hemp is a powerful antimicrobial, meaning hemp products may be able to fight and prevent pneumonia in your dog.

What Should I do if My Dog Has Pneumonia

The first thing to do if you expect your dog may have pneumonia is to call your vet. They will likely tell you to take him in since pneumonia cannot really be diagnosed on the phone.

After a physical examination, your vet may come to the conclusion that your dog has bacterial pneumonia. This conclusion is usually reached based on increased body temperature and abnormal breathing sounds when listened to with a stethoscope.

Likely, your vet will want to run a few tests to make sure the diagnosis is correct and the symptoms aren’t caused by other diseases or conditions. These tests may include:

  • CBC & biochemistry profile: These are tests that will determine the general health of your dog. Depending on the results, more specific fecal or blood tests may be required.
  • Chest x-ray: Chest x-rays may be able to rule out other conditions such as lung disease or other obstruction in the lung. Often bacterial pneumonia can be spotted on x-rays, and if your dog has aspiration pneumonia, an x-ray will almost certainly be necessary.
  • Bronchoscopy: Your vet may recommend a bronchoscopy, which is where your vet will examine your dog’s internal airways with a specialized camera. Your dog will be anesthetized for its comfort. During a bronchoscopy, a cytology screening will usually be performed, meaning cells will be taken for testing to determine the source and severity of the infection.

With the proper diagnosis in hand, it’s up to you and your vet to make the best decision for your pup.

What else can you do to help your dog with pneumonia?

  • Keep him warm and dry: Because pneumonia is usually caused by bacteria which thrives in damp conditions, keeping your dog in a warm dry environment may help fight the infection. Of course, if your dog has an elevated fever, you’ll want to be careful with overheating or dehydrating him.
  • Avoid blueing of the lips: As mentioned before, you may notice your dogs gums or lips blueing. This isn’t a good sign and if you see it you should take your dog to the vet immediately. Blue lips are a sign of lack of oxygen, so the vet may administer oxygen to your dog in this situation.
  • Take your dog in for frequent examinations: If your dog is getting over a case of pneumonia, keep a close eye on him and take him to your vet for frequent checkups. Chances of getting another infection are highest during the recovery period when your dog’s immune system is still weakened.

How to Treat Dog Pneumonia

Most likely, your dog’s vet will recommend antibiotics, depending on your dog’s medical history and the type and severity of the infection. This is one reason why a cytology screening may be used. If specific bacteria strains are identified as the culprit, the vet can prescribe specific antibiotics to combat those strains.

There are also some other treatments you may want to try alongside antibiotics. Bronchodilators can be used to open up the airway, ease breathing, lessen symptoms, and speed recovery. Other breathing treatments can be used as well.

An extremely safe and powerful antimicrobial is Canna-Pet hemp products. Hemp is naturally antimicrobial and has tons of immune boosting properties to keep your dog safe and free of pneumonia or other infections.

Lastly, be sure to keep an eye on your dog for any underlying conditions that caused pneumonia. Sometimes pneumonia just happens, but often it’s caused by a more chronic condition, such as an immune deficiency.

In Summary

Your pet means everything to you. It’s no surprise that you will do whatever it takes to keep your pup safe and healthy. For most pups, a case of pneumonia just means a few weeks of feeling sick and some extra care from their loving parent. But for puppies, older dogs, or weak dogs, pneumonia can be extremely challenging to overcome or even fatal. If you are a pet parent, make sure you are going to your regular check-ups to ensure your dog is in the best shape possible. If you notice alarming symptoms like breathing difficulties or lethargy, it is always advised to talk to your vet.


  1. “Aspiration Pneumonia in Dogs.” Pet Health Network, Accessed 8 Jan 2019.
  2. “Can Dogs Get Pneumonia?” WagWalking, 7 Aug. 2017, Accessed 8 Jan 2019.
  3. “Pneumonia (Bacterial) in Dogs.” PetMD, Accessed 8 Jan 2019.
  4. “Pneumonia in Dogs — What You Should Know.”, Accessed 8 Jan 2019.


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