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
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.