It may sound surprising, but dogs can get several of the same ailments as us humans, such as dog seizures, canine allergies, anxiety in dogs, and yes – even the very common infection, pneumonia. If your beloved pet is a little under the weather with a long-lasting dog cough or fatigue, it’s a good option to bring him to your local vet as soon as possible. If your veterinarian does suspect pneumonia, they may listen to their lungs and order chest x-rays or blood samples to determine the origin and create treatment plan.
If the vet does come back to confirm your dog does indeed have pneumonia, there will be lots of questions running through your mind – “Will they be okay? What are the treatments for dogs with pneumonia? How long will the recovery process take?”
This guide below will answer all those questions and more to ensure that you’re informed and prepared should your pup contract this infection.
Dog Pneumonia 101
First, let’s do a quick refresher about pneumonia and your dog. Pneumonia is a lung infection that can cause uncomfortable symptoms such as canine fever, cough, shortness of breath and chest pain. It can cause significant inflammation in the dog’s lungs and can lead to severe breathing difficulties or worse if left untreated. Pneumonia can also be referred to as “kennel cough in dogs”. This is because in many cases, it starts out as a kennel cough or a viral infection that can predispose the lungs to a dog bacterial infection and therefore, become pneumonia.
Most cases of pneumonia in dogs are not cause for concern and can be treated with a short course of antibiotics. But, like with all health problems, it’s important to monitor symptoms. If they increase in severity, you observe signs of distress or notice your pup having difficulty breathing – get him medical care right away. As pneumonia is most common in dogs with compromised immune systems, young puppies or elderly dogs are more susceptible to contracting this infection.
As a pet owner, it can be hard to identify what’s wrong with your dog. That’s why it is necessary to rely on your vet to research, diagnose and treat the problem. Being diligent and doing your best to recognize when there’s a serious problem is important in keeping your pup safe and healthy.
Treatments can range from antibiotics (for dogs with uncomplicated bacterial pneumonia) to additional medication as needed and based on the severity of the illness. Those additional treatments could include oxygen therapy or a nebulizing treatment, antimicrobial medication or IV therapy. Encouraging coughing by massaging your dog’s chest can help to loosen the buildup of mucus and bacteria in his throat. Overnight hospitalization may be required if they’ve reached a level of dehydration or breathing distress. Although, in most cases, after a visit to the vet, your dog can be treated at home with the prescribed antibiotics.
The goal of treatment is to fight the infection and then bring back their good health, energy levels, and overall comfort. Additional methods of treatment to improve your pet’s well-being, reduce pneumonia symptoms, and decrease the spread of the illness, include:
- Make sure they are getting plenty of rest
- Postpone any play-dates
- Ensure they are drinking plenty of fluids.
- Disinfect their food and water bowls, toys, and any bedding or blankets
- Thoroughly clean and remove dust
- Consider an air purifier or humidifier
- Continue to take light walks and exercise
With administration (as prescribed) of the antibiotics, over the next few weeks, you should see symptoms decrease and your dog’s energy increase. The overall recovery should take about three to four weeks. You’ll need to continuously monitor your dog to ensure that they’re eating and drinking enough. Follow orders from your vet and continue the entire course of antibiotics, even if they appear to be doing better. If symptoms don’t improve, be sure to get in touch with your vet to see if any further action or treatment is needed.
In the end, pneumonia is not a fun infection for anyone – human or canine – to have to endure. But, keep in mind that with proper medical attention, treatment and the attention of their diligent and loving owner, most pups will recovery in a few short weeks. Work closely with your vet to determine the best treatment plan based on the age, health, and condition of your dog. Tailoring treatment and care based on your individual dog will help to foster an environment for the best outcomes.
- “Pneumonia (Bacterial) in Dogs.” PetMD, Accessed 4 Jan 2019. www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/respiratory/c_multi_pneumonia_bacterial.
- “Pneumonia in Dogs — What You Should Know.” Care.com, Accessed 4 Jan 2019. www.care.com/c/stories/6479/pneumonia-in-dogs-what-you-should-know/.
- “Heart Murmurs in Dogs | Causes and Prevention.” Petwave, 16 July 2015, Accessed 4 Jan 2019. www.petwave.com/Dogs/Health/Pneumonia/Treatment.aspx.