All the Information You Should Have on Canine Bronchitis

Is your dog experiencing a new or recurring cough? There are various illnesses that can lead to coughing in dogs, including kennel cough, canine influenza virus, and dog bronchitis. Dog bronchitis occurs when the lower airways become inflamed, and it can be either acute (sudden onset and short duration) or chronic (lasting longer). Recognizing the signs of dog bronchitis can help you identify the underlying cause and provide relief to your coughing canine companion.

Signs of Dog Bronchitis

When dogs breathe in, air travels through their mouth or nose into the trachea and then to the bronchi, which are the tubes connecting the trachea to the lungs. Inflammation of these bronchial airways is referred to as dog bronchitis, and in some cases, the inflammation can extend to the lungs. Acute bronchitis often involves inflammation of the trachea as well, hence the term “tracheobronchitis.”

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According to Dr. Jerry Klein, Chief Veterinary Officer for the AKC, the primary symptom of chronic bronchitis in dogs is a persistent cough. On the other hand, acute bronchitis can present with varying signs depending on the underlying cause. For instance, an infection may result in a fever in affected dogs.

The most noticeable indication is typically coughing. Dr. Klein describes the cough as dry and paroxysmal, resembling a goose honk, and often occurring when the dog is excited or after resting. The cough can last for one to three weeks, and severe cases may be hard to distinguish from pneumonia.

Understanding Acute Dog Bronchitis

Dr. Klein explains that acute bronchitis in dogs can be caused by various factors, including infectious agents like viruses or bacteria. Other triggers may include parasites, oral or pharyngeal issues, pulmonary conditions, smoke inhalation, or exposure to caustic chemicals.

Allergies can also lead to acute bronchitis in dogs, with common allergens such as pollen triggering an inflammatory response in the bronchi and resulting in coughing.

Chronic Bronchitis in Dogs

On the other hand, chronic bronchitis is a long-term condition characterized by a persistent cough lasting at least two months. It is not contagious or infectious and is usually diagnosed once other potential underlying causes have been ruled out. While chronic bronchitis is more commonly seen in smaller dog breeds, larger breeds can also develop the condition.

If there are no underlying illnesses causing the cough, chronic bronchitis may be due to ongoing airway inflammation or structural changes in the trachea or larynx. Factors such as obesity can exacerbate the condition, and environmental stresses like dry air in winter can trigger inflammation.

Diagnosis of Dog Bronchitis

Australian Cattle Dog having its eyes checked by the vet.Australian Cattle Dog having its eyes checked by the vet.
©highwaystarz –

If your veterinarian suspects bronchitis in your dog, they will base the diagnosis on the dog’s history, a thorough physical examination, and any clinical signs of illness. For chronic bronchitis, the vet will aim to eliminate other potential causes of the cough.

Diagnostic techniques, such as X-rays, endoscopy, bronchial swabs, biopsies, or bronchial lavage, may be utilized to confirm the cause of the cough or rule out other conditions.

Treatment for Dog Bronchitis

In cases of acute dog bronchitis or acute tracheobronchitis, supportive treatment is typically recommended by veterinarians. This includes rest, proper nutrition, and hydration. Dogs with acute bronchitis should be isolated from other dogs due to the risk of contagion. However, if the dog has a fever or shows signs of not eating or drinking, treatment for the underlying disease is necessary.

Nebulization or steam therapy can help loosen mucus, making it easier for the dog to cough it up. Dr. Klein suggests creating a steam room by running a hot shower in a closed bathroom for five minutes and allowing the dog to breathe in the steam.

Life Expectancy for Dogs With Chronic Bronchitis

There is no cure for chronic bronchitis in dogs, but corticosteroids are commonly prescribed to reduce airway inflammation and alleviate coughing. Treatment with corticosteroids is typically lifelong for dogs with chronic bronchitis.

Belgian Tervuren puppy standing on a path in the park.Belgian Tervuren puppy standing on a path in the park.
©Eliška –

While airway damage in chronic bronchitis is irreversible and progressive, dogs with appropriate management can have a normal life expectancy. Consistent treatment, maintaining a healthy weight, providing a good diet, and avoiding airborne irritants and allergens are essential for dogs with chronic bronchitis. Using a harness instead of a collar for walks can also help alleviate pressure on the trachea.

Prevention of Dog Bronchitis

Any dog can develop acute or chronic bronchitis, but there are preventive measures you can take to reduce the risk. Keeping your dog at a healthy weight, minimizing exposure to irritants in the air, and protecting them from respiratory illnesses through vaccination are vital steps in preventing dog bronchitis.

Dr. Klein recommends discussing appropriate vaccines with your veterinarian to safeguard your dog against diseases like distemper, parainfluenza, canine adenovirus 2, and Bordetella, which are common culprits of infectious tracheobronchitis and other respiratory conditions.

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All the Information You Should Have on Canine Bronchitis