Dog respiratory system

It can be a bit alarming when your pet’s breathing is off. In our doggy patients, abnormal breathing can be caused by a wide variety of possibilities. Some are pet emergencies and others are much less worrisome. At Long Animal Hospital and Emergency Center, we get lots of questions about dog asthma and whether it could be the reason for a pet’s breathing changes. Read on to learn the answer: 

Signs of Respiratory Problems in Pets

Before discussing breathing problems in pets, it is important to note that sometimes respiratory issues can show themselves differently. Being able to recognize that your dog is having breathing trouble is important because even mild breathing issues can turn serious quickly.

Pets who are having breathing difficulties may:

  • Cough
  • Gag
  • Breathe quickly even at rest
  • Have decreased exercise tolerance 
  • Faint or collapse
  • Have a gray or blue tongue/gums
  • Have increased respiratory effort
  • Stand with an outstretched neck
  • Make wheezing or snorting noises while breathing

Concern for breathing difficulties should always be taken seriously and one of our veterinarians should assess the situation right away. Don’t delay in contacting us for help. 

Dog Asthma and Other Potential Culprits

It is nearly impossible to know what might be causing a pet’s breathing troubles just by the symptoms. Determining that dog asthma is the problem is not something that you can know just by looking. 

There are many common causes of dog respiratory problems. These can include:

  • Allergic problems
  • Bronchitis
  • Trauma
  • Parasites (heartworms, lungworms)
  • Infections (fungal, canine influenza, kennel cough)
  • Cancer
  • Pneumonia
  • Cardiac problems
  • Laryngeal paralysis

True asthma is actually not very common in dogs. In asthma, acute episodes of inflammation and resulting narrowing of the lower airways makes it hard to breathe. While cats and horses have asthmatic episodes commonly, dogs more often suffer from more common bronchitis. 

Getting to the Bottom of the the Breathing 

Whenever a dog with respiratory symptoms presents to us, we are on the case right away. Diagnostic testing is our friend. Things like radiographs (x-rays), blood work, ultrasound, and other diagnostics can help us to determine what the underlying issue might be.

Once a diagnosis is made, a personalized treatment plan for your pet based on their condition, diagnosis, and expected progression of the disease. 

Some pets with breathing difficulties may need to stay in the hospital for supportive care and close monitoring while treatment is started. 

While actual dog asthma may not be very common, lots of other causes for breathing trouble are. Seek veterinary care right away anytime your pet has changes in their breathing. Quick diagnosis and treatment often lead to better treatment success. We are here to help no matter when your pet needs help.