Treat Chronic Bronchitis in Dogs Holistically

Chronic bronchitis in dogs usually affects middle-aged dogs and is characterized by a harsh dry cough that continues for over two months. Read on to learn more about this dog health problem and how natural remedies can help.

Bronchitis in Dogs What is bronchitis?

Simply put, bronchitis is an inflammation of the trachea (airway). It can be acute or chronic.

One rather common form of acute bronchitis is kennel cough (acute tracheobronchitis), which is a group of highly contagious respiratory diseases found in dogs. Specifically susceptible to kennel cough are dogs in boarding kennels or those who have been to places where large number of dogs gather (e.g. dog parks, dog shows, etc.)

Chronic bronchitis is characterized by an acute inflammatory reaction of the interior of the smaller airways. It usually affects middle-aged dogs. Both male and female dogs can be affected.

Chronic bronchitis in dogs should be considered if a dog continues coughing for over two months.

Symptoms of Chronic Bronchitis in Dogs

Dogs with chronic bronchitis have a dry, harsh cough that may or may not be productive. In particular, the dog usually starts coughing at the start of exercise or when excited.

Usually, a coughing episode is followed by gagging and retching. Sometimes, foamy saliva may be brought up (which many dog parents may mistake as vomitus).

A dog with chronic bronchitis normally does not suffer from appetite and/or weight loss.

Causes of Dog Bronchitis

In most cases of bronchitis in dogs, the cause is unknown.

In some cases, chronic bronchitis develops after the dog has had kennel cough.

Some dogs may develop bronchitis if they are allergic to certain environmental allergens, such as house dust, cigarette smoke, etc.

Parasites, such as heartworms and lung worms, can also cause chronic bronchitis in dogs.

For some reason, chronic bronchitis affects small dog breeds more often than bigger dogs.

Treatment for Chronic Bronchitis in Dogs

Conventional treatment includes the use of medicine such as corticosteroids to reduce the inflammation in the trachea.

This course of steroid treatment may last for 10-14 days, and after that, depending on the severity of the disease, a maintenance dose may be needed.

For dogs who also suffer from wheezing and gagging, bronchodilators may be used to relax the airway.

Other medications may include cough suppressants and/or antibiotics (if there is a secondary bacterial infection).

Natural Remedies for Dogs with Bronchitis

Natural Remedies for Bronchitis in Dogs Natural remedies such as herbs and supplements can be used to effectively and holistically treat bronchitis in dogs, without the side effects of drugs such as steroids.

Specifically, herbs and supplements can be used to:

  • Treat the symptoms, such as to alleviate coughing and soothe the throat and airway;
  • Boost the immune system.

Treating the Symptoms

To suppress and alleviate coughing, the following herbs are effective:

  • Marshmallow: Marshmallow roots are very high in mucilage, which is effective in coating and soothing mucous membranes, such as the airway. It is commonly used to alleviate both dry and productive coughs. Another similar herb that can be used is slippery elm.
  • Osha root (Ligusticum porteri): Osha root is a traditional herb used by Native Americans to treat colds, flu, and other respiratory infections (viral, bacterial and fungal).
  • Thyme: Thyme helps relieve the spasms caused by excess coughing; it is also antimicrobial.

Boosting the Immune System

Various herbs can be used to balance and boost the immune system. For example:

  • Astragalus: This herb enhances the immune system and helps strengthen the lungs. It is also found that Astragalus stimulates the regeneration of bronchial cells.
  • Echinacea: Another immune-boosting herb is Echinacea. Use a tincture for chronic coughs in a 3-week on, 1-week off schedule.
  • Olive Leaf (Olea europaea): The leaves of the olive tree have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral properties. Olive leaf is frequently used to support the immune function of both people and animals with colds, flu, and bronchitis because of its effectiveness against disease-causing germs.

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Natural supplements that are beneficial to the lungs can also be used to help dogs with bronchitis. In particular:

  • N-acetylcysteine (NAC): NAC is a derivative of the naturally occurring amino acid, cysteine. It has long been used to break down mucous and is commonly used to treat acute and chronic lung conditions, including bronchitis and asthma.
  • Vitamin C: Vitamin C is antiviral and can help dogs with respiratory problems (Dosage: 125-1000 mg twice daily, depending on the dog's size and with diarrhea being the limiting factor.)
  • Vitamin E: As an immune booster, this vitamin should also be given to dogs with bronchitis (Dosage: 50 IU for small dogs, 200-400 IU for medium dogs, and 800 IU for large dogs, once a day.)
  • Essentail Fatty Acids: EFAs have anti-inflammatory functions and an EFA-rich oil (e.g. cod liver oil, salmon oil) should be included in the dog's diet (Dosage: 1/2 teaspoon for small dogs, 1 teaspoon for medium dogs, and up to 2 teaspoons for large dogs, once a day).

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Caring for Dogs with Bronchitis

If your dog has allergic bronchitis, it is of course prudent to minimize your dog's exposure to allergens, such as dust, car exhaust, and cigarette smoke.

Equally important is to minimize stress, excitement, and fatigue in your dog.

Avoid using a collar since it puts pressure on the larynx. Use a harness instead.

To ensure that your dog is healthy and has a strong immune system, feed your dog a well-balanced, high-quality diet with named animal proteins (e.g. chicken meat, lamb meal, salmon meal, etc.) as its main protein source.

Essential oils that are antibacterial and antiviral (e.g. lavender, eucalyptus, niaouli, chamomile) can be used to help dogs with bronchitis. Use any or a combination of these oils in a vaporizer or diffuser to help your dog relax and breathe easier.