Canine Pneumonia

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Canine Pneumonia


Pneumonia is a general term that many people use to refer to the inflammation of the lungs. It is different from bronchitis, which is inflammation of the bronchi (which are the air passages sending air to and within the lungs).

Bronchitis and pneumonia quite often occur together to create what is called "bronchopneumonia".

Pneumonia in dogs can be life-threatening. Therefore, identifying the symptoms and causes at an early stage is important.

Causes of Canine Pneumonia

Pneumonia generally affects young puppies under one year of age, although older dogs can get pneumonia as well.

Sporting dogs, hounds, working dogs and mixed breed dogs over 25 pounds may be predisposed.

Pneumonia in dogs can be caused by an infection brought on by:

  • Bacteria: Bacterial pneumonia is often secondary to kennel cough (especially in young puppies), or malfunction of the esophagus (Megaesophagus).
  • Virus: Viral pneumonia in dogs is usually caused by canine distemper, or upper respiratory infection (URI).
  • Fugus: Fungal pneumonia is usually caused by fungi such as Coccidioidomycosis immitis, or Cryptococcus neoformans.
  • Parasite: Parasitic pneumonia in dogs is often caused by lungworms directly or from the migration of other worms (e.g. heartworms) through the lung.
In addition, a dog can get pneumonia because of:
  • Allergy: Sometimes, an allergic reaction to an irritant (such as cigarette smoke) causes excessive inflammatory cells to infiltrate the lungs which can result in pneumonia.
  • System Failure: System failure, such as and especially the heart, can also lead to pneumonia in dogs.
  • Aspiration of Liquid: Aspiration of liquid into the lung can also result in pneumonia in dogs. This can quite frequently happen to puppies with cleft palates - the milk flows into the trachea rather than the esophagus.

    Sometimes medications such as liquid dewormers, laxatives, or vitamins are administered incorrectly causing the liquids to pass into the lungs and accumulate there, resulting in pneumonia.

Dog Pneumonia Symptoms

The hallmark symptom shown by dogs suffering from pneumonia is coughing (although of course not all coughing dogs have pneumonia). In addition, watch out for the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sneezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Listlessness
  • Lethargy
  • Appetite loss
  • Fever

Conventional Treatment for Canine Pneumonia

If a dog with pneumonia is in stable condition (eats well and active), he will usually be allowed to stay home with medication treatment such as antibiotics.

Dogs that are in unstable or critical conditions will be hospitalized and receive treatments such as oxygen therapy and IV fluid therapy in addition to antibiotic treatment.

How To Treat Pneumonia in Dogs at Home

Dog Pneumonia Home Treatment Pneumonia is a serious condition. If your dog unfortunately has got pneumonia, he should be under the care of a veterinarian.

However, there are natural home remedies such as herbs, supplements, and essential oils that you can use to help relieve some symptoms such as coughing and breathing difficulty, so that your dog can feel more comfortable and less stressed.

Herbs to Boost the Immune System

As mentioned above, most cases of pneumonia are caused by an infection. If your dog has pneumonia, it is a good idea to boost your dog's immune system so that his body can fight the infection more effectively.

Herbs such as echinacea, astragalus, and garlic can be used to strengthen the dog's immune system.


An Excellent Immune-Boosting Herbal Formula

This formula contains echinacea, licorice, lemon balm, elderflower, and more, which all work together synergistically to support the immune system. Excellent for fighting infections.

Essential Oils to Help Breathing

Also, use essential oils to help your dog relax and breathe easier. Essential oils that have antibacterial and antiviral properties (e.g. lavender, eucalyptus, niaouli) are especially beneficial.

To calm your dog, use also Roman chamomile essential oil. Use any combination of these oils in a vaporizer or diffuser in the room where you dog rests.

Herbs and Supplements to Soothe Coughing

To ease coughing caused by pneumonia, numerous natural remedies (such as herbs, honey, supplements) can be used. Visit our page on Dog Cough Home Remedies for more information.

Percussion Therapy for Dogs with Pneumonia

You may also want to give percussion therapy (coupage) to your dog if he has got pneumonia. The purpose is to loosen up and help move secretions deep in the dog's lungs into the airways so that the secretions can be coughed up easily.

Here's how to do coupage on your dog: With cupped hands, gently but rapidly tap your dog's chest wall repeatedly. Percussion therapy can be given to your dog about four times daily.

Watch this video to see how percussion therapy is done on a dog:

Eldredge, et al. Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook 4th edition (Wiley Publishing, 2007).
C.J. Puotinen, Natural Remedies for Dogs and Cats (Keats Publishing, 1999).
M.L. Wulff-Tilford and G.L. Tilford, Herbs for Pets (Bowtie Press, 1999).
M. Goldstein, The Nature of Animal Healing (Ballantine Books, 2000).

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