Is your dog having trouble breathing? Then your dog must be having an asthma attack. However, is there such a thing as canine asthma? Can dogs have asthma?
Asthma is a lung disease that is common among humans and even cats. This makes pet parents wonder if their dogs can have it too. Good thing, we are here to clear things up.
Besides answering your question on whether asthma in dogs exists, you can also expect to find all the need-to-know facts about canine asthma, including its causes, symptoms, treatment options, and more.
What Is Asthma?
Asthma is a chronic lung disease common among children and even adults. Some are born with it while others develop it after being exposed to various triggers.
Asthma in humans often causes tightness in the chest, wheezing, breathlessness, and coughing in the wee hours of the morning or at night.
Can Dogs Have Asthma?
Yes, dogs can have asthma although it’s less common compared to cats. And you know what? Dog asthma is a lot similar to human asthma.
Asthma in dogs is an allergic disease that is often a result of inhaling irritants or allergens. And like humans, the allergic reaction leads to the inflammation of the bronchi or the small airways, causing them to constrict and spasm. Failure to treat the asthma symptoms can lead to serious trouble (think permanent lung damage).
Small dogs like pugs and bulldogs have higher chances of getting it. Besides that, this condition is usually observed among middle-aged dogs, but young dogs can suffer from it too.
Common Triggers Of Asthma Attacks In Dogs
A dog’s asthma attacks can be triggered by various environmental elements. The most common triggers of asthma in dogs include:
- Air fresheners and perfumes
- Air pollution
- Cat dander and litter dust
- Household cleaners
- Pesticides and fertilizers
- Smoke from fireplaces
- Cigar, vape, and cigarette smoke
Symptoms Of Asthma In Dogs
Want to know how to tell if your dog is having an asthma attack? Well, dogs with asthma show similar symptoms as humans do. And like humans, symptoms of asthma in dogs can range from mild to severe. Here are the most common signs or symptoms of asthma in dogs:
A dog’s asthma attacks are often accompanied by respiratory problems. Since it’s a lung disease that causes the constriction of the dog’s airways, your dog will most likely experience the following:
- Persistent coughing
- Difficulty breathing
- Excessive panting (often accompanied by heavy chest movement and wide-mouth breathing)
- Mucus or phlegm buildup
In some cases, a dog might have a tummy ache or may feel full even if your dog hasn’t eaten enough food. Why?
When asthma attacks, the lungs get inflamed. When this happens, the inflamed lungs can put pressure on your dog’s stomach, which, in turn, will give your dog the feeling of fullness.
A dog with asthma may also feel weak and will be unable to handle long walks. This is brought about by the reduced oxygen levels.
If your dog shows signs of blue or pale gums, consider this a red flag. This is a sign of a severe asthma attack. If this happens, contact your vet immediately or visit a veterinary hospital right away. Failure to do so may result in serious complications and even death.
Also read: Understanding Dog Dry Heaving
How Is Asthma Diagnosed In Dogs?
Diagnosing asthma in dogs can be tricky since your vet will have to rely on your dog’s medical history and reported symptoms.
To come up with a more accurate diagnosis, your vet will check your pet’s health condition and rule out other conditions that show asthma-like symptoms. This includes bacterial infections, kennel cough, and heart disease. To do this, your dog will have to undergo a thorough physical examination.
A thorough physical examination will include chest x-rays, blood testing, and urinalysis. Besides ruling out bacterial infections and heart disease, your vet might also recommend heartworm testing since heartworm disease shows similar symptoms as asthma.
What To Do When Your Dog Shows Signs Of Asthma
Let’s say your dog is having difficulty breathing and is showing all the common signs of asthma in dogs. What should you do now?
Although a dog’s asthma attacks are often mild and non-life-threatening, this doesn’t mean that you should just brush this off aside. Remember that a dog’s asthma symptoms can easily go from mild to life-threatening in a short period. This is why asthma symptoms in dogs shouldn’t be taken lightly.
If your dog is showing all the signs, your best course of action is to contact your vet immediately.
How To Treat Asthma In Dogs
Unfortunately, dogs diagnosed with asthma can’t be cured. However, their symptoms can be controlled. To help improve your pet’s condition, your vet might offer the following:
Anti-Inflammatory Steroid Medications
This helps reduce the inflammation of airway muscles and decreases the risk of long-term lung damage. Anti-inflammatory steroids can either be given as a short-term solution or a long-term treatment depending on your pet’s condition.
Asthma inhalers like albuterol sulfate (commonly sold as Ventolin), may be given to relax airway muscles and improve breathing.
NOTE: Dog medications like albuterol sulfate should only be given with your vet’s consent.
Since dogs’ asthma is an allergic condition, antihistamines can help reduce your dog’s allergic symptoms.
Is There A Way To Prevent Asthma Attacks In Dogs?
Preventing asthma attacks from happening might be impossible, but there’s a way to lessen it and help your dog breathe better. Here’s what you can do:
Try to identify the triggers. This can be a bit tricky but it’s possible. You can do this by taking note of the time or situations when your dog’s breathing changes or when symptoms often appear.
Keep the allergens away. Your dog should avoid triggers like cigarette smoke. After all, lesser exposure equates to fewer attacks. If you have a cat in the house, you better use dust-free cat litter.
Make cleaning a habit. Since dust and pollen are usual triggers, you’d want your home to be free of these. When cleaning, make sure to use unscented cleaning products. You might also want to replace your carpets and curtains with hardwood floors and blinds.
Dogs can have asthma and its symptoms should not be taken lightly. However, you shouldn’t put matters into your own hands by giving them human medications since many human medications are toxic to dogs. If your dog is now showing signs of an asthma attack, make sure to go to the nearest veterinary hospital today.
As always, we are only here to give you all the basic deets. All the information provided here does not constitute medical advice.
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