Pneumonia can cause your dog great distress, and watching your dog struggle to breathe as their condition worsens can also be frightening for you.
Many types of pneumonia can develop in dogs, and various risk factors can increase their chances of getting it. The good news is that your veterinarian can successfully treat your dog for pneumonia in most cases. A positive outcome is highly likely if you take action to get your dog help quickly.
What is Pneumonia in Dogs?
Just like humans, dogs can suffer from pneumonia. This debilitating respiratory condition causes inflammation and fluid buildup in the lungs, making it exceedingly difficult for a dog to breathe. As a result of their breathing problems, dogs with pneumonia will often experience oxygen deficiencies, which is a complication that may require emergency medical intervention.
Fortunately, dogs with pneumonia can and usually will recover. But you should know that if you ignore the symptoms of pneumonia in your dog, you could jeopardize their life.
Types of Dog Pneumonia
There are several types of pneumonia that dogs can develop (with three types being primary), all of which are serious, but all of which are amenable to treatment.
Viral pneumonia in dogs
Infectious pneumonia caused by viruses or bacteria (or both) is the most common type of dog pneumonia. Viral agents can infect a dog’s lungs if the animal shares the same air space with another infected dog (viral pneumonia is highly infectious). In general, pneumonia is more likely to develop if the dog’s health has already been compromised in some way. Fluid accumulation in the air sacs of one or both lungs will accompany viral pneumonia. This effect interferes with breathing and the efficient exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the bloodstream.
Viral pneumonia is detectable by the immense breathing difficulties and fatigue it will cause, which will only worsen if medical attention is not provided rapidly after the onset of the initial symptoms. Treatment includes medications that can help clear out congested air passageways and anti-inflammatory drugs that can reduce pain and high fever.
While any dog could get viral pneumonia, the risk is especially high for those exposed to other dogs for an extended period. Dogs staying in shelters or being kept in long-term boarding facilities face an elevated risk, as do dogs that frequent dog parks or spend their days in doggie daycare.
Bacterial pneumonia in dogs
Like viral pneumonia, bacterial pneumonia is an infectious disorder that can be passed from one dog to another. Many different kinds of bacteria can infect a dog’s lungs, leading to an unhealthy buildup of fluid that makes breathing more and more difficult as the condition progresses.
The type of bacteria most likely to cause pneumonia in dogs is Bordetella bronchiseptica. This bacteria can be easily transmitted between puppies, older dogs and dogs with compromised immune systems. The risks for bacterial pneumonia are elevated when these animals are around many other dogs and if other viral or bacterial infections have already developed (bacterial pneumonia can be a primary or secondary condition).
Bacterial pneumonia is identifiable by a dog’s breathing problems and a general lack of wellness. Antibiotics can help a dog overcome bacterial infections, and they are beneficial if the type of bacteria involved has been identified and the antibiotic prescribed has a proven capacity to combat it.