Asthma in Dogs
Asthma is a chronic respiratory problem caused mainly by airborne irritants such as cigarette smoke. It usually causes coughing and wheezing in the affected dog. Read on and learn more about the symptoms, causes, and treatment of canine asthma.
Canine asthma is not a disease in itself and is not infectious. Although some cases of asthma in dogs are preceded by infectious disease such as
kennel cough, in most cases, asthma is an allergic reaction in the dog's airways triggered by some airborne pollutants and irritants, such as exhaust gas, cigarette smoke, house dust, pollens, and so on. The allergic reaction can be in the form of inflammation, constriction of the airways, and excessive mucus production.
Asthma in dogs is less frequent than in cats; however, asthma does affect dogs, especially middle-aged and older dogs, and those with a compromised immune system.
Symptoms of Asthma in Dogs
The two hallmark symptoms of asthma in dogs are coughing
The cough may or may not be productive and is often triggered and worsened by exercise and excitement. A coughing episode may also end up with
Wheezing is the result of a narrowing of the airways so that oxygen has to squeeze its way through. A narrowing of the airways has the potential to cause respiratory difficulties. If your dog is wheezing, therefore, pay careful attention to his breathing. Signs of breathing difficulties include:
- Gasping for air with an open mouth
- Gums and tongue turning a bluish color
- The dog will squat with hunched shoulders, and have his neck low to the ground and extended; or he may have his neck extended upwards
If your dog shows signs of difficulty breathing, get him to the vet immediately.
A dog with asthma may also become lethargic
and may suffer from a
loss of appetite
Treatment of Asthma in Dogs
Common conventional treatment for asthma in dogs is the use of two classes of medications: Bronchodilators (theophylline, aminophylline, pentoxifylline, and terbutaline) and corticosteroids (prednisolone, prednisone, and methylprednisolone).
Corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory drugs that decrease the inflammation and swelling of the of the airway walls. However, these medications can cause various side effects, such as increased appetite, increased urination, increased thirst, and anxiety (pacing, restlessness).
Bronchodilators are supposed to help open up the airways by relaxing the muscles around the airway walls. However, they can also cause numerous side effects in dogs, including vomiting, nausea, restlessness and lethargy.
Overall, the effectiveness of these two drugs is sadly minimal to nonexistent in most dog patients.
At home, use a cold-mist humidifier if the air is too dry because asthma dogs are more comfortable in an environment with adequate moisture.
In addition, you may want to try doing the following to prevent or lessen asthma attacks in your dog:
- Elimate Atmospheric Irritants
While it is impossible to eliminate all airborne irritants, as much as possible measures should be taken to remove irritants that may cause canine asthma, such as
pesticides, air fresheners, perfumes, house dust, molds, and cigarette smoke. If necessary, use an air purifier or air filter to remove dust and dirt particles in
- Weight Control
Obesity is a common cause of asthma in dogs. Therefore, if your dog is overweight, you
should consult with your vet to design a weight loss program for your dog. A weight-loss diet may be necessary. Regular exercise such as leash walking is good
but do not overdo it. Also, to avoid pressure on the larynx, use a chest harness instead of a collar on your dog.
- Boost the Immune System
As asthma is more likely to affect dogs with a weakened immune system, try to strengthen your dog's immune system so that he is less prone to infections or other respiratory problems that may result in asthma. Consider using
Immune SURE to promote a healthy immune system and proper liver functioning in your dog. This is an all-natural product that contains a combination of herbs (e.g. licorice, echinacea, elderflower) which are all effective in helping to enhance the immune system, detoxify the body system, and support liver health.