Canine asthma is not a disease in itself and is not infectious.
Most dogs have asthma due to 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.
Some cases of asthma in dogs are preceded by infectious disease such as kennel cough.
A dog may have allergic reactions such as inflammation, having lots of mucus, and having difficulty breathing caused by narrowing of the airways.
Asthma in dogs is less frequent than in cats. But asthma does affect dogs, especially middle-aged and older dogs, and those with a compromised immune system.
Symptoms of Asthma in Dogs
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 gagging and retching.
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, pay careful attention to his breathing to see if he is having problem. 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, with 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.
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 airway walls. But, as you may know, these medications can cause various side effects, such as increased appetite, increased urination, increased thirst, and anxiety (pacing, restlessness). They should be used with care and under strict supervision of a vet. They should also be used as a last resort.
Bronchodilators are supposed to help open up the airways by relaxing the muscles around the airway walls. Unfortunately, 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.
An Herbal Remedy for Dog Asthma
If you prefer to try using a natural remedy for your dog’s asthma, here is one that works well for many dogs. It’s an herbal formula called Throat Gold. It contains herbs that soothe the throat and respiratory tract, and herbs that boost the immune system.
At home, use a cold-mist humidifier if the air is too dry because dogs with asthma 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:
Eliminate 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 the house.
Obesity is a common cause of asthma in dogs, so 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.
You may also consider giving your dog fish oil such as salmon oil. Fish oil is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which has strong anti-inflammatory properties. This can help prevent inflammation that may be caused by asthma.
Stress can weaken a dog’s immune system, which in turn may make the dog more susceptible to issues such as asthma. It makes sense then to reduce stress in the dog’s daily life.
For example, try to maintain a daily routine with as little interruption as possible so that the dog knows what to expect. Provide a warm, quiet and comfortable space in the house for the dog to sleep. And since dogs are very sensitive to people’s feelings, try not to be stressed out yourself!