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Pneumonia in Dogs

Pneumonia is a respiratory condition that can cause serious complications in dogs if left untreated. Today, our vets in Tumwater answer the question, 'Is pneumonia in dogs contagious?' and offer insight into the signs, diagnosis and treatment of this condition.

Pneumonia in Dogs

As in humans, pneumonia affects the respiratory system in dogs, preventing the animal from breathing normally. However, if left untreated, more serious conditions can develop. It's important to note that some forms of pneumonia are more difficult to treat than others.

Viral & Bacterial Infectious Pneumonia in Dogs

Infectious or bacterial pneumonia is the most common type in dogs. It is caused by a viral or bacterial infection in the dog's respiratory tract. Bordetella bronchiseptica is one of the bacteria most frequently linked to infectious pneumonia in dogs and can be transmitted easily between very young, old, or immunocompromised dogs.

Symptoms of Bacterial Pneumonia In Dogs

If your dog is suffering from infectious pneumonia or bacterial pneumonia, they may display one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Coughing
  • High fever
  • Runny nose
  • Wheezing
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty exercising
  • Nasal whistling
  • Irregular breathing
  • Dehydration
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite

If your dog has been diagnosed with bacterial pneumonia, keep him away from other pets and wash bedding, bowls, collars, and leashes often to avoid spreading the disease. In addition, be sure to wash your hands immediately after petting or handling a dog with infectious pneumonia.

Aspiration Pneumonia In Dogs

Aspiration pneumonia can occur in several ways, such as if your dog has a pharyngeal abnormality. Pharyngeal refers to the soft palate, the tonsils, the uvula, the base of the tongue and the back wall of your throat. These disorders can affect breathing or cause your dog to inhale substances such as medication or vomit accidentally. In certain cases, the lower part of a dog's esophagus enlarges due to the frequent regurgitation caused by acid reflux. In some cases, a misplaced feeding tube can also cause this problem.

Symptoms Of Aspiration Pneumonia In Dogs 

As with most respiratory illnesses, the symptoms of aspiration pneumonia overlap with those listed for bacterial pneumonia, as well as other symptoms like:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Bluish skin
  • Change in mood
  • Frequent regurgitation

If your dog is exhibiting any of the symptoms of aspiration pneumonia, contact your vet to book an appointment. Early diagnosis and treatment could help to prevent more severe symptoms from developing, which could be harder to treat.

How serious is pneumonia in dogs?

Pneumonia is a condition that can become life-threatening if a dog does not receive the appropriate care. In some cases, there may even be a chance of recurrence if the initial underlying cause was never diagnosed or treated.

Is pneumonia contagious in dogs?

Your dog is not likely to pass pneumonia to you. However, bacterial and viral pneumonia in dogs is contagious and can be easily transmitted to other pups that come into contact with yours. This is especially true if they are very young, older, or have a compromised immune system.

How Pneumonia In Dogs Is Treated

Suppose your dog is diagnosed with bacterial or aspiration infectious pneumonia. In that case, their veterinarian will probably prescribe medicine to help control symptoms, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for fever and pain and bronchodilators and expectorants for coughing and respiratory problems. In the most severe cases, it may be necessary to hospitalize your dog and administer fluid therapy, supplemental oxygen, or intravenous antibiotics.

How long does pneumonia last in dogs?

The typical recovery time for dogs with pneumonia is three to five weeks with proper care.

How To Help Your Dog's Recovery

Your vet will provide you with specific instructions on taking care of your dog while they recover from pneumonia, but some common care tips include:

  • Limit your dog's physical activities while they recuperate.
  • Ensure your dog gets enough rest by keeping other pets and small children away.
  • Supply plenty of fresh water to help keep your pet hydrated.
  • Give your dog a steam treatment by letting hot water (e.g., a hot shower) run in the sink, shower, or bathtub while you sit in the same room with your dog.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your dog is experiencing breathing difficulties, contact our vets during office hours or the nearest after-hours emergency veterinary clinic.

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