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Asthma in Dogs - Signs, Symptoms & Treatment

Like humans, dogs can suffer from mild or severe asthma attacks. In today's post, our vets in Jesup list signs and symptoms of asthma in dogs, what to do if your dog experiences an asthma attack, and how the condition is treated. 

What is asthma in dogs?

Asthma is an allergic disease that's much less common in dogs than in cats. An asthma attack happens when a dog has an allergic reaction to an irritant. This irritant causes inflammation in the airway, leading to constriction and spasming of the lungs' small airways. 

The disease is typically diagnosed in middle-aged dogs and some young dogs. Small dogs are more likely to be diagnosed with the condition than large dogs. 

What are the symptoms of asthma in dogs?

Asthma symptoms in dogs may include:

  • Wheezing
  • Heavy panting with mouth wide open 
  • Difficulty breathing (often sudden)
  • Rapid breathing
  • Persistent cough
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Bluish-colored gums (caused by lack of oxygen)

Contact your vet immediately if your dog is displaying any of these symptoms, as emergency care may be required. While asthma may cause these symptoms, several other serious conditions can trigger similar symptoms. Having the issue accurately diagnosed is critical to your dog's long-term health and longevity. 

How is asthma diagnosed in dogs?

Your veterinarian will perform an in-depth physical examination to determine your dog's overall health status. Your dog may be tested for heartworms, and the vet can take X-rays to gain further insight into your pet's condition and rule out other potential causes of these symptoms.

Heart disease, heartworm disease, and bacterial infections can also cause symptoms similar to asthma in our canine companions.

What treatment options are there for dogs with asthma?

The answer to the question of how to treat asthma in dogs depends on the severity and frequency of your individual dog's asthma attacks. Anti-inflammatory steroid medications may help to control symptoms and prevent long-term lung damage. Asthma attacks can cause permanent damage to a dog’s lungs, which is why symptoms should always be taken seriously and you should contact your vet if you see any of these.

Can dogs have asthma inhalers?

Asthma inhalers may be prescribed in some cases. Albuterol sulfate (commonly sold under the brand names Ventolin or Proventil) can help the airway muscles to relax, which will improve your dog’s breathing. Always consult your veterinarian before giving your dog any medication. Many human medications are toxic to dogs.

How can I help my dog avoid asthma attacks?

Some of the most common triggers of asthma attacks in dogs include pollen, mould, cigarette smoke and cleaning products. If you and your vet are able to identify the cause behind your dog’s asthma attacks, avoid bringing the allergen into your home, as this is the best thing you can do to help your dog.

The less your dog is exposed to the irritant, the fewer attacks he or she will likely experience.

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.

Is your dog having difficulty breathing, or have you noticed symptoms of asthma in your canine companion? Contact our vets at Wolfe Animal Hospital right away to book an appointment.

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Wolfe Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Jesup companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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