Breathing problems in dogs can be caused by something as normal as sneezing, a runny nose, a cough or teary eyes. These reactions are common in dogs and nothing you should worry about. However, if you notice your dog is suddenly having difficulty breathing, it could indicate a simple respiratory infection or it may be signs of a more serious disease.
Some of the most critical breathing problems in dogs include Respiratory Cancer, Kennel cough, Pneumonia, Fungal Infections, Cryptococcosis, Valley Fever, Asthma, Laryngeal Paralysis, and Aspergillosis.
Respiratory Cancer is found less often than any other form of cancer in dogs, although it is not unheard of for tumors to form in a dog’s lungs having spread from cancer in other parts of its body. The most common form of this Respiratory Cancer occurs in a dog’s nasal sinus passages.
Kennel cough is a mild yet highly contagious disease that affects the upper respiratory system. If not treated properly it can develop into fatal bronchopneumonia or chronic bronchitis in puppies and in older inactive dogs who spend most of their time sleeping or just lying around the house.
The factors that increase a dog’s susceptibility to kennel cough are stress, temperature and humidity. For a dog to catch Kennel cough it has to inhale the bacteria that causes the disease. The most likely dog to catch the disease is one who has been kept in a shelter or kennel (hence the name) with close contact to other dogs.
Pneumonia is an inflammation of the lungs and the most common types of pneumonia are bacterial and fungal infections . You can spot a dog with pneumonia because it will have difficulty breathing, cough a lot, have a fever, and more than likely, lose its appetite.
Fungal Infections are another cause of respiratory problems in dogs.
Cryptococcosis is a systemic disease that affects a dog’s respiratory tract, its eyes, skin and central nervous system. This fungus is commonly found in soil and in chicken and bird droppings. The infection causes lesions on the face, legs and lungs and it can quickly spread to a dog’s central nervous system. Once the fungus reaches the dog’s brain, there is little hope of saving the dog.
Valley Fever affects dogs that live in dry areas of the southwestern U. S. Luckily the fungus in not very contagious and most dogs develop an immunity to it.
Asthma is a rare condition in which the air passages to a dog’s lungs fill with mucus, then swell and spasm. This limits the amount of air that can reach a dog’s lungs, causing wheezing, coughing and an inability to easily catch its breath. Asthma is fairly easy to recognize because the symptoms are the same as those in humans.
Laryngeal Paralysis symptoms include noisy breathing, an intolerance to exercise or walking, vomiting, coughing, and the inability to catch its breath. The larynx, or voice box, is located in the throat and connects the mouth and nasal passages. The muscles attached to the larynx become paralyzed due to the dysfunction of nerves in the throat and cause serious breathing problems.
If your dog’s breathing sounds like a freight train trying to climb up a steep incline, you can safely assume it has Laryngeal Paralysis. This is a disease that requires veterinarian care.
Aspergillosis is a serious disease affecting a dog’s mucous membranes and nasal chambers. It is most common in younger dogs, especially those breeds with long noses. Symptoms include sneezing, nasal pain and lethargy. If not treated, the fungus can easily grow to the point where it destroys the dog’s nasal passages and infects its skull and eyes.
Breathing problems in dogs should never be ignored. If they are, the chances of your dog’s recovery and survival will be significantly reduced if it does not receive the necessary treatment in the early stages of the disease.
Always watch for breathing problems in your dog and contact your veterinarian if any of these symptoms persist or get worse.