Breathing Difficulties In Dogs

Does your dog suffer from breathing difficulties?

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Breathing difficulties in dogs come in a number of forms and can be caused by several diseases both acute and chronic. Knowing what to look for when your dog experiencing difficulty breathing can help get him on track to feeling better.

Breathing difficulty is characterized by trouble breathing including gasping for air, choking, coughing, wheezing, heavily panting and not getting any air in. Dogs may show signs of distress such as heavy panting, gasping or blue or pale tongue and gums in the case of immediate emergencies. Other conditions may cause a dog to cough frequently, or wheeze and choke. Other symptoms in addition to the difficulty breathing can help narrow down the cause.

The most common causes of breathing difficulty are caused by viruses and bacteria such as Bordetella (Kennel Cough) , Lung Disease such as asthma, bronchitis or tumors, and heart disease such as heart worm or heart failure. Allergies, allergic reactions, toxins and even general pain can also cause breathing difficulty.


How can I prevent breathing difficulty in my dog?

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Keeping your dog in shape, knowing the signs and symptoms of common diseases and practicing preventive medicine can help prevent a breathing problem from occurring.

Dogs with allergies can be treated with allergy medications to prevent allergic reactions or allergies from causing coughing, sneezing or wheezing. Dogs with medical issues can be given medications to treat symptoms and prevent a breathing episode. Preventive medications such as flea and tick meds and heart worm medications can also prevent the transmission of parasites that can cause breathing problems. Vaccinating dogs that frequent dog parks, kennels or dog daycares can also help prevent Bordetella (Kennel Cough).

Keeping your dog in shape through regular exercise, or by gradually building up an exercise routine can also help prevent breathing difficulty. Not pushing your dog too hard at once will allow him to regain fitness, strengthening both the heart and lungs. Stopping when your dog appears winded or overheated will also help prevent an acute breathing episode, and can alert owners to how fit their dog is.


What should I do if I see breathing difficulty in my dog?

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If your dog has been having episodes of breathing difficulty, it is best to schedule an appointment with your local veterinarian. Your vet can then examine your dog from nose to tail and may recommend additional tests such as blood work or an X-ray. These procedures will help narrow down possible causes of the breathing issues, and make treatment easier.

Minor concerns such as allergies, parasites and colds can be treated with medication or rest to help improve symptoms. Dogs with colds or viruses such as Bordetella (Kennel Cough) may need additional medications such as a cough suppressant to help prevent damage to the lungs and throat and soothe sore tissues.

Canine Dermatitis

Dogs with more severe disease such as tumors, heart failure or heart worm may need more aggressive treatments to help improve symptoms. This may include medications to treat the breathing problem itself in addition to other medications to treat the underlying condition. Additional therapies such as physical therapy or chemotherapy may help as well.

If your dog has had several episodes of breathing difficulty, keeping him calm, quiet and inactive is best until he can be treated by a vet. This will help prevent the problem from becoming acute respiratory distress – an emergency situation. If an emergency does arise, knowing the numbers of local emergency vets as well as techniques such as canine CPR can be life-saving and help buy your dog extra time.


Natural remedies for treating breathing difficulties in dogs

Natural remedies are a great way to treat some of the underlying conditions and symptoms that can cause breathing difficulty. Licorice and Wild Cherry Bark can provide help in coughing situations and may soothe inflamed tissues.  Echinacea and Garlic can boost the immune system, making the transmission of conditions such as Bordetella (Kennel Cough) less likely.  Homeopathic treatments include Bryonia 30C,  Drosera 9C,  and Rumex 6C for aiding in cough and boosting immune system.  These can be used in addition to other natural remedies, or may be helpful for boosting the function of traditional prescription medications.

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