Has your dog been experiencing episodes of coughing, wheezing, or breathing problems? Then, it's time to ascertain if he's suffering from canine bronchitis. A dog with bronchitis is a common occurrence within the canine population, alongside other respiratory issues. Anything from exposures to irritants (e.g., cigarette smoke, air pollutants, dust, mold, and air pollutants) to a weakened immune system and even bacterial or viral infections are enough to trigger this disease in dogs, whether chronic or acute. What you need to do to be proactive before your dog contracts this illness is to identify the symptoms and utilize the appropriate tools and remedies to counter them. This way, your dog's bronchitis will be nothing else but a passing, non-threatening cough!
Today's article will teach dog parents how to identify and treat this disease. Aside from the standard medical approach, we will also propose holistic remedies that will soothe your dog's respiratory system and bring the unwanted cough to an end!
Can Dogs Have Bronchitis?
Bronchitis is a respiratory disease best described as an inflammation in the lungs, affecting the tiny air tubes called bronchi and bronchioles. As the bronchial airways (i.e., which allow the air to travel through the lungs) become inflamed, mucus production is accelerated, leading to irritation and coughing. The more your dog's bronchitis is allowed to progress, the more symptoms such as breathing difficulties will worsen. For that reason, it's imperative that you learn how to read the signs before the disease can take hold of your dog's health and well-being!
Canine Bronchitis Types
Bronchitis in dogs manifests itself in two ways:
#1: Acute Bronchitis
First off, we have acute bronchitis, a temporal inflammation of the bronchial airways caused by a bacterial or viral infection. Dogs contract this disease only when coming into contact with infected canines. But exposure to bronchitis is not enough for other dogs to become sick themselves. Other factors, such as stress, extreme temperatures, and a weakened immune system, come into play when exposed to this disease. Furthermore, puppies and senior dogs are at an increased risk of becoming infected, so be sure to keep an extra set of eyes on them!
Is Acute Bronchitis Contagious?
At this point, you're probably wondering, "Will my dog's acute bronchitis pass off to myself or my family?" We're here to put your concerns at ease: bronchitis is not a zoonotic disease, meaning that it won't affect you and your loved ones, nor will your bronchitis settle in your dog's respiratory system. However, the disease still travels from one dog to another, so be extra careful when you hear an unwanted couch in the playground!
#2: Chronic Bronchitis
On the other hand, chronic bronchitis is a long-term, irreversible respiratory disease that affects the lower airways of a dog's lung with increased mucus production. The longer the acute bronchitis is allowed to thrive, the bigger the chances it will turn into its chronic form. Therefore, most cases are diagnosed after two months of prolonged symptoms. Although it has no single identifiable cause, chronic bronchitis usually occurs in breeds such as Poodles and Cocker Spaniels.
Is Chronic Bronchitis Contagious?
Unlike its acute counterpart, chronic bronchitis is neither contagious nor zoonotic, meaning that you, your family, and other canines do not run the risk of contracting this disease.
The Causes behind Bronchitis in Dogs
Different types of irritants lie at the onset of this disease. Anything from cigarette smoke and air pollutants to household chemicals and dust mold is identified by veterinarians as a culprit. Other factors, such as lungworm and heartworm, can also be behind your dog's bronchitis. But, of course, foreign invaders cannot spearhead the spread of this disease without the help of a weakened immune system. Therefore, be sure to keep your dog in a healthy environment, clear of household hazards, bacteria, and viruses that might put your dog on a clear path toward getting sick.
Bronchitis in Dogs — Symptoms
The majority of the canine population shows little to no symptoms aside from the expected daily cough accompanied by retching. Dog parents can minimize this symptom by minimizing leash time — the cough will intensify as the dog pulls on the leash — and avoiding situations where the dog gets overexcited.
However, not all dogs are monosymptomatic (i.e., manifest only one symptom) when dealing with dog bronchitis. Additional symptoms attributed to this respiratory disease are:
- Breathing difficulties;
- Blue gums (i.e., if the dog is not getting enough air);
- Increased mucus production due to the inflammation in the airways;
- Coughing up a mixture of mucus and saliva, called sputum.
Diagnosing a Dog with Bronchitis
The tricky aspect of diagnosing canine bronchitis is the similarity between its symptoms and the symptoms of other respiratory infections, such as kennel cough and lungworm. Therefore, any of the aforementioned symptoms should be brought to the attention of a veterinarian. An initial chest radiograph corroborated with the dog's symptoms and medical history could be enough for a preliminary diagnosis. Your vet will probably recommend an additional test, bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL), to thoroughly differentiate between bronchitis and other respiratory diseases. BAL is a more thorough test because it involves taking samples from the lungs, which are then analyzed for foreign bacteria and parasites in a lab setting. Please disclose your dog's complete medical history to your vet prior to the BAL to avoid anesthesia-related complications.
Dog Bronchitis Remedies
Now that we've learned more about the origins and symptoms of bronchitis, let's take a look at the main treatment modalities veterinarians and expert nutritionists recommend. The most common treatment employed by veterinarians takes the form of steroids like prednisone, with clinically proven results: prednisone is excellent at drying up the mucus building up inside the lungs, relieving inflammation, and cutting excess secretions in dogs with bronchitis.
Regardless of the steroid treatment's efficacy, dog parents must be aware of prednisone's side effects. Research on the canine population treated with corticosteroids has shown that dogs who receive such treatment manifest impaired bodily functions such as wound healing and thyroid issues. Moreover, such dogs are more predisposed to fungal and urinary tract infections (UTIs) and iatrogenic (i.e., medication-induced) Cushing's disease. The range of these health issues is explained by their connection with the canine gut microbiome, which prednisone throws into disorder by killing helpful bacteria. These are solid reasons why dog parents shouldn't rely on extensive prednisone treatment nor ignore holistic remedies to supplement the bronchitis treatment naturally.
Dog Bronchitis Home Remedies
The following natural remedies have been documented to relieve some of the symptoms associated with bronchitis and other respiratory issues, such as sinusitis or kennel cough. However, homemade remedies are not designed to replace professional veterinary care — do not hesitate to contact a veterinarian if symptoms worsen or persist. A more severe medical condition may be hiding behind bronchitis symptoms, so take any precaution necessary.
#1: Install a Humidifier in Your Home
Keeping your dog's bronchitis symptoms in check starts with the air he breathes, and a humidifier will help you take that first step. Humidifiers are an excellent way to soothe chronic cough by keeping the air moist. If you don't have a humidifier at your disposal, you can try running a hot shower for your dog with the bathroom door closed — all that steam will help clear out the bronchial tubes and impede the mucus from becoming lodged in the lungs. This website will help you choose the optimal humidifier for your dog!
#2: Remove and Scarves or Collars
Dogs who suffer from bronchitis are more sensitive in the neck area, which is why the pressure exerted by a scarf or collar might worsen their\ symptoms. Therefore, it is recommended that dog parents limit scarf and collar time for their dogs, at least when wearing them is not necessary.
#3: Try Some Licorice Root
Both scientific research and anecdotal evidence point toward the effectiveness of licorice root in treating upper respiratory infection symptoms by inhibiting inflammation. If you're considering using licorice root as a natural bronchitis remedy, you can feed it to your dog in the shape of a tincture (12-20 drops/20 pounds of body weight, twice per day) or cooled tea (1 teaspoon of licorice root per cup of water).
Among its impressive array of benefits, soothing and moistening the throat is another advantage of including honey in your dog's diet. And if you're set on this natural remedy, go with Manuka honey, a superfood with healing properties that benefit the respiratory system and gastrointestinal (GI) health, which go above and beyond regular honey! All you have to do is mix honey and warm water with a bit of lemon and let the dog drink the mixture from the bowl. Otherwise, you can use a small syringe to apply the mixture to your dog's throat for quicker results. All that moisture and antibacterial properties will work wonders on your dog's respiratory system!
Last on the list of natural dog bronchitis remedies we have dandelions, a rich source of nutrients (e.g., vitamins and antioxidants) that will fortify your dog's cardiovascular system and help him ward off bronchitis symptoms. The most straightforward methods of including dandelions in your dog's diet are adding a teaspoon of dry leaves to his food bowl or going with dandelion root essence. Or have a shot at making your own dandelion oil!
When is It Time to Go to the Vet?
You've tried all the remedies in the book, but your dog's cough is still resounding throughout the house? It might be time to pay a visit to the vet. As mentioned earlier, bronchitis manifests symptoms identical to other cardiovascular or respiratory diseases (e.g., heart disease or tracheal collapse). Other diseases, such as kennel cough, are highly contagious, putting the canine population at risk of infection. Therefore, after the first few days of recurrent symptoms, if the cough doesn't go away even after removing the allergens, then it's time to consider veterinary care.
Schedule a Consultation with Volhard Dog Nutrition to Learn More about Canine Nutrition!
Bronchitis doesn't have to become a nuisance for your dog's respiratory system, and with today's knowledge, you're ready to prevent, recognize, and treat this disease before it can affect your dog's well-being! However, don't hesitate to see a specialist the second you notice worsened symptoms that require medical attention. For more advice on dog nutrition, health, and training, make sure that you contact us and check out our blog!
Volhard Dog Nutrition and its expert nutritionists are now offering online consultations to help more dog parents discover why, what, and how to feed their dogs the healthiest of foods! Speaking to a Volhard nutritionist will help you understand the inseparable relationship between healthy food, a healthy body, and a healthy mind. If you're interested in contacting one of our Volhard nutritionists, don't hesitate to access our consultation page!