Canine Respiratory Problems Should Not Be Taken Lightly

By Tess Thompson

Canine respiratory problems can originate in various locations in the tract, occurring in either the upper respiratory tract (nose and windpipe) or the lower respiratory tract (chest and lungs). These conditions can range from a minor tickle in the nose to trauma and labored breathing to clinical shock. Regardless of the place of origin, practically all canine respiratory problems can cause obvious changes in the breathing pattern of your dog.

Even though symptoms like coughing and sneezing may seem minor, they should not be taken lightly. Sneezing and nasal discharges are not illnesses in their own right. However, they accompany a number of other respiratory conditions like hay fever, foreign objects in the tract, or nasal tumors.

Intense or persistent sneezing can result in a nosebleed. Generally, nosebleeds are manageable. They can be managed by applying a cold compress to the top of the nose between eyes and nostrils. However, care needs to be taken to tilt the dog’s head towards the back to avoid the nasal passage being choked by the dripping blood.

Coughing is usually triggered by inflammation or damage to the mucosa that lines the inner air passages. The most common cause is an allergy, pollutant inhalation, infection or a foreign substance in the air passage. A harsh, dry cough that is often termed as ‘honking cough’, however, is indicative of kennel cough in dogs.

A dry cough in puppies and dogs is highly contagious. It is caused by the bacterium Bordetella bronchiseptica. If your dog has been boarded recently or has visited an infected area and starts to cough after about three or four days (the incubation period of the bacterium), there is a strong possibility that your dog has contracted the infection. To make sure your hypothesis is correct, you can check by applying a slight pressure on the collar area. If it produces spasms of cough, you can be sure that the wind pipe has been inflamed and that the dog is suffering from kennel cough. Dogs that have been vaccinated against the bacterium are less prone to kennel cough. Certain natural remedies that strengthen immune system can be of great help in preventing future infection.

Foreign objects can also cause coughing. Usually home treatment is sufficient, for even a small blade of grass can be removed with the careful use of tweezers. However, if you cannot see the object, the veterinarian may be the best person for the job.

Various types of breathing problems like rapid and shallow breathing, labored breathing, noisy breathing, wheezing and choking may be caused by an obstruction, allergy, smoke inhalation and pain. Some of the other reasons include chest injury, pneumonia, heatstroke, a collapsed windpipe or lung, and a torn diaphragm.

A change in breathing patterns may also indicate problems with the dog’s heart. Therefore, it is advisable to pay heed to any kind of a respiratory problem that you may notice and take immediate action.


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