Did you know that dogs can get asthma? Just like humans, dogs can have bouts of wheezing, coughing, and struggling to breathe. Fortunately this condition is not common in dogs. The few dogs with the condition can usually be treated, though you may have to make some changes to your home and lifestyle to make it work.
What is asthma?
Also called allergic bronchitis in dogs, asthma is characterised by difficulty in breathing (called dyspnea). An asthmatic dog will wheeze and cough. This is caused by constriction and spasms of the upper airway; specifically, the trachea and the bronchi.
How do dogs get asthma?
Asthma attacks are triggered by an allergic reaction to something in the dog’s environment. Common allergens (things that cause an allergic reaction) include pollen, air pollution, cigarette smoke, mould spores, cleaning chemicals, and even animal dander. Older dogs and smaller dogs tend to be more at risk of developing asthma. Overweight animals are also at risk.
What are the symptoms of asthma in dogs?
- Heavy panting for a long period of time
- Coughing and wheezing
- Being out of breath
- Loss of energy
- Loss of appetite
- In serious cases, your dog’s gums may be pale or blue. If you see this, go to a vet immediately!
Asthmatic animals cough because they are trying to cough up mucous or the irritant, as these are preventing the dog from breathing properly.
If you’re worried that your dog has asthma, consult a veterinarian as soon as possible. They will be able to tell you if it really is asthma and what the best treatment is.
What’s the treatment?
Fortunately asthma is a condition that can be managed and treated. Your vet prescribe medicine for your dog. Some commonly prescribed medicines include:
- Antihistamines: these block the effects of chemicals known as histamines. Histamines are part of the body’s defence mechanism. They trigger allergic responses, so a medicine that blocks their effects can be useful.
- Bronchodilators: these drugs dilate the bronchi. This makes it much easier for the dog to breathe.
- Anti-inflammatories: Inflammation can cause asthma, so anti-inflammatory drugs can be very helpful for an asthmatic dog.
What can I do to help my dog?
Ideally your vet will help you to isolate the allergen that causes your dog’s asthma, so you can focus on getting rid of that particular one. If your vet cannot narrow down which allergen is the cause, you will have to keep the environment as clean as possible. The best thing you can do for your dog is to reduce the number of allergens that he/she is exposed to. Keep your home as dust-free as you can by sweeping regularly and avoid having carpets. Try not to use air fresheners and aerosols.