Pneumonia refers to an infection or inflammation of the lungs. It differs from bronchitis, which is inflammation of the bronchi (air passages to lungs). When they occur together it is called bronchopneumonia. All dogs are at risk, however, puppies under one year of age are most susceptible. Typically, pneumonia is a result from inhaling a bacteria, contracting it from other tissues in the body or as the result of another medical condition.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Evaluate the dog for symptoms of pneumonia. Dogs suffering from pneumonia typically have a cough. Other signs of pneumonia include difficulty breathing, mucous secretions, wheezing or panting, sneezing, lethargy (lack of energy), fever, loss of appetite, listlessness and dehydration.
Determine the source. Pneumonia in dogs could be a result of an upper respiratory infection or distemper (a viral disease that can lead to death). A fungus such as coccidioidomycosis or a parasite such as lung worm also can cause pneumonia. Allergies can cause excessive inflammation in the lungs, leading to pneumonia. Often, bacterial pneumonia occurs after the dog has come down with kennel cough (respiratory infection). Heart conditions and the passage of liquid into the lung can also trigger pneumonia in dogs. If the dog is in stable condition, treatment can be provided from home.
Stimulate the immune system with herbs and vitamins like echinacea, red clover and vitamin C. Use essential oils like lavender, eucalyptus and tea tree oil, which work like an antibacterial and antiviral. Garlic, onion and eucalyptus function as an antiseptic. Chamomile essential oil has a calming effect and can be used in a vaporizer and diffuser.
Break up secretions deep in the lung with percussion therapy. Cup both hands and tap the dog’s chest gently yet rapidly. Do this repeatedly and the loosened secretions can be expelled through coughing. Perform percussion therapy approximately four times per day.
Optimize hydration and assist in clearing mucous buildup by using fluid therapy (fluids provided intravenously). A veterinarian can administer these fluids. Use a nebulizer or vaporizer for hydrating the airways. Steam from the bathroom can work as well. Restrict the dog from extreme temperatures, but some physical activity is desirable. Avoid cough suppressing drugs. Coughing eliminates mucous and infection from the dog’s system.