Dogs suffering from chronic bronchitis and tracheobronchitis (kennel cough) show many of the same symptoms, but these types of bronchitis differ in a few important ways. Today our Leighton vets discuss the causes, signs, and treatment of bronchitis in dogs.
Infectious Tracheobronchitis (Kennel Cough) in Dogs
Tracheobronchitis is an acute respiratory illness that typically lasts about 2 weeks, commonly referred to as kennel cough. The name of this highly contagious disease stems from the fact that tracheobronchitis infects your dog's trachea or 'windpipe' as well as the bronchial tubes.
Several viruses can cause this form of bronchitis in dogs including adenovirus type-2, parainfluenza virus, canine coronavirus, and the bacterium Bordetella bronchiseptica.
This form of bronchitis in dogs is extremely contagious. If your dog is showing any of the signs below, isolate your pup from other dogs and contact your vet right away.
Signs of Tracheobronchitis
Dogs with tracheobronchitis typically develop a loud cough, often compared to a 'goose honk'. Other signs of tracheobronchitis include cold-like symptoms such as:
- Coughing when the dog's throat is pet
- Coughing during or after play or exercise
- Spitting up foamy saliva
- Runny eyes and nose
- Swollen tonsils
- Loss of appetite
- Depressed or lethargic behavior
If your dog is diagnosed with infectious tracheobronchitis their cough may persist for several weeks after the infection has cleared up.
Treatment for Infectious Tracheobronchitis
The appropriate treatment for tracheobronchitis will depend on the underlying cause of your dog's condition. Antibiotics can be used to treat bacterial infections such as Bordetella bronchiseptica, but in other cases, your vet may prescribe medications such as cough suppressants and anti-inflammatory medications to help relieve your dog's symptoms.
Chronic Bronchitis in Dogs
Chronic bronchitis or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is ongoing inflammation of your dog's respiratory system. The condition, which is irreversible and gradually progressive, is characterized by symptoms lasting longer than 2 months and is most often seen in toy and small dogs who are middle-aged or older.
The underlying cause of this type of bronchitis is largely unknown but the condition may be associated with inhaled irritants such as tobacco smoke, air pollution, or allergins (allergic bronchitis in dogs). Recurring respiratory infections and the bacteria associated with dental disease may also play a role in the development of chronic bronchitis in dogs.
Signs of Chronic Bronchitis in Dogs
Signs of chronic bronchitis in dogs can be very similar to those of tracheobronchitis listed above, but become progressively more severe over time.
When the condition is in the early stages symptoms usually include a dry persistent cough often followed by gagging. As the disease progresses you may notice:
- Dry cough
- Breathing difficulties
- Noisy breathing
- Intolerance for physical activity
In the later stages of the disease, you may notice that the skin around your dog's mouth has a blue tinge to it.
Chronic bronchitis can be successfully managed and many dogs being treated for the condition can go on to live a good quality of life and have an average life expectancy.
Treating Chronic Bronchitis in Dogs
Dogs showing severe symptoms of chronic bronchitis such as respiratory distress may need to be hospitalized and given oxygen therapy and/or intravenous medication to stabilize their condition. Medications and other treatments commonly prescribed for chronic bronchitis include:
- Cough suppressants
- Antibiotics for secondary bacterial infections
- Corticosteroids to help decrease inflammation and ease coughing
- Inhalers (puffers)
- Dental descaling, cleaning, and polishing under general anesthesia
- Avoidance of irritants and allergens where possible
- Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, or immune stimulant supportive treatments and supplements
Your veterinarian will discuss all the options with you and help you decide which options are best for your pet. Medications may need to be adjusted periodically when symptoms flare up.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please visit your vet.