An asthmatic dog is a rarity but asthma does occur in some dogs and more so in particular breeds with a genetic disposition like the Maltese.
Asthma, also known as allergic bronchitis, is an allergic reaction in which the upper airway passages, bronchi and trachea, fill with mucous and go into spasm, making it hard for the dog to breathe (dyspnea).
Canine asthma is almost always caused by an irritant/s in the environment, collectively known as allergens.
Allergens are best described as any substance capable of producing immediate allergic reactions or asthmatic symptoms.
Triggers for setting off asthmatic symptoms include:
â€˘ Tobacco smoke.
â€˘ Cold air.
â€˘ Sensitivity to certain foods, as well as food additives as in preservatives and artificial colourings.
Please see our article on What causes anÂ Allergic Reaction.
Dog Asthmatic Symptoms
Generally speaking, a dog with asthma is a symptomatic – without asthmatic symptoms – until an actual asthma attack occurs.
When an attack happens the dogâ€™s primary asthmatic symptoms will be a dry, hacking cough and difficulty in breathing. He will also make wheezing sounds and seem unable to â€ścatch his breathâ€ť almost as thought he is gasping for air.
Other contributing asthmatic symptoms are virtually the same as those experienced by humans who have an asthmatic attack, including:
â€˘ Wheezing sounds.
â€˘ Laboured and shallow breathing.
â€˘ Open mouthed breathing.
â€˘ Spasmodic tightening and or constriction of the bronchial wall muscles.
â€˘ Flaring up of chronic (long-lasting) inflammatory disease in the airways.
â€˘ Exercise intolerance.
â€˘ Panic, your dog may paw at his face in panic trying to get his breath.
â€˘ Apathetic and disinterest in food, because breathing becomes more difficult when dogs try to eat.
â€˘ Lack of oxygen, resulting in fatigue and a bluish ting to all mouth tissues, brought on by a condition called cyanosis
CYANOSIS â€“ Cyanosis can occur when not enough oxygen reaches the lungs and the blood shows signs of reduced haemoglobin (iron containing cells). The condition is associated with purplish/bluish colouration of tissues where blood vessels are superficial as in the mouth to include, the tongue, gums and lips. It is interesting to note that similar signs are exhibited with dogs that suffer from eczema.
Diagnosis of Asthmatic Symptoms
Diagnosing asthmatic symptoms can be tricky for vets because there are other diseases which have similar symptoms to asthma.
Giving a dog a complete physical examination and reviewing its previous medical history along with speaking in-depth with his owner is a good starting point. The vet will be looking for similarities in terms of visits and treatments given. For example, if it is noted that each year the dog has presented with asthmatic symptoms in early spring when pollen counts are high, then there is a high probability that the dog is suffering an allergic reaction to an allergen/irritant.
Ruling out other serious underlying conditions with similar symptoms to asthmatic symptoms is extremely important and vets commonly use blood tests and x-rays to achieve this.
Blood tests will detect the presence of:
â€˘ Parasites such as heart worms.
â€˘ Bacterial infections, e g. kennel cough
X-rays will eliminate the possibilities of:
â€˘ Chest infections.
â€˘ Obstructions from foreign bodies.
â€˘ Lung tumours.
â€˘ Collapsed trachea.
â€˘ Heart disease.
Treating Asthmatic Symptoms
The treatment for asthmatic symptoms depends on the cause. The main reason being as the causes differ so do the treatments. For example a dog which develops an asthma attack from allergens will almost certainly respond to taking antihistamines. However antihistamines will not benefit a dog that has developed asthma symptoms through stress brought about by its ownerâ€™s lifestyle; in which case the owner will have to look closer to home for a remedy.
Some of the most common conventional treatments for asthmatic symptoms are:
1. Oxygen – during an asthma attack a dog’s lungs become deprived of oxygen. As the attack progresses, it is not uncommon for dogâ€™s to panic. This leads to an increase in the dogâ€™s heart rate which exacerbates the situation. At this point, as with humans, oxygen treatment can be vital.
2. Steroids are often used to reduce inflammation in the lungs, which if not treated can lead to breathing problems like wheezing and coughing. Steroids do have some side effects and are not always favoured by pet owners. If you are one of these owners, please refer to our segment on How can natural remedies help reduce asthmatic symptoms? Â
3. Antihistamines control the allergic component of asthma and are prescribed to dry up excess fluid in the lungs and bronchi.
4. Bronchodilators, are inhalants which are used to open up a dogâ€™s airways during an asthma attack. If your dog needs to use inhalant medications, your vet will teach you how to administer them. The usual procedure it to place a face mask over your dogâ€™s mouth and nose which is connected to a short tube called a spacer. You will need to squeeze a short puff of medication into the spacer for your dog to breathe in – the optimum time is about 7 to 10 seconds.
Dogs with Asthma Masks
Your veterinarian may not get the medication exactly right the first time and some patience and experimentation is often required to determine the correct drug or combination of drugs for your pet.
How can natural remedies help reduce asthmatic symptoms?.
Herbal and homeopathic asthma treatment can be extremely effective in pets. Depending on the severity of the asthmatic symptoms, they can reduce or even eliminate the need for synthetic drugs. Some vets will use natural remedies to compliment conventional treatments, other wonâ€™t. If yours is one of these and you feel strongly about this point, find a vet who will
We can recommend with confidence the following all natural products. Please take a moment to click on them and read about their healing benefits for treating dogs with asthmatic symptoms.
|Integrative Therapeutics NAC (N-Acetyl L-Cysteine) 60 Capsules for Dogs and Cats- $19.99Used in the treatment of acute and chronic lung conditions such as emphysema, bronchitis, chronic asthma, and cystic fibrosis.|
|Newton Homeopathics Cough – Asthma Dog & Cat 1 oz- $14.99Relieves coughing, shortness of breath, and other mild respiratory symptoms. Promotes easier breathing.|
|Only Natural Pet Bronchial Wellness Dog & Cat Herbal 4 oz- $29.99This comprehensive herbal formula is designed to support a dog or cat experiencing symptoms of bronchial congestion and cough.|
Dog Asthma Environmental Changes
The environment where your dog lives can play a huge part in bringing on your petâ€™s asthmatic symptoms and asthma attacks. The key to reducing asthmatic symptoms in your dog is three fold.
Assessing your own lifestyle and behaviour
Dogs manifest asthmatic symptoms when they undergo emotional stress. This stress factor is very often attributed to a direct link to their ownerâ€™s personal life and whether he or she is undergoing an emotional or stressful phase in their life. If you are, and your dog is stressed YOU need to slow down and be a more responsible pet owner.
Eliminating potential triggers from your dogâ€™s environment is essential to reducing its asthmatic symptoms. This requires patience and diligence on your part as each individual allergen needs to be isolated until the culprit is found. This is particularly relevant to food, and feeding utensils
Asthmatic Symptoms Avoidance
Avoiding allergens can be a very important part of managing your dog’s asthma and asthmatic symptoms. While it may be impossible to completely eliminate all allergens, many can be reduced with minimal effort on your part.
On the premise that avoidance is better than searching for a cure, we have listed the most common allergens/irritants for causing asthmatic symptoms along with suggestions of how to minimise your petâ€™s exposure to them.
House dust mites
Rinse your dogâ€™s feet off after he has been outdoors.
Keep lawns cut short.
Restrict walking to paved surfaces.
No free running in country fields/woods.
Change or wash air-conditioning filters regularly.
Keep your dog in a separate room when doing the vacuuming.
Keep your dog indoors when the lawn is being mowed.
Avoid large numbers of plants indoors.
Keep your dog out of damp basement areas.
Clean and disinfect dehumidifiers.
Use dehumidifiers frequently.
Keep carpeted rooms to a minimum and go for wooden floors where practical.
Wash your dogâ€™s bedding regularly and use very hot water.
Avoid letting your pet play with stuffed toys or sleep on stuffed furniture.
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Dog asthma, Asthmatic Symptoms and optimum nourishment
As with all illness in your pets, they will respond better and quicker if they are well nourished, because like humans, dogs are what they eat. We suggest foods with natural ingredients where possible and recommend the following food range for optimal good health for your best friend.
Dog Asthma Video
When your dog is breathing differently please check for any Asthmatic Symptoms.del.icio.us | Reddit | Slashdot | Digg | Facebook | Technorati | Google | StumbleUpon | Window Live | Tailrank | Furl | Netscape | Yahoo | BlinkList