Breathing Allergies in Dogs (Warning Signs)
Seeing your dog having breathing problems can be frightening.
It should be noted that breathing allergies in dogs typically consist of sneezing, coughing and wheezing. They may even have a runny nose just like a human suffering with a cold.
Here’s some warning’s up-front:
If your dog is actually struggling to breath, and not just showing the symptoms described above, then seek the help of a veterinary surgeon immediately.
If your dog is struggling to breath due to choking on something, then scroll down now to the video showing how to help a choking dog.
With the initial warnings covered, we can now take a look at breathing allergies in dogs and related respiratory conditions that can affect dogs.
Serious Breathing Allergies in Dogs
Probably the most serious allergic reaction a dog can suffer from that causes breathing problems is called Allergic pneumonitis.
This allergic reaction is caused by an irritant or parasite entering the dog’s lungs which then causes an allergic reaction in the dog.
The initial symptom of this allergic reaction is usually coughing.
If the allergy goes unchecked, then the following symptoms can develop:
- Weight loss.
- Breathing which appears rapid.
- Difficulty in breathing.
- Coughing including the production of blood.
- A lack of interest in anything requiring effort such as exercise.
A vet will generally prescribe a course of a corticosteroid which very frequently resolves the problem.
More Common Breathing Allergies in Dogs
Fortunately, most dog allergies that affect the breathing are not as severe as the one described in the previous paragraphs.
That being said, always treat breathing issues in your pets seriously and always consult a vet if the symptoms become worse.
The same kinds of irritants that can make humans cough, are the the same type that can cause a dog to cough, wheeze or appear to gave breathing issues.
Such allergens may include:
- House Dust
- Spray Air Fresheners
- Smoke (including cigarette smoke)
- Outside Dirt including Soil Dust and Sand
Seasonal Allergies in dogs are extremely common, and pollen and outdoor dust are the typical allergens that can cause wheezing, coughing and breathing irritation.
A frightening (yet harmless) breathing issue in dogs that can be caused by an allergen is Reverse Sneezing.
Take a look at this video by Dr. Karen Becker discussing reverse sneezing. (Duration: 4:51)
Because dogs tend to have episodes of reverse sneezing due to one particular allergen or event, it is a good idea to log the occurrences so that you can determine what is the cause.
You can then take steps to try avoid that allergen or event in the future.
Canine Asthma is a Form of Dog Allergy That Causes Breathing Problems
As dog owners, we already know that dog’s pant heavily after exercise or when they get hot.
Canine asthma is very similar to human asthma in that it is brought on by an allergen in the air.
Typical Allergens Causing Dog Asthma Include:
- Spores from Mold
- Smoke (can be from people smoking or from log burning stoves, Etc.)
- Air Freshener
- Home Cleaning Products
- Antiperspirant and Deodorant
- Vehicle Exhaust Emissions
- Garden Products Such as Fertilizers and Pesticides
Canine Asthma Symptoms:
Knowing your dog’s usual behaviors gives you an advantage in spotting behaviors that seem unusual.
You’ll already know how your dog breathes more heavily after playing fetch or when she’s been sitting in the warm sunshine.
Canine asthma looks different enough to know that your dog is having breathing problems rather than just recovering after exercise.
Asthma in Dogs – Signs to Look Out For
Keep an eye on the way that your dog breathes when she is panting.
Is her chest expanding in small amounts and are the breaths quite short? This is fairly typical panting and is normal.
Longer panting accompanied by the chest expanding fully with every pant can indicate that your dog is struggling to take in sufficient air.
The clearest sign is when your dog is panting heavily for no obvious reason. If she is cool and hasn’t been exercising, then this shouldn’t be a time for her to be panting heavily.
Wheezing and coughing are also signs of a dog suffering from asthma.
A dog suffering from asthma may also shows other signs such as a lack of interest in running and playing, or may also have a lack of appetite.
Warning Signs for Immediate Vet Treatment for Dog Asthma
Dog’s gums are an immediate warning light for dog health.
If your dog allows you to take a look at her gums and they look very pale (or they have a blue color), then see your vet immediately.
A critical reduction in oxygen in a dog (Hypoxemia), is a life threatening condition and requires immediate professional intervention.
Watch This Video Covering Dog Asthma (Duration, 4:20)
Helping Your Dog to Avoid The Canine Asthma Allergic Reactions
If you are a smoker, then respect your dog’s health when you smoke. Avoid smoking near your dog and especially indoors.
Instead of buying off-the-shelf floor cleaning products, try white vinegar diluted with water instead.
A mix of 70% vinegar to 30% water is a very effective cleaner, and the water content is enough to reduce the odour. It will still smell like vinegar, but not as much as undiluted.
Filling a few shallow dishes with baking soda and placing them around your home can help avoid the need for air fresheners. The baking soda absorbs house odours.
Make sure to not place the dishes anywhere where young children or any of your pets can reach them.
An air purifying unit that has a Hepa Filter fitted is an excellent investment. Additionally, a vacuum cleaner that also has a Hepa filter is also another great purchase.
Amazon has a wide range for both of these, so take a look at their prices and treat your dog and your home to a safer environment.
It should also be noted that the air purifier and vacuum mentioned above are also just as beneficial for us humans where allergies are concerned.
They are both the best investment that I ever bought for our own dog.
Dog Breathing Problems Not Caused by Allergies
Respiratory illness in dogs is actually quite common.
Knowing this, can help you consider if your dog’s breathing problems are down to allergies or something else entirely.
A dog can typically have breathing-related illnesses related to lung issues, airway problems or heart conditions.
A dog’s airways, the lungs and also the nasal passages always contain bacteria.
These bacteria are naturally present and are usually completely harmless.
Infections can trigger the harmless bacteria to become a health issue for your dog. The same kind of process takes place when we humans catch a cold.
When we catch a cold our breathing is certainly affected and a box of tissues is typically on hand to offer some relief.
Such infections in dogs should be treated by a vet to ensure that the infection clears up as rapidly as possible.
How to Help a Dog That is Choking Video (Duration 7:15)
Diagnosis & Treatment of More Complicated Breathing Problems in Dogs
Abnormalities at birth can also influence the health of your dog’s breathing capabilities.
There are various conditions that vet’s see in dogs such as narrowed nostrils, a narrow trachea or a cleft palate.
A dog can also have a tumor growing within the respiratory system which can also cause breathing problems.
A vet will first want to determine if the problem is in the upper airways (nostrils, throat), or if the issue is in the lower respiratory system such as the lungs.
X-rays will be taken to determine the possible cause of the breathing difficulty.
A chest x-ray is taken if the veterinary surgeon has evidence to support a problem in the lungs, and x-rays of the neck are typically taken to determine upper airway problems.
Another valuable aide for the vet to help determine the diagnosis is to learn about the history of the dog’s health and any accidents she may have had.
A serious enough accident, for example, may have resulted in a collapsed lung.
Treatment of Dog Breathing Problems
Where breathing issues exist, secretions usually persist.
Many airway and lung infections cause secretions of fluids. These fluids will produce the wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath in a dog.
A vet can prescribe medication to kill infections and in turn, reduce the secretions.
In some cases, the veterinary surgeon may have to suction-away the secretions. This would be done if the secretions were especially thick or if the amount being produced was excessive.
Antihistamines can be prescribed if the infection was indeed triggered by an allergy.
Other medications can be used for other conditions such as a dog who has a cough, but the cough is not helping to remove the secretions. A cough-suppressant medication can help ease the dog’s coughing.
Conclusion of Breathing Allergies in Dogs
Once it is appreciated that some breathing problems in dogs can be caused by serious illness, it is easier to feel more comfortable that an allergy is the most common cause of dog breathing issues.
At least with allergies, antihistamines and simply changing a few things around the house can resolve your dogs’ suffering.
Clearly, not all issues are allergy-related and the best advice is to see your vet immediately if you have any concerns at all.
It is far better to be safe than sorry.
I wish you and your dog the very best of health.