Bacterial Bronchopneumonia (Pneumonia) in Dogs

Overview of Canine Bacterial Bronchopneumonia

Bronchopneumonia is an inflammation of the lungs and the bronchi, which are the larger air passages conveying air to and within the lungs. Bronchopneumonia is usually related to a bacterial infection and may be caused by many different kinds. Bacterial Bronchopneumonia is commonly referred to by the shortened name “Pneumonia”.

Bacterial pneumonia is an important cause of illness and death in dogs, especially in hospitalized animals. The route of infection is typically inhalation, and bacteria that is spread by blood is less common and can be very difficult to treat.

Pneumonia can occur in dogs and cats, but is more common in dogs. Sporting dogs, hounds, working dogs and mixed breed dogs over 25 pounds may be predisposed. Most affected pets are under one year of age. However, the age range varies from two months to 15 years.

Prompt recognition and treatment of bronchopneumonia is important.

What to Watch For

Diagnosis of Pneumonia in Dogs

Diagnostic tests are needed to recognize bronchopneumonia and exclude other diseases. Your veterinarian should perform a complete medical history and physical examination, including careful auscultation of the heart and lungs. Lung sounds are often abnormal with a “crackle” upon auscultation when your dog takes a deep breath.

Medical history may include questions regarding your pet’s previous illness or illnesses, therapy and response to therapy, appetite, weight loss, activity or exercise intolerance, cough and environmental exposure to dusts, smoke and vapors. Other tests may include:

Other tests may include:

Treatment of Pneumonia in Dogs

Pneumonia causes difficulty breathing and can be a severe and progressive condition. Severely ill pets may require hospitalization with oxygen, intravenous fluids, antibiotics and supportive care. Mildly affected pets that are well hydrated and eating properly may be treated as outpatients, but would require frequent follow-ups to monitor the progression of the infection. Treatments for bronchopneumonia may include one or more of the following:

Some treatment may not be of help and are rarely used. These include:

Home Care and Prevention

Keep your pet warm, dry and indoors, if possible, and encourage him to eat and drink. Avoid cough suppressants.

Follow-up with your veterinarian for examinations, laboratory tests and radiographs. Administer any veterinary-prescribed antibiotics.

Do not over-exercise your pet; allow only what your pet can tolerate. Do not allow your pet to get short of breath during exercise/activity. Use a harness instead of a collar; this is less restricting to the neck, and will allow your pet to breathe easier.

There aren’t any specific recommendations for prevention of pneumonia other than eliminating the predisposing causes. If your pet is exposed to smoke, dusts, fumes, barns or crop dust, these should be eliminated. Provide routine vaccinations as recommended by your veterinarian and vaccinate dogs for kennel cough (Bordetella bronchiseptica) if boarding or if there is much exposure to other dogs.

In-depth Information on Pneumonia in Dogs

It is essential to consider the underlying risk factors and predispositions for pneumonia. This can help eliminate the cause and prevent its reoccurrence. Underlying risk factors may include:

Other medical problems can lead to symptoms similar to those encountered in bronchopneumonia. Organisms that can cause bronchopneumonia may include:

Diseases that can appear similar to those with bronchopneumonia include:

In-depth Information on Diagnosis

Veterinary care should include diagnostic tests and subsequent treatment recommendations. Diagnostic tests are needed to recognize bronchopneumonia and exclude other diseases.

A complete medical history and thorough physical examination should be performed by your veterinarian. Clinical signs, radiography and a hemogram are usually sufficient to make a presumptive diagnosis of bacteria pneumonia. Airway cytology and culture can confirm the diagnosis.

Further diagnostic testing may be needed to diagnosis a concurrent condition or eliminate other causes of similar symptoms (such as heart disease). These tests may include:

In-depth Information on Treatment

Treatment of bronchopneumonia is usually individualized based on the severity of your pet’s condition, the cause, secondary diseases or conditions and other factors that must be analyzed by your veterinarian.

Pneumonia can be a severe and progressive condition that causes difficulty breathing. Severely ill pets with a fever, not eating, lethargic and/or difficulty breathing may require hospitalization with oxygen, intravenous fluids and antibiotics and supportive care.

Mildly affected pets that are well hydrated and eating properly may be treated as an outpatient with frequent follow-ups to monitor the progression of the infection.

Treatment of bronchopneumonia may include the following:

Follow-up Care for Dogs with Pneumonia

Optimal treatment for your dog requires a combination of home and professional veterinary care. Follow-up can be critical and may include the following: