Bronchopneumonia is serious inflammation of the lungs and airways that can be life-threatening if left untreated. While this disease is not as deep in the lungs as standard pneumonia, both are equally serious and the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. If you suspect your dog may have bronchopneumonia, consult your vet immediately.
What is Bronchopneumonia?
Bronchopneumonia is an inflammation of the upper lungs and airways, including the bronchi and bronchioles, usually due to either bacterial infection or a foreign body in the lungs. In some cases, a severe parasitic infection or fungal infection may also cause the condition. Irritants in the air, such as smog or tobacco smoke, can increase your dog's risk for bronchopneumonia. Symptoms of the condition may include coughing, fever, weight loss, nasal discharge, labored breathing and crackling sounds from the lungs.
A number of bacterial infections may lead to bronchopneumonia, including kennel cough, strep throat, avian cholera, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella pneumoniae, E. coli and Mycoplasma. Some dogs have a higher risk of this disease, including those with viral infections, cleft palate, chronic vomiting, uncontrolled diabetes or Addison's disease. Very young and very old dogs, as well as those with reduced immune systems, are also at higher risk. Most dogs who receive prompt treatment for this disease will recover.
Dogs may also get bronchopneumonia from inhaling foreign objects, including both solids and liquids. Dogs who attempt to eat or drink quickly or while choking and those who are put under with anesthesia are at risk. Dogs or puppies who are given a liquid, either medicine or milk, by syringe may aspirate as well if it is delivered too quickly. This type of bronchopneumonia is usually more serious than the bacterial type, and the prognosis is not as positive.
If your dog has bacterial bronchopneumonia, your vet will most likely recommend broad spectrum antibiotics in order to eliminate the bacterial infection. He may also suggest expectorants, IV fluids or oxygen treatment to help manage the symptoms while your dog recovers. The treatment for aspiration pneumonia is more focused on support, and may include a transtracheal wash, fluids, expectorants, antioxidants and oxygen therapy to help reduce the symptoms while your dog's body breaks down and reabsorbs the foreign substance.