Bronchospasms in Dogs

by Mary Lougee
"Yeah, cough all night and sleep all day. I've got your number Poochie."

"Yeah, cough all night and sleep all day. I've got your number Poochie."

Janie Airey/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Canine bronchospasms occur when an irritant creates a hyperresponsive airway, narrowing of the airway and muscle spasms in the bronchi, or breathing tubes. This response is called asthma, bronchitis or bronchial asthma with coughing and wheezing. Asthma is most common in dogs when they are 2 to 8 years old and is not breed specific. If you notice your dog in respiratory distress, he needs to be seen by a vet to receive treatment and control symptoms.

Asthma Symptoms

Asthma varies in all degrees from very mild to very severe symptoms and distress. Your canine friend will have a chronic cough that is unproductive without mucus production, it sounds like a dry cough. He also may have audible wheezing in a high pitch accompanied by the cough as he tries to clear his airways and obtain more air in his lungs. Dogs are more prone to coughing and wheezing at night when they are lying down. If you notice these symptoms, take your dog to your veterinarian to seek treatment before the distress worsens. Your pet isn't trying to make you lose sleep, he just needs treatment.

Asthma Triggers

Inhaled allergens affect your pet and cause bronchospasms. The most common triggers of an asthma attack are pollen, grass, dust mites, mold and cigarette smoke. Many pets are sensitive to these allergens. Common household items also can be the culprit including cleaning products, paint or varnish, perfume, dust from cat litter, aerosol sprays and flea products. Some dogs are allergic to a particular dog food ingredient and benefit by changing the diet. If you notice a certain trigger just before an asthma attack, remove it from your dog's environment and inform your vet about it. Removal of the item may increase your dog's comfort level greatly. Stress and overexertion also can cause an asthma attack.

Diagnostic Tests

Your veterinarian will do diagnostic testing on your fur buddy to determine what course of treatment he needs. This usually includes a chest radiograph and a tracheal wash with saline solution that is administered with your pet under sedation, and then aspirated out to be examined for an increase in white blood cells. These procedures do not hurt your pet, though he may need extra attention after sedation while he is groggy.

Asthma Treatments

There are several types of asthma treatments depending on the severity of the symptoms in your pet. Bronchodilators open the airway allowing more air in and out of the lungs to relieve stress. This prescription generally is administered through a breathing treatment. Corticosteroids decrease inflammation and dilate the airway while decreasing mucus. These are usually given in pill form. If your pooch has been diagnosed with a breathing problem or he suddenly has extreme respiratory distress, rush him to an emergency facility for treatment.

Photo Credits

  • Janie Airey/Digital Vision/Getty Images