How Can I Tell if My Puppy Is Getting Pneumonia?

by Cindy Quarters
    Sick puppies generally don't feel like playing.

    Sick puppies generally don't feel like playing.

    Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images

    Pneumonia is most prevalent in dogs under a year old, and if left untreated it can quickly kill them. It’s often caused by a bacterial infection, but viruses, protozoa, fungal organisms and parasites can also cause the disease. Certain symptoms can signal that your puppy has pneumonia; if you suspect he has it, it’s essential that you take him to the vet right away.

    The most obvious and common indicator of pneumonia is a frequent cough brought on by the inflammation in his lungs. Typically the cough sounds wet and may be productive, resulting in your dog coughing up mucus or phlegm. He may also have mucus dripping from his nose, though this doesn’t happen in every case. Suspect pneumonia if your dog has a cough for more than two days, especially if it’s accompanied by other symptoms of this deadly disease.

    A puppy who has pneumonia has lungs that are not only inflamed, but are also struggling to cope with excessive secretions that are his body’s response to the irritation caused by the disease. You’ll notice your puppy has to work hard to breathe and his breathing may have a raspy or wheezy sound to it. He’ll show an obvious lack of energy due to the lack of oxygen in his system and is unlikely to be interested in playing. He will be noticeably lethargic.

    It’s very common for dogs with pneumonia to lose their appetite and eat very little, if at all. Your puppy may show a significant amount of weight loss, something that can be devastating in puppies if it goes on for too long. Along with a refusal to eat, a puppy with pneumonia may refuse to drink, triggering serious and potentially fatal dehydration. Your veterinarian can help him get through this by administering intravenous fluids to keep him nourished and hydrated.

    A veterinarian can make a definitive diagnosis of pneumonia by checking your puppy carefully and running some tests. Typically your vet will listen to your pup’s breathing through a stethoscope, checking for sounds of fluid, crackling or other odd noises. She may also take a chest X-ray, which will clearly show pneumonia. The X-ray can also show if your pup has aspirated something, such as a bit of bone or a stick, that’s causing the problem. Blood and fecal tests may be indicated to help your veterinarian verify or rule out various causes of your puppy’s illness.

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    About the Author

    Cindy Quarters has been writing professionally since 1984. She writes travel, pet, gardening and technical articles, with work published in "Radiance Magazine" and the "AKC Gazette," as well as online. Quarters earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Washington State University and a master's degree in management information systems from West Coast University.

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