Watching your dog gasp for air is a frightening experience, but if he has allergic bronchitis, wheezing and shortness of breath are common if he's exposed to an offending allergen. Whether you call it allergic bronchitis or asthma, it's a serious condition. Fortunately you can manage it with your vet's help.
You Can Call it Asthma
Often referred to as asthma, allergic canine bronchitis is rooted in an allergic reaction. The allergen can be almost anything -- cigarette smoke, perfume, chemicals, pollen, grass, mold -- just about anything that can be inhaled. Fungal infections and parasites can also cause a reaction in his airways, leading to the same result. As Buck's lower respiratory tract becomes inflamed from the allergen that triggers his reaction, he'll have a hard time breathing, referred to as dyspnea.
Hack Hack Hack
A dry, hacking cough is the classic symptom of allergic bronchitis. The cough may develop over time or it can present suddenly. Your pup may also wheeze, experience shortness of breath and resort to open-mouth breathing. Other symptoms include lethargy and little interest in exercise. Left untreated, the condition can progress to more serious chronic bronchitis. If Buck develops a raspy cough, get him to the vet as soon as you're able; it's easier to treat allergic bronchitis than irreversible chronic bronchitis. Any dog can experience asthma, though young to middle-aged dogs, as well as obese dogs, tend to experience the condition at higher rates.
Time to Investigate
The vet will perform a variety of tests to search for potential causes of Buck's persistent hack. You'll need to provide a thorough medical history of your dog, which will be considered with his symptoms and test results. Blood work may show a specific type of white blood cell often present with allergic diseases. Stool samples, chest X-rays and echocardiograms also add diagnostic value. Be prepared to discuss when you noticed your pup's behavior, including the specific symptoms, such as coughing or wheezing, as well as the duration and frequency of symptoms.
Early Action is Best
The benefit to getting Buck diagnosed and treated when you first notice his symptoms is an improved prognosis because there's less risk his bronchi suffered any long-term damage. Glucocorticoids and bronchodilators are typically used to decrease the number and effects of allergic reactions. If the vet finds a secondary infection, your pup may receive an antibiotic as part of his treatment. If his bronchitis is triggered by a fungal disease, he'll take an antifungal medication. In the meantime, you'll have to pay attention -- perhaps even keep a journal -- to where and when Buck exhibits symptoms. The vet will likely ask about your pup's environment and any possible changes potentially triggering his response. It could be as simple as a new kitty litter, cleaning product or perfume, so think hard when you're re-tracing your steps. Allergic canine bronchitis is manageable and shouldn't compromise your pup's quality of life if treated.