Canine Pulmonary Disease

Keep your dog healthy by watching for early signs of pulmonary disease. Images

Canines are susceptible to many of the same medical issues as humans, including pulmonary, or lung, disease. Interestingly enough, pulmonary disease in dogs generally does not start from issues with the lungs. When recognized early, it is generally treatable with the proper medication and help from a veterinarian.


Pulmonary disease is often caused by an underlying disease or condition that reduces lung capacity. For instance, a canine suffering from heart disease may suffer from lung disease due to added pressure on the lungs from an enlarged heart. Also, conditions such as heart worm disease, parasite infestation and allergic reactions may cause pulmonary disease. If your dog has a virus, such as kennel cough or the flu, he may also suffer from chronic bronchitis, leading to pulmonary disease cause by fluid in the lungs. Unfortunately, older dogs may suffer from lung cancer that often causes discomfort and complications that may lead to lung disease.

Signs and Symptoms

Pulmonary disease may cause respiratory stress and make breathing difficult for your dog. If he is breathing more rapidly than 10 to 30 times per minute, wheezing, coughing, taking shallow breaths or creating a high-pitched noise while exercising, he may be suffering from lung disease. Other likely causes are poisoning, diabetes, kidney disease or heat stroke. When breathing becomes labored, your canine may be lethargic and lack energy. He may eventually lose his appetite as well.


Your vet may perform several tests to determine the cause of your pet’s discomfort. For instance, a chest X-ray helps determine if the lungs are filled with fluid. He may perform a bronchoscopy to examine the large airways with a flexible scope called a bronchoscope. Blood samples help the vet determine if your dog is suffering from lung disease due to the possible failure of internal organs or a bacterial infection. After taking a sample of your canine’s feces, the vet may examine it for internal parasites.


The type of underlying cause or disease diagnosed determines what treatment is necessary. Treatment for pulmonary disease in dogs may include corticosteroids, cough suppressants or antibiotics that treat bacterial infections. Also, bronchodilators may offer your dog relief by relaxing the air passages. If allergies are the culprit, your vet may prescribe antihistamines. Treatments are available in the form of pill or suspension and you generally have to give them orally.