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Can Dogs Have Asthma?

Written by Anna Hollisey

Updated

Sneezing pekingese

Yes. Like some humans, dogs can suffer from asthmatic symptoms as a result of an allergic reaction. It’s caused by an inflammation of airways in the lungs, which makes breathing difficult. 

What Causes Asthma in Dogs?

Dogs can suffer from asthma or allergic bronchitis due to an environmental allergy. That could be caused by pollen, grass, dust mites, pollution or cat fur. It could also be caused by a synthetic allergen like household cleaners, air fresheners or pesticides.

If your dog is sensitive to one of those allergens, their immune system goes into hyperdrive and produces additional symptoms while it tries to rid the body of the allergen. Those could include watery eyes, runny nose, and inflammation of the bronchial tubes (airways inside the lungs).

What are the Symptoms of Asthma in Dogs?

So dog asthma is a thing, but it’s not very common (in fact, cats are more prone to asthma). It is more likely to affect older dogs and certain breeds such as Pugs and Bulldogs (the Brachycephalic types).

If your dog is coughing or wheezing but has no allergies, you should talk to your vet for tests to rule out things like kennel cough and bronchitis

Here are the symptoms of asthma in dogs:

  • Wheezing or labored breathing
  • Excessive panting
  • Coughing, caused by excess mucus.

If you see your dog suffering from any of these symptoms – and especially if they seem to be distressed – you should get to the vet ASAP.

How is Asthma Treated in Dogs?

If the asthma attack is very severe then your dog might need emergency treatment, including oxygen

Long-term, the vet will recommend the best treatment options for your dog, which might include:

  • A bronchodilator (to open the airways) 
  • Steroids (to reduce inflammation) 
  • Antihistamines (to reduce allergic responses). 
  • In some cases, you will be given a nebulizer, which delivers vaporized medication. 

It might be strange for your dog at first, but it’s a good option for fast emergency treatment in case of future asthma attacks.

One of the best ways of managing an allergy is through prevention. Discuss the options for allergy testing with your vet – if you can identify the allergen then avoidance becomes far easier.

If your dog is allergic to seasonal allergens like pollen or grass, wipe down your dog’s coat to remove pollen or grass seeds after a walk (avoiding days or places where the pollen count is high). 

If your dog is allergic to some of the chemicals in household products, stop using highly perfumed home products, switching to fragrance-free options.

If your dog is allergic to flea bites or dust mites, vacuum more frequently and ensure that they are consistently treated against parasites. Wash their bedding and choose mite-proof cases to prevent infestation. 

Further Reading

Sometimes an allergy can spring out of nowhere –read Can Dogs Suddenly Develop Allergies? Here are the key symptoms of allergies in dogs. On our blog you’ll find that we have covered allergies in detail, including seasonal allergies and how to identify a food allergy. If you suspect a food allergy, find out which foods to try avoiding