In the Age of COVID-19, You Can Protect Your Dog from Pneumonia

14 September, 2020

In the Age of COVID-19, You Can Protect Your Dog from Pneumonia


Canine pneumonia can be life-threatening. However, with the right care and early treatment you can keep your pet safe from developing COVID-19 and pneumonia. Learn the causes, symptoms and treatment of this disease as well as tips to keep your furry buddy happy and healthy.

In July, a 7-year-old German Shepard named Buddy died after testing positive for COVID-19 three months earlier. Due to the risk of people infecting animals with the virus, the CDC recommends pet owners keep dogs inside as much as possible and limit their interactions with other animals and people. COVID-19 can cause respiratory distress and lead to pneumonia in severe cases. Learn more about keeping your pet safe from pneumonia.

What Is Pneumonia in Dogs?

Pneumonia is relatively rare in dogs, but it can afflict dogs at any age. When the lower airways become inflamed, your dog may have trouble breathing. Without treatment, this condition is life-threatening. Learn what to watch for and what to do if you notice symptoms of dog pneumonia. When in doubt, take your pet to the vet for a professional opinion.

Aspiration Pneumonia

Aspiration pneumonia is caused by inhaling contaminants into the lungs. The severity of this condition often depends on what material the dog breathed in. When your dog inhales harmful material, it distributes throughout the lungs.

Causes of aspirational pneumonia in dogs include giving your dog liquid medicine without proper instruction. Animals may try to eat or drink something while choking which can leave them vulnerable to this type of pneumonia. Anaesthetized or comatose dogs may also develop aspiration pneumonia.

Certain deformities such as a cleft palate or problems with the esophagus or pharynx can also leave your dog at a higher risk for this type of pneumonia. some of these causes are beyond your control such as birth defects. However, if you pay close attention to what your dog eats and drinks, you may be able to prevent them from developing this type of pneumonia.

“Aspiration pneumonia is a life-threatening condition and may require several days or more in an intensive care setting...If the animal is in respiratory distress, oxygen is given."

— according to Dr. Karen Becker, a veterinarian

Fungal Pneumonia

Sometimes fungi occur in a dog when they have a compromised immune system. However, harmful fungi can also cause your healthy dog to develop aspiration pneumonia. Your dog can also become infected through inhaling spores that spread throughout the lymph system. However, the typical fungal infection in dogs probably relates to soil rather than another animal.

It is hard to prevent your dog from digging and rolling in soil. If your pet shows symptoms of dog pneumonia after playing at the park or an unfamiliar area, make an appointment with your vet right away.

Symptoms of Dog Pneumonia

Respiratory signs often point the finger at pneumonia in dogs. However, other symptoms may also occur that are not directly related to your dog’s respiratory tract.
Look for the following symptoms say your dog may have some form of canine pneumonia:

  • Coughing
  • Blueish gum color
  • Decreased appetite
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Exercise intolerance, tires easily
  • Extending neck with mouth open
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss

If your dog has a bad cough, it may go away on its own within a few days. If your dog is coughing steadily for longer than three days, it's time to seek the opinion of your veterinarian. Since the consequences of pneumonia left untreated can threaten your dog’s health and wellness, it's important to recognize these signs or to take your dog for care if you aren't sure what's going on.

Causes of Pneumonia in Dogs

Some of the causes of pneumonia in dogs are outlined under aspiration and fungal pneumonia. Typically, bacterial and viral ammonia develop after your dog inhales harmful materials. Your dog can also get pneumonia after inhaling medicine or food into his lungs. Take great care when giving your dog medicine.
If you feel uncomfortable giving your dog the medicine, make an appointment so that the vet can show you how to do it and make sure that you are administering the medicine correctly.

Treating Dog Pneumonia

Nebulization involves using a nebulizer to administer antibiotics through a mist. Your vet may suggest using a nebulizer to treat your dog’s pneumonia.
Other substances such as medicines can be put in a nebulizer to help clear your pet’s airways. Small droplets formed by the nebulizer enter your dog’s lungs to help relax the respiratory pathways and soothe your dog sore throat. Sometimes, these droplets deliver antibiotics directly to the lungs. This can provide fast relief for your dog. Consult with your veterinarian prior to using a nebulizer.
Physical treatment includes a technique called coupage. You or your vet can cup your hands, gently tapping against the animal’s chest to loosen some of the mucus and clear the airway. This can help alleviate coughing and should follow each nebulizer treatment.

Preventing Pneumonia in Dogs

You want the best for your pet and would like to prevent them from ever getting sick. The truth is, though, you don't always have control over everything that your pet does. The best way that you can prevent pneumonia in dogs is keeping your home environment free of dust, chemicals and irritants that can harm your dog’s lungs. If possible, keep your dog away from any areas that have chemical fumes when you go outside.

If your dog shows a sign of a bronchial infection (wet cough), take them to the vet right away as this is often a precursor for pneumonia. Kennel cough is another common cause of canine pneumonia. You can get a preventive vaccine that safeguards your dog against kennel cough and canine pneumonia. Ask your vet about this vaccine and discuss whether it would be a good idea for your pet to receive it.

Getting your dog vaccinations, healthy food and plenty of exercise can help ensure that they develop a healthy immune system. if possible, watch your dog closely when they are in contact with other people and pets. Often, keeping them out of suspicious areas limits their risk of developing this serious condition.

Ways to Keep Your Dog Healthy

Investing in healthy product can keep your pet engaged and safe. Most importantly, develop a bond with your pet to better recognize their moods so that you can discern when they are under the weather. The sooner your pet receives treatment for pneumonia, the faster they can begin to feel like themselves again.