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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Condition Overview

Pneumonia is uncommon in healthy adult dogs. It tends to target the very young and the very old, and those whose immune systems have been compromised as a result of corticosteroid therapy, chemotherapy, or chronic illness.


Signs of pneumonia are cough, fever, depression, rapid breathing, rapid pulse, and occasionally, a nasal discharge that is thick with mucus. The cough is moist and bubbling, indicating fluid in the lungs. Dogs with severe pneumonia frequently sit with their head extended and elbows turned out to allow for greater expansion of the chest.


Pneumonia can be caused by viruses, bacteria, fungi, or parasites. Bacterial and viral pneumonia are often preceded by an infection in the nasopharynx or airways.

Dogs with chronic bronchitis, collapsing trachea, or foreign bodies in the lower airway frequently develop bacterial pneumonia.

Inhalation or aspiration pneumonia occurs with megaesophagus, gastroesophageal reflux, paralysis of the swallowing mechanizm, and reflux of gastric contents into the lungs during general anesthesia or vomiting. Chemical pneumonia is baused by inhaling smoke or ingesting hydrocarbons such as gasoline or kerosene.


The diagnosis is made by chest X-ray and blood tests. Bacterial culture and sensitivity tests aid in selecting the most effective antibiotic.


Dogs with fever and signs of respiratory infection should receive urgent veterinary care. Take the dog to the hospital immediately, DO NOT give cough suppressants. Coughing is beneficial because it clears the airway and facilitates breathing.

Bacterial infection responds well to antibiotics selected specifically for the bacteria causing the disease. Your veterinarian will select the most appropriate drug. The antibiotic should be continued for at least 3 weeks, or until the follow-up chest X-rays show clearing.

Any predisposing causes, such as gastroesophageal reflux or a bronchial foreign body, should be treated to prevent recurrence.


There is no prevention for this condition.


Please contact your veterinarian if you have questions regarding this condition.

Show Sources & Contributors +


Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook

Publisher: Wiley Publishing, 2007

Website: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/

Authors: Debra M. Eldredge, Liisa D. Carlson, Delbert G. Carlson, James M. Giffen MD

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