Overview: Asthma Symptoms in Dogs
A dog with asthma will be symptom-free much of the time. When your dog
does have symptoms or has an asthma attack, the primary symptom is
generally coughing. Your dog may also make a wheezing sound and seem
unable to "catch his breath." He may seem to be gasping for air.
Diagnosis of Asthma in Canines
It can be a bit tricky to diagnose asthma in a dog or dog asthma attack. The range of diseases that need to be ruled out include Kennel cough, infection, collapsing trachea, laryneal paralysis, heart disease, heartworms, lungworms, fungal diseases and lung tumors. Your vet will first do a complete physical exam followed by a chest x-ray and brochoscopy (taking a tissue sample to examine under microscope) to rule out any other respiratory problems. If your vet doesn't find any other cause for your dog's symptoms, he or she will probably prescribe asthma medications and wait to see if those help. If they do, then if can be concluded that the diagnosis of asthma is correct.
Dog Asthma Treatment
Treatment for an asthma sufferer generally consists of antihistamines, steroids, bronchodilators, or a combination of these drugs. Antihistamines help by drying up excessive fluid and mucous in the lungs and bronchi. Steroids work by controlling the inflammation of the lungs. Bronchodilators are used to reverse the swelling of the bronchi. Your vet will work with you to determine the best treatment regimen for your dog.
Some of these medications are taken orally, while others are inhaled. If your dog needs to use inhalation medication, your vet will teach you how to administer it. You will be given a face mask to put over your pet's mouth and nose, and it will connect to a short tube (called a spacer) into which you will squeeze a short puff of the medication. Your dog will need to breathe the medication for seven to ten seconds. Some amount of experimentation is needed to determine the right drug or combination of drugs.
During a severe attack, an injection of epinephrine may need to be given. This will immediately reduce the swelling of the respiratory passages. If your dog has severe asthma attacks, your vet will show you how to administer the injections in case they are needed.
Homeopathic (Non-Prescription) Supplements
Herbal and homeopathic asthma treatment can be effective in addition to or as an alternative to prescription medications depending on the severity of the asthma. Natural remedies such as AmazaPet are gently effective without the side effects or other complications that often accompany conventional drugs.
With proper treatment, a canine asthma sufferer can lead a normal, happy life.
Acute Respiratory Distress
Rebecca Kirby, DVM
Respiratory Drugs Used in Clinical Practice
Padrid, Philip DVM