Asthma in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

asthma in dogs

If you’ve ever witnessed your dog wheezing or struggling to breathe, you know the fear it can instill. Asthma in dogs is a pressing concern, often overlooked by many pet owners.

In this article, we’ll help you understand dog asthma and ensure your furry friend lives a happy, healthy life. As we unravel the causes, symptoms, and treatments of this condition, you’ll gain the knowledge to better care for your pet.

Can Dogs Have Asthma?

Yes, dogs can experience asthma attacks. These episodes involve the constriction of the dog’s breathing passages, leading to distress and discomfort.

Understanding Dog Asthma: What Is It?

Asthma, in essence, is an inflammation of the airways, triggered by various allergens or irritants. When these airways narrow, it restricts the flow of air, causing symptoms like wheezing and coughing.

While allergies in dogs often result in skin reactions, asthma directly affects their respiratory system. It’s essential to differentiate asthma from other respiratory conditions to ensure appropriate treatment.

Primary Causes of Asthma in Dogs

Dogs, just like humans, can be susceptible to various irritants and triggers in their environment. Understanding these triggers can significantly improve how we care for our furry friends.

Environmental Factors

The world around your dog can sometimes be a source of discomfort. Common irritants such as pollen, household dust, smoke, and even certain strong perfumes can cause an allergic reaction and trigger asthma attacks in dogs. Ensuring that your home environment is clean and free from these triggers can be a good first step towards managing your dog’s asthma.

Medical and Physical Factors

Certain health conditions and physical attributes can predispose your dog to asthma. Respiratory infections can inflame the airways, making them more susceptible to asthma attacks. Similarly, obesity can place additional pressure on a dog’s respiratory system.

Heartworm disease, caused by mosquito bites, is another critical concern. These worms live in the lungs and heart, causing severe lung disease and, in turn, respiratory distress.

Genetic Predispositions

While any dog can develop asthma, some breeds might be more prone due to their genetic makeup. For instance, smaller breeds with flatter faces, such as Bulldogs and Shih Tzus, often have more respiratory issues. However, this doesn’t mean larger breeds are immune. Regular check-ups can help identify early signs, ensuring timely intervention.

Recognizing Dog Asthma Symptoms

Awareness is a critical weapon in any battle, and the fight against dog asthma is no different. Recognizing the signs early can make a massive difference in managing this condition.

  • Wheezing and Coughing: One of the most apparent dog asthma symptoms is wheezing. It’s a high-pitched whistling sound that arises when your dog exhales. Coughing, especially a dry, hacking cough, can also indicate an inflamed or constricted airway, a hallmark of asthma.
  • Changes in Coloration: Ever noticed your dog’s gums or tongue turning a bluish hue? This could be a sign of cyanosis, a condition where there’s insufficient oxygen in the blood. It’s a severe symptom that indicates your dog is struggling to breathe and needs immediate attention.
  • Altered Breathing Patterns: Pay attention to your dog’s breathing. Rapid or shallow breathing, flaring nostrils, or an increased heart rate can all hint at respiratory distress. Additionally, if your usually active dog suddenly shows fatigue or a reluctance to exercise, it could be due to the reduced oxygen intake from asthma.

Diagnosing Dog Asthma

Suspecting your dog might have asthma is the first step, but confirming that diagnosis is crucial to ensure they receive the right treatment. Here’s how vets typically diagnose asthma in dogs:

  • Physical Examinations and History: Your vet will start by getting a comprehensive history, including any exposure to potential allergens or triggers. They’ll also look for signs of respiratory distress, listen to your dog’s lungs, and check for other physical indicators.
  • Chest X-rays: Imaging can provide a clear view of the state of your dog’s lungs. An X-ray might show any obstructions or inflammation indicative of asthma.
  • Lung Function Tests: While not as common, some vets might use specific tests to assess how well your dog’s lungs are working. These tests can measure the volume and speed of air as your dog breathes.
  • Blood Tests and Heartworm Examinations: A comprehensive blood test can show signs of inflammation or infection, both of which might contribute to respiratory symptoms. Vets will also check for heartworms, as these parasites can cause symptoms similar to asthma.

Comprehensive Dog Asthma Treatment Options

Once diagnosed with asthma, the primary goal is to alleviate symptoms and prevent your dog’s asthma attacks. You’ll notice dog asthma medications are very similar to many human medications. Let’s dive into the various treatments available:


  • Bronchodilators: These are often the first line of treatment and help open up the airways, allowing your dog to breathe more comfortably.
  • Steroids: Used to reduce inflammation in the lungs, they can be administered orally or via inhalers. However, prolonged use can have side effects.
  • Antihistamines: Especially useful if allergens trigger your dog’s asthma symptoms. They help reduce allergic reactions, preventing asthma flare-ups.

Nebulization and Coupage

This process involves administering medication in a mist form via a nebulizer. Coupage is a technique where the chest is gently tapped to loosen mucus, which can be especially useful in dogs with mucus buildup.

Oxygen Therapy

For dogs having a severe asthma attack, oxygen therapy might be needed. This ensures they get the required oxygen, helping stabilize their condition.

Managing Asthma Triggers at Home

Beyond medical treatments, managing your dog’s environment is crucial. Ensure your home is free from excessive dust, smoke, and strong perfumes. Regular cleaning, using air purifiers, and keeping windows closed during high pollen counts can also help.

Natural Remedies and Supplements

While conventional medications play a crucial role in managing dog asthma, many pet owners are also curious about natural alternatives. It’s essential, however, to approach these with caution and always under veterinary guidance.

Natural remedies can sometimes offer relief without the side effects that some medications might bring. They can be a supplementary solution, working hand-in-hand with prescribed treatments.

  • Essential Oils: Eucalyptus and lavender have been cited to aid respiratory health. However, it’s vital to ensure any oil used is pet-safe and used in moderation.
  • Herbs: Licorice root and mullein have properties that may soothe the respiratory tract. Always consult your vet before introducing any herbs to your pet’s regimen.
  • Supplements: Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oils, might help reduce inflammation in the lungs.


Taking a step back, understanding dog asthma and its manifestations can be a daunting task for many pet owners. It’s a condition marked by various symptoms that can range from mild to severe, but with proper knowledge and care, managing it becomes feasible. Remember, early detection, timely intervention, and regular check-ups are pivotal to ensuring your furry friend’s optimal health.

For those dedicated to ensuring their pet’s well-being, Bando is here to help. We believe in providing the best care products and supplements, curated with love and expertise. Explore our catalog for all your pet’s needs and don’t hesitate to reach out to our team for assistance. Your pet’s health and happiness are our top priorities.

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