5 Ways To Manage Respiratory Infection In Dogs
Canine infectious respiratory disease complex (CIRDC) is better known as kennel cough. It’s common among dogs, and for the most part, it’s generally mild with a persistent dry cough and seldom becomes a serious respiratory infection in dogs.
However, since summer 2022, a more serious respiratory infection has infected dogs with pneumonia-like symptoms. And unlike kennel cough, which generally presents symptoms a week after exposure and runs its course within 2 weeks, a dog with this more serious infection may not develop symptoms for 1 to 3 weeks … and it escalates rapidly into pneumonia.
This disease appears to be concentrated in New Hampshire and northern Massachusetts. One clinic noted cases in August 2022, and another clinic had 10 to 15 less-severe cases and about five severe cases. Serious cases appeared to be kennel cough but quickly turned to pneumonia with some deaths reported.
Dogs received overnight care, were put on oxygen, nebulizers and medicated … but some were non-responsive to medication. Dogs tested have been negative for bordetella, influenza and coronavirus. A cause for this illness hasn’t been determined.
Like kennel cough, this infection spreads through dogs in close contact at day care, shelters, kennels, groomers and dog parks where they share toys. But some cases reported no dog-to-dog contact.
The information on this new infection is limited, but we can look more closely at upper respiratory infections in dogs that share the same symptoms and have successful treatment options.
Upper Respiratory Infection In Dogs
An upper respiratory infection in dogs is any condition that affects the lungs, airways, and nasal passages.
Symptoms of Respiratory Infection In Dogs
Symptoms of a respiratory infection in dogs can vary depending on the infection and the underlying cause. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Coughing: A dry or moist cough is common. It may be persistent and can worsen with exercise or excitement.
- Sneezing: Frequent sneezing, often accompanied by nasal discharge.
- Difficulty breathing: Labored breathing or shortness of breath, including rapid or shallow breathing, can be a sign of a serious respiratory infection.
- Nasal discharge: A runny nose or discharge from the nostrils can be a sign of an infection in the upper respiratory tract.
- Fever: A high body temperature (above 101.5°F or 38.6°C) can indicate the presence of an infection.
- Loss of appetite: Can cause a decrease in appetite, leading to weight loss and malnutrition.
- Lethargy: Can become lethargic, weak, and less active than usual.
- Eye discharge: Some respiratory infections can cause discharge from the eyes, such as conjunctivitis.
RELATED: Natural cough medicine alternatives for dogs …
5 Natural Remedies For Respiratory Infection In Dogs
Here are some natural remedies that may help ease respiratory infections in dogs:
- Steam therapy: A steamy shower running can help clear the airways and ease congestion. They don’t need to be in the shower, just allow them to breathe the steam.
- Manuka honey has natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe a sore throat and cough. Mix a small amount of honey into your dog’s food or offer it on a spoon.
- Echinacea: This herb can help boost the immune system and reduce inflammation. It can be given in the form of a tincture or supplement.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C can help support the immune system and reduce inflammation. You can feed foods rich in vitamin C such as strawberries and bell peppers, or give a vitamin C supplement, preferably naturally-sourced, not lab-made like ascorbic acid.
- Fluids: It’s important to keep your dog hydrated, especially if he has a fever or isn’t eating as much as usual. You can also feed a low-sodium broth or homemade bone broth.
RELATED: Natural antibiotic remedies may help …
Causes Of Respiratory Infection In Dogs
Respiratory infections in dogs can be caused by viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites. Some of the most common causes of respiratory infections in dogs include:
- Canine flu: A highly contagious virus causes respiratory symptoms similar to those of human flu.
- Kennel cough: Respiratory infections caused by a combination of bacteria and viruses that is highly contagious in crowded conditions such as boarding kennels, dog shows or shelters.
- Pneumonia: An infection of the lungs caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi.
- Canine distemper virus: Viral infection causing respiratory symptoms as well as neurological symptoms, and can be fatal.
- Bordetella bronchiseptica: A bacterium that is one of the causes of kennel cough.
- Fungal infections: Blastomycosis, histoplasmosis, and aspergillosis can infect the respiratory tract of dogs.
- Parasites: Lungworms or heartworms can also infect the respiratory system of dogs.
Dogs who are stressed, live in overcrowded conditions, have poor nutrition, weakened immune systems, and are exposed to infected animals or environments are at greater risk for an infection.
RELATED: Does your dog need the kennel cough vaccine?
Is There A Difference Between Kennel Cough and Upper Respiratory Infection In Dogs?
Yes, there is. These are two different conditions but they can have similar symptoms.
Kennel cough, also known as infectious tracheobronchitis, is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a variety of viruses and bacteria. It’s often spread through contact with infected dogs. The main symptom of kennel cough is a persistent dry cough, often accompanied by retching or gagging, that can last for several weeks. Other symptoms may include nasal discharge, sneezing and fever.
Upper respiratory infection (URI) is a general term used to describe infections that affect the nose, throat and/or sinuses. URIs in dogs can be caused by viruses or bacteria, and may result in symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, and fever. URIs can also cause secondary infections, such as pneumonia.
While kennel cough is a specific type of respiratory infection, URIs can have a variety of underlying causes and may not always be related to contact with other dogs in a kennel or shelter environment.
Here are 2 other types of respiratory infections in dogs.
Canine Chronic Bronchitis
Canine chronic bronchitis is an infection of the lower respiratory tract involving chronic inflammation and irritation of the airways. It’s also known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or chronic bronchitis complex.
This is believed to be related to long-term exposure to irritants like cigarette smoke, dust and pollution. It’s more common in certain breeds, such as small breeds and brachycephalic (flat-faced) breeds.
Symptoms can include coughing, wheezing, exercise intolerance, difficulty breathing, lethargy, decreased appetite, and weight loss. It can also lead to secondary infections, such as pneumonia because of inflammation and damage to the airways.
Eosinophilic bronchopneumopathy (EBP) is characterized by inflammation and increased numbers of eosinophils (a type of white blood cell) in the airways and lungs. It’s thought to be related to an immune system response to inhaled irritants, allergens or parasites. EBP is more common in young to middle-aged dogs and certain breeds like German Shepherds and Rottweilers.
Symptoms are similar to respiratory infections and canine chronic bronchitis. EBP can also lead to secondary infections, such as pneumonia, due to inflammation and damage to the airways.
Conventional care involves “anti” medications (such as antibiotics or antifungals), along with hydration and nutrition, and in severe cases, hospitalization. But to give your dog the best chance of fighting a respiratory infection, your dog needs a healthy immune system … and that starts with a fresh whole food diet.
RELATED: Immune system boosters for dogs …