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Bronchitis (chronic cough) in dogs

Bronchitis, or chronic cough, means a cough that has lasted for a long time and is due to a chronic inflammation in the lower respiratory tract. Here you can read more about symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of chronic cough in dogs.
Bronchitis (chronic cough) in dogs

What is chronic bronchitis?

Chronic bronchitis means a cough that occurred almost daily and lasted for a long time, at least 2 months. The cough caused by bronchitis is the most common reason why the disease is detected and is due to a chronic inflammation around the airways without a known cause. There is also an increased production of mucus that is coughed up which is easily missed because dogs swallow the mucus instead of spitting it out like people with bronchitis can do.

Why do dogs get chronic bronchitis?

Most likely, there are a number of different factors that work together when a dog develops bronchitis. Irritants and allergens such as tobacco smoke, cleaning agents, pollen, dust can play a role. Dogs with chronic bronchitis usually do well otherwise.

In advanced disease, exercise intolerance can be seen, and even collapse of the lower respiratory tract. Often it is older dogs of smaller breeds that are affected.

How bronchitis is diagnosed

As a dog owner, you have to answer questions about how long the cough has been going on, in which situations it appears, how it manifests itself, and more. Making the diagnosis of bronchitis involves ruling out other respiratory diseases that can cause similar symptoms. 

Your dog will be examined and the airways listened to. Blood samples can be taken to see any signs of infection, and stool samples can be taken to rule out parasites in the respiratory tract as a cause. X-rays are usually performed to assess how the airways look and to rule out other diagnoses such as tumours and pneumonia. Sometimes an ultrasound or a CT is also performed.

Your vet could also perform an ultrasound examination of the heart as an enlarged heart can press on the large airways and cause coughing

With bronchoscopy, which involves lowering a camera into the trachea, the condition of the airways can be assessed. In connection with that, a bronchial lavage is usually performed. This is when cell samples can be taken to detect any bacteria.

Treatment of dogs with chronic bronchitis

Chronic bronchitis is a disease that slowly worsens. Treatment consists of trying to reduce the course by suppressing the chronic inflammation and thus also the symptoms. Cortisone is usually used, in tablet form or via inhaler. There are also other medicines that can relieve the symptoms.

Weight loss can help

If a dog with chronic bronchitis is overweight, weight loss may be effective. Weight loss can make it easier for your dog to simply breathe, increase the oxygenation of the blood and improve blood circulation.

How should a dog with bronchitis be exercised?

A dog with bronchitis can be exercised with common sense but avoid anything too strenuous. Severe cold and high heat should also be avoided. It is always good for a dog to be in good shape.

You can use a harness instead of a collar, to avoid irritating the airways.

Vaccinate against kennel cough

If your dog has bronchitis, it may be good to keep the dog protected against kennel cough by vaccination. A dog with chronic respiratory problems is more susceptible to respiratory infections.

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