Types of Canine Respiratory Diseases

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Tess Thompson

The respiratory system of dogs is almost similar to humans and comprises of openings in the nose, the sinuses, the larynx (air passages), the trachea (wind pipe), the bronchi and the lungs. As such, any ailment that affects these organs is termed as a respiratory disease. Canine respiratory diseases may be caused by infections, parasites, cancer, trauma or infections.

  • Aspiration Pneumonia is an inflammation of the lungs that is caused by inhaling or choking on vomit. Orphan puppies fed on milk through a tube usually develop this condition due to overfeeding or wrong placement of the tube into the trachea.
  • Canine Flu, previously seen only in horses, was first identified in greyhounds in 2004. Caused by canine influenza virus, it involves significant respiratory problems.
  • Collapsed Trachea is a condition in which the trachea loses its rigidity due to a weakening of the rings of the cartilage supporting it. Often seen in toy breeds, it causes difficulty in breathing.
  • Dog Cough results from irritation of the respiratory system. The type of cough indicates the underlying condition behind cough. A hacking, honking brassy cough indicates diseases associated with trachea or bronchi such as tracheobronchitis or kennel cough. Dogs with any type of cough should be taken to a veterinarian for evaluation.
  • Laryngeal Paralysis is a disorder of nerves that control muscles and cartilage involved in the opening and closing the larynx. The condition causes a change in sound along with a difficulty in eating or breathing.
  • Pneumothorax is best described as air within the chest cavity, a vacuum area that allows easy expansion of lungs during inhalation.
  • Pneumonitis is inflammation of the lungs caused by a virus or an allergic reaction.
  • Pneumonia is a respiratory disease marked by inflammation of the lungs characterized by congestion. It is caused by viruses, bacteria or irritants.
  • Reverse Sneezing is a harmless condition caused by irritation of the soft palate. The dog sounds as if he is rapidly pulling air into his nose instead of passing it out.
  • Rhinitis is inflammation of the mucous membrane lining of the nose caused by virus, bacteria or fungus. In the event sinuses are involved, the condition is known as sinusitis causing symptoms similar to common cold in humans.
  • Sneezing and Nasal Discharge may be caused by allergies, infections, foreign bodies or a nasal tumor.
  • Kennel Cough in Dogs is one of the most common respiratory diseases. It affects the throat and windpipe and is characterized by a dry honking cough without sneezing.

Besides these, Brachycephalic Syndrome is specific to certain breeds with a short skull and Tracheal Hypoplasia is a condition where a dog is born with a weak trachea.

The respiratory system of dogs serves a dual purpose. It not only functions as a part of the respiratory system of the body but is also a cooling system. This is because dogs do not have sweat glands. Even minor conditions like throat infection, cough or kennel cough in canines can potentially progress into high fever and serious conditions like pneumonia and should not be ignored.


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