Pet Respiratory Infection Symptoms and Treatment

Information to help cats and dogs with symptoms of respiratory illness and colds.

Select a Topic

  1. What is Respiratory Infection?
  2. What Causes Respiratory Infections in Cats and Dogs?
  3. Diagnosing Respiratory Infection
  4. Help for Respiratory Infection

What is Respiratory Infection?

A respiratory infection affects the nose, throat and upper airways. This condition impacts pets the same way as humans suffering from colds and flu. Upper respiratory tract infections are more common in cats, but dogs get them as well.

There are various types of respiratory illness in cats, including feline rhinotracheitis, feline calicivirus and chlamydia. The most common in dogs is kennel cough.

Respiratory infections in cats and dogs are contagious and spread quickly through direct contact with a sick dog or cat.

This condition may develop suddenly, occur from time to time, or be a persistent infection. If left untreated, secondary bacterial infections can develop due to the weakened immune system. These are most common in young or senior pets, or those that are stressed and have suppressed immune systems.

Symptoms and signs in cats and dogs vary based on the cause of the infection. Typically, pets experience something similar to how humans feel when we have a cold.

If you notice any of these symptoms in your pet, contact your vet for a diagnosis and appropriate treatment:

  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Sneezing
  • Fever
  • Nasal discharge
  • Eye discharge
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Gagging
  • Dry nose
  • Itchy nose
  • Drooling or foaming at the mouth
  • Dehydration
  • Mouth or nose ulcers
  • Exercise intolerance

What Causes Respiratory Infection?

Respiratory infections in pets are caused by harmful organisms such as viruses, bacteria or fungi. A weakened immune system, irritation from pollution or chemicals, and other underlying diseases may also make pets more susceptible.

Diagnosing a Respiratory Infection

Your vet will ask you about your pet’s clinical signs and symptoms.

Through a physical examination and diagnostic testing, they can determine the cause of the illness.

Help for Respiratory Infection

Your vet will consider many factors when deciding the best course of treatment. They will likely prescribe antibiotics to fight secondary bacterial infections and a decongestant to relieve congestion. Doxycycline is an antibiotic often used for pets as well as humans. 

Since antibiotic drugs can weaken the immune system, your pet is more susceptible to recurring disease while taking them. Veterinarians may also suggest nose drops, plenty of water and rest to support dogs as they recuperate.

In severe cases, treatment with intravenous fluids and nutritional supplements may be necessary to help your cat or dog feel better. Your pet should receive the recommended vaccinations against viruses and bacteria to boost immunity.

Natural Remedies

For homeopathic support for the respiratory system, try Respo-K™ Tablets for Pet Respiratory & Cold Symptoms. This homeopathic medicine relieves and helps prevent colds and flu in pets.

For dogs fighting kennel cough, try KC-Defense Granules for Kennel Cough Symptoms. This homeopathic medicine helps relieve symptoms of acute kennel cough and strengthens the immune system.

Tips to prevent respiratory infections in pets

There are many things you can do to boost the immune function of your pet:

  • Feed your pet a high quality, natural diet that is free of additives, preservatives and artificial color.
  • Incorporate more raw foods such as raw vegetables and raw meat to your pet’s diet.
  • Have plenty of clean, fresh water available.
  • Ensure that your pet has regular exercise.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect food bowls and water bowls, as well as sleeping areas.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling pets, cleaning their sleeping facilities and being exposed to animal body fluids.
  • Avoid giving your pet any products containing sugar or milk.
  • Keep your pet up to date on vaccines recommended by your vet before visiting kennels, dog parks or pet shows. Even when a vaccine doesn’t fully prevent a disease, it can help lessen the severity in some cases.
  • Spend quality time with your pet to reduce stress.
  • Keep your cat indoors to minimize exposure to bacteria and viruses.
  • Bringing your pet in for regular preventive care helps your veterinarian catch problems early.
The content provided is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you have a health condition, please consult a medical professional and do not use this information to self-diagnose or self-treat.


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