902.434.0700

Pneumonia in Our Pets

*Cough* *Cough*. We are all guilty of assuming our pets can get a little cold, most of the time this is a misconception. Coughing can mean many different things. One of the more concerning causes can be pneumonia. Pneumonia is inflammation of the lungs. There are many types of pneumonia, the two most common being bacterial and fungal. Dog and cat lungs are usually NOT very susceptible to primary bacterial pneumonia, but prior lung damage opens the possibility to secondary invasion by bacteria. In puppies and kittens, the canine distemper virus and certain kitty respiratory viruses can cause damage to the cells lining the respiratory tract, which makes the lungs more susceptible to bacterial infections and pneumonia. In the older pets with advanced chronic airway disease, pneumonia may become a recurring issue.

Aspiration pneumonia is another form which is caused when a dog or cat vomits and inhales it into their lungs. The contents are very acidic causing a chemical burn to the lung tissue, which may cause secondary bacterial infection as a result. The presence of food particles also complicates pneumonia. If a severe illness is present, physical weakness is an increased risk for aspiration pneumonia should the pet vomit. Also, vomiting after surgery is another high risk if the pet hasn’t fasted properly.

Signs of pneumonia typically include coughing, decreased appetite and difficulty breathing. Some pets may also have a fever. Lung sounds may be increased due to debris and fluid in the airways. The effort to breathe is an indication of the severity of pneumonia. Determining the cause of the pneumonia is necessary for the treatment process. Chest x-rays are required to diagnose pneumonia accurately. The pattern and location in the lungs also help identify the type. Doing bloodwork and urinalysis are very helpful in assessing how severe the inflammation is and also to detect any secondary infection that might have led to pneumonia. In some of the more severe cases, a scope may need to be done which is used to collect fluid and cells from the lungs helping us to give the proper antibiotics for treatment. Severe cases may also need to go on oxygen and IV fluids to help with the breathing and prevent dehydration.

Prognosis for pneumonia depends on the cause and severity of the infection. The pet must be able to oxygenate well for at least 2-3 days for the antibiotics to start working. Pneumonia without underlying infections is usually treated successfully. Aspiration pneumonia is a little trickier to treat because it depends on the ability to correct the cause of the vomiting and the severity of pneumonia.

Written by: Holly Murphy, Client Care Specialist

Category:
Dartmouth Vet Hospital took wonderful care of my first dog. Maggie had some behavioural issues, all the staff were amazing…

Jaime Aitken

My wife brought our puppy in this morning. We were extremely worried. They saw him very quickly, were kind, compassionate…

Dave Snow

We’ve been with Dartmouth vet a long time! My boy is super nervous but always has a good time here.…

Marcy Lecky-nickerson

Dr. O’Leary was absolutely amazing as was Amanda . Dr. O’Leary took care of any concerns and questions, explained what…

Nyssa G.

This is the most patient and caring staff I have ever encountered. I have been with them for almost 10…

Livia Peyton

Blog

The Risks of Being an Outdoor Cat

Cats are curious creatures who love to roam and explore. The outside world is full of birds to hunt, trees to climb and sun patches to roll in - so why doesn’t everyone let their cat go outside?

Read More
See All Articles