Dog Care: Bacterial Pneumonia

Bacterial pneumonia is a serious respiratory condition that is triggered by a bacterial infection. The lining of your dog's lungs becomes inflamed, and if not treated promptly the condition can be fatal, as fluid can build up in the lungs and impair their functioning. Any dog can develop bacterial pneumonia, but larger breeds seem to be at an increased risk of this condition than smaller breeds. Your vet may not be able to identify a specific cause when your dog develops bacterial pneumonia, but anything that can enable harmful bacteria to enter the respiratory system, such as a preceding virus or illness that affects swallowing, can increase your dog's chances of developing this condition.

Symptoms Of Bacterial Pneumonia

Dogs with bacterial pneumonia tend to develop a cough and may have nasal discharge. Wheezing, difficulty breathing and lethargy are also common symptoms of this condition. These symptoms can cause loss of appetite, which can quickly lead to dehydration and irritability. Any signs of respiratory distress should be investigated by a vet right away, so don't be tempted to take a wait-and-see approach.

Diagnosing And Treating Bacterial Pneumonia

Bacterial pneumonia can be diagnosed with a respiratory exam and a couple of simple diagnostic procedures. Your vet will use a stethoscope to listen for wheezing or crackling and they will analyse a sample of your dog's nasal discharge to determine the strain of bacteria present. A chest X-ray may also be required to establish the extent of inflammation in the lungs.

As bacterial pneumonia can be fatal, dogs with this condition tend to receive treatment as an inpatient. Oxygen may initially be required to support your dog's lung function. Antibiotics will be prescribed and your dog may also be given anti-inflammatories to quickly reduce the swelling in their lungs. If your dog is dehydrated, they will be given intravenous fluids. If your dog's symptoms are severe, they may also benefit from physiotherapy to strengthen their lungs after their course of antibiotics.

Recovery can be taxing for some dogs, so provide your dog with a quiet environment to recover in when you take them home and ask your vet for guidance regarding their exercise regime during recovery. Your vet may want to repeat your dog's chest X-ray after treatment to ensure their lungs are healing as expected. If you have any concerns about your dog's respiratory health during or after treatment you should speak with your vet right away.

As is the case with many health problems, bacterial pneumonia is easier to treat when it's diagnosed early. So, to give your dog the best chance of making a full recovery, have them examined at the first sign of a respiratory problem.

Reach out to a local vet for more information.