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Common Illness in Dogs: Asthma

05/02/2018 by Colleen Williams
May 2nd, 2018 by Colleen Williams

Another human condition that is also present in dogs, asthma is relatively common among canines. With the proper management and treatment, pets suffering from both chronic and acute asthma can lead normal lives.


Asthma is usually caused by allergens in the dogs’ environment. Inhaling the substance activates an asthmatic attack. The following are all potential triggers:

  • Air fresheners and perfumes
  • Cleaning chemicals and sprays
  • Cigarette or fireplace smoke
  • Air pollution
  • Aerosol sprays
  • Animal dander
  • Airborne pollen
  • Mold spores
  • Pesticides and fertilizer
  • Cat litter particles

Smaller and older dogs are more susceptible to having asthma, which is also known as allergic bronchitis.


The signs of an asthma attack are fairly obvious; your dog will appear short of breath and wheeze or cough. Harsh panting or breathing open-mouthed when in contact with triggers is also common. During severe attacks, your dog’s gums may appear blue – this is serious and a sign of oxygen deprivation. General signs of asthma include exercise intolerance, lethargy, lack of appetite, and weight loss.

Diagnosis and Treatment

A detailed medical history will be taken by your vet, including when symptoms began and progressed. A physical examination is next, followed by chest x-rays to rule out injury or infection. Stool and blood tests may also be performed to exclude parasites and heartworms.

You may be asked to keep an allergy diary, documenting your dog’s symptoms and everything they came into contact with that day. Removing all potential allergens and then gradually reintroducing them can help to determine the cause of attacks. Medications and canine inhalers can help reduce the severity of attacks as well.


Removing any potential allergens from your dog’s environment is essential to managing asthma. Your vet can recommend strategies for eliminating natural allergens like mold, pollen, and dander from your house. Regular veterinary appointments are also necessary to determine if treatment methods are successful.

Canine asthma is a fairly common condition among dogs. Proper management of the illness is extremely important in order to improve your dog’s quality of life. Medications and inhalers coupled with regular vet appointments can reduce the frequency of asthma attacks. If your dog suffers from a severe asthma attack and their gums turn blue or they faint, seek emergency care. Brain damage and death can result if your pet’s airway is closed for more than a few seconds.

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