Bronchitis--an inflammation of one or more of the small airways in the lungs, or bronchi--is not usually life threatening, but it is unpleasant for a dog suffering its effects. Characterised by an uncontrollable cough, bronchitis can be either acute (short-lived, sometimes caused by an infection) or chronic (continuous, possibly even lifelong). When not the result of a bacterial or viral infection, the cause of bronchitis can be mysterious and is not widely understood. The treatment for bronchitis in dogs is not much different from that for humans. Home remedies rarely help, so your dog must receive treatment from a veterinarian.
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Have a veterinarian diagnose the problem. He will likely do this by taking a culture from your dog's throat or perhaps from the airways, which may require the use of a bronchoscope (a flexible apparatus equipped with a camera, suction catheter and manipulating tools that passes from the patient's mouth into the lungs). Chest X-rays help to confirm a diagnosis.
Begin your pet on corticosteroid therapy, the most common treatment for bronchitis, according to your vet's orders. Airborne particles that irritate your dog's airways may cause bronchitis; steroid therapy will reduce inflammation and help to sooth the cough.
Start your dog on antibiotic therapy if directed by the vet to do so. The culture will show if there is a bacterial infection. Such infections rarely cause bronchitis, and the vet will likely only prescribe antibiotics if large colonies of a single specific organism are present in the culture.
Administer bronchodilators if indicated by your veterinarian. Bronchodilators relax the smooth, involuntary muscles surrounding airways, making constricted airways open wider and easing breathing.
Give your dog a cough suppressant, if prescribed, which is usually very effective at bringing relief, though it only treat the symptoms. Some cough suppressants contain codeine, an opiate derivative, which will make your dog drowsy. An overdose can be fatal.
Try to keep your dog away from dust (such as flea powder), smoke (tobacco or fire) and aerosol sprays. A warm, dry environment usually soothes conditions such as bronchitis. Also try to keep your dog out of very cold air.
Tips and warnings
- Do not give any prescription medications to your pets without the written orders of a veterinarian. Never take medications intended for pets yourself, and keep all medications out of the reach of children.
- Prolonged use of steroids can cause life-threatening damage to the liver and kidneys, though this is rare.
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