Dog asthma occurs less frequently than asthma in humans but it is still a serious condition and it can be of great concern to dog owners. Dogs can be allergic to many of the same substances as humans, such as foods, dust, pollution, and pollen.
Dogs will cough when they are having an asthma attack, plus they may make a wheezing-type noise or gasp for air. With dogs, however, there are several other conditions and diseases which may first appear with the same symptoms. You will need to get an accurate diagnosis from your vet. You dog could also have kennel cough, lung or heartworms, lung tumors, infection, or a collapsing trachea, among other complaints.
If your dog does not have any of these other problems, your vet will try giving him or her some asthma medications to see if they resolve the problem. Just like with people, these meds include a variety of antihistamines, bronchodilators, steroids and combinations. The goal of these medicines is to relieve swelling in the lungs and bronchi and to dry up the mucus.
Some asthma meds are oral but other times your dog may have to inhale a medication. This is a bit trickier, particularly if your dog is nervous around new objects. Your dog will have to have a face mask which will cover the nose and mouth. A tube attaches and you squeeze a puff of the medicine into it. Your dog has to breathe in the medication in a few seconds.
It may take a few attempts to get the right combination of drugs to treat dog asthma. It may also take a number of tries at first to get your dog to accept the mask and breathe in the inhalant at the right time. If your dog has a severe allergic reaction and the meds are not helping, you might have to give an injection of epinephrine. This is the same drug used for respiratory distress in humans.
Dog asthma which is caused by allergies is often treated with antihistamines. When taking the medication, your dog will not be as likely to have an asthma attack, and if he or she should have one, the attack should not be as severe. Antihistamines are used most of the time for asthma when it is related to allergies. People often think that a dog allergy only means that humans are allergic to dogs, but dogs can have allergies to certain substances too.
Bronchodilators are the kinds of medications which are used in inhalers. These work quickly to get rid of constriction of your dog’s airway, along with an inflammation or spasms which are occurring. These are the meds given through the mask so your dog may not be happy about breathing them into his or her respiratory system. The best way to approach the situation is to try and make it seem like fun–act like it is a game you are playing. Many dogs want nothing more than to please you, whatever the game.
Treatments with oxygen are also given to dogs suffering from dog asthma. These are most often done at the vet’s office. In a severe attack of asthma, your dog might not get enough oxygen or he or she might become very afraid of what is happening, which can cause the heart rate to go higher. In these types of cases, oxygen may be given to your dog. It will help the dog’s breathing to improve which will also lower the stress level.
Dog asthma is a very manageable condition just like asthma in people. You just need to learn to recognize the signs of an asthma attack and what to do when it happens. Many times medications can prevent asthma attacks entirely, while other meds can successfully treat the attacks themselves.