Natural Treatments for Dog Respiratory Issues
Wheezing, Coughing, Panting & Respiratory Infections
Dog breathing problems can be scary! Seeing your dog breathing heavily, gasping for air, wheezing or coughing is alarming, and often, quick action on the part of the pet owner is needed. Dogs with breathing difficulties can display different symptoms depending on the health issue. Some dog breathing problems are chronic, and some may come on suddenly. If you notice your dog having difficulty breathing, please contact your veterinarian or emergency center immediately, as some dog breathing problems can be life-threatening. When dealing with any type of dog breathing problem, home remedies and holistic care for dog respiratory issues (including diet changes and supplements) are helpful and can be used in conjunction with conventional veterinary treatment prescribed by your veterinarian.
There are different causes of dog coughing that produce different sounds. Dogs can have a dry, hacking cough, a wet, phlegmy-sounding cough or even a honking cough that sounds like a goose. When a dog coughs, it forces air out of the lungs at high pressure to clear out foreign particles, bacteria and allergens from the throat and respiratory tract. With dogs, it is important to pay attention to the sound and type of cough, how frequently it occurs and whether any blood or mucus is hacked up.
Dry, deep, hacking coughs are typical with kennel cough (Bordetella) and viral or bacterial infections. The cough will flare up when your pup gets excited or exercises. Kennel cough will usually resolve after a few weeks, similar to a human cold, but severe cases can progress into pneumonia.
Wet, moist, phlegmy coughs are often due to fluid or phlegm in the lungs and can result in a gargling sound with labored breathing. These deep-lung conditions are frequently diagnosed as pneumonia, canine influenza (dog flu) and chronic bronchitis. Pneumonia in dogs can be caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites or aspiration (inhaled vomit or other foreign material). It usually affects dogs with weakened immune systems, especially seniors and young puppies.
Deep, honking coughs are characteristic of a condition called collapsed trachea. It most commonly affects tiny toy-breed dogs but can also be found in larger-breed dogs. Dogs with collapsed trachea have a goose honk when they get excited or have pressure on their necks (from a collar or pulling on a leash). It can also happen after eating or drinking. Poor digestion and acid reflux can aggravate the collapsed trachea condition. While collapsed trachea is considered a structural health issue, strengthening the trachea and reducing inflammation can improve symptoms.
High-pitched gagging coughs that occur along with lip smacking and swallowing may be caused by an irritation or a blockage. This type of dog coughing could be from acid reflux irritating the lining of the esophagus, but more commonly it is your dog trying to expel an irritant. If something is stuck in your dog’s throat, you should see a veterinarian immediately.
Nighttime coughing and coughing when lying down can be characteristic of heart disease and congestive heart failure. As the disease progresses, the coughing is a sign that fluid is building up around the lungs. If heart disease is caught early, by combining medication, natural supplements, the right diet and exercise, you can help your pet feel so much better and improve its quality of life.
Coughing can be a symptom of cancers of the lungs, respiratory tract or heart. In lung cancer, coughing can accompany fluid accumulation around the chest and lungs (pleural effusion) making breathing difficult. Hemangiosarcoma is a type of aggressive cancer that can cause tumors on the heart, which also can cause coughing and pleural effusion. The pet may have difficulty settling down, exercise intolerance and water retention in the belly. Pleural effusion may occur due to noncancerous causes such as an infection or congestive heart failure, so determining if there is a tumor is essential.
Parasites such as heartworm and roundworm can also cause coughing in dogs. A heartworm-related cough is dry and persistent. As the disease progresses, a dog will have a more persistent cough and exercise intolerance. By the final stage of heartworm disease, a dog may show abnormal lung sounds, an enlarged liver and heart noises. Heartworm is spread by mosquitoes and is easily preventable with monthly medication; this is especially important if you live in an area with a high incidence of heartworm.
Less common reasons for coughing include asthma, environmental allergies, food allergies, inhalation of irritants (dust mites, smoke, mold, aerosol products), distemper and obesity.
If you notice your dog is coughing, and especially if the coughing is persistent, see your veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment. The sooner you begin treatment, the better chance your pup will have for recovery.
Wheezing is a high-pitched whistling sound your dog may make when he breathes. It may sound like an asthma attack or labored breathing. It is caused by narrowed airways and inflammation. In most cases, it is louder when the dog exhales, but it can also be present when a dog inhales. Wheezing is often seen with coughing, gagging and panting. These are all symptoms of respiratory distress, and it is important to see your vet to determine what is causing the breathing problems.
Common causes of wheezing are viral or bacterial infections (kennel cough, pneumonia), heartworm, chronic bronchitis, collapsed trachea, environmental allergies or lung tumors.
Flat-faced (brachycephalic) breeds are more prone to wheezing and noisy respiration due to their shortened nasal passages. Some common brachycephalic breeds are the pug, Pekingese, bulldog, Boston terrier, Shih Tzu, Lhasa Apso and boxer. Flat-faced breeds are also prone to reverse sneezing. Reverse sneezing is caused by a spasm of the throat and soft palate, and air is pulled rapidly and noisily through the nose. The sneezes are triggered by irritants, which can be as simple as excitement, pulling on a collar or leash or environmental allergies.
- Parasites, Viral & Bacterial Infections - Heartworm parasites are transmitted to dogs by mosquitoes and can live in the lungs and airways as they migrate to the heart. The wheezing develops as the worms block the blood flow and oxygen supply in the heart. Kennel cough (infectious tracheobronchitis) is caused by Bordetella bacteria and presents like a human chest cold. A dry cough is coupled with wheezing. Dogs with wheezing due to bacterial or viral infections generally have been in social settings with other dogs (dog park, doggie daycare or groomer).
- Collapsed Trachea & Chronic Bronchitis - The trachea and bronchi become constricted and less flexible, leading to wheezing and shortness of breath. This is most common in toy breed dogs, such as Yorkies, pugs, Maltese, Shih Tzus and Chihuahuas. Chronic bronchitis (also known as canine asthma) is fairly uncommon, but it creates scarring in the airways and the wheezing presents similarly to collapsed trachea.
- Allergies - Dogs can have allergies just like people, resulting in wheezing and constricted airways. This is a common reaction to allergens such as pollen, mold, dust mites, cigarette smoke, candles and perfumes. Some dogs may have seasonal allergies that cause symptoms more prominently during certain times of the year, but it’s important to remember that food allergies and inflammation in the pet’s microbiome can make its symptoms worse. The best outcome for a pet with seasonal allergies is to address both food and environmental allergens.
- Heart Disease or Lung Tumors - When there is a tumor in the lung tissue or when the pumping efficiency of the heart is compromised, fluid may build up in the lungs and dogs may wheeze as they try to get enough oxygenated air.
- Obstruction - If you suspect that your dog is wheezing due to something it inhaled, please take your dog to a veterinarian. Even if the airway is only partially obstructed, the dog can wheeze violently as it tries to get enough oxygen. This cannot be resolved at home.
- Heat Stroke & Obesity - On hot summer days, dogs may stay outside in the direct sunlight for too long or overexert themselves. Overweight or obese dogs may have exercise intolerance and wheeze even after going on short walks. If your dog is overweight, there are many easy ways to help it lose weight. Click here for 7 easy weight loss tips.
Panting is a normal behavior for dogs as it helps to regulate body temperature. However, there are two types of panting in dogs: normal and abnormal. Normal panting occurs following exercise, following periods of excitement or from being outside in hot weather. Mild panting with an open mouth, bright eyes and relaxed facial features is a “doggie smile,” and the panting should slow and then stop. Abnormal panting can be a sign of discomfort, stress, pain or a health problem that needs attention. Abnormal panting is raspier, harsher and louder than normal panting, and the dog will appear to be exerting more effort than normal.
Below are some of the more common reasons for abnormal panting:
Certain brachycephalic breeds such as pugs, Boston terriers, boxers and bulldogs tend to have genetic breathing difficulties and may pant more than dogs with longer muzzles. They may be at an increased risk of overheating and heatstroke due to their inability to pant efficiently.
- Cushing's Disease - Cushing's Disease (hyperadrenocorticism) is a hormonal imbalance in dogs. The adrenal glands produce too much cortisol (steroids) and the earliest and most common symptom of the disorder is excessive panting. Other signs may be hair loss, weight gain, a pot belly, increased thirst and urination, skin changes and irritability or restlessness.
- Pain - Dogs instinctively hide their pain. While some dogs may whine or cry out, more frequently they will pant as an indication of pain. Panting can be a very significant sign of pain in dogs. Unfortunately, many pet owners may not recognize the sign until other symptoms appear. Other signs of pain include limping or holding up a paw, changing how your dog sleeps or sits, hiding, avoiding play, shying away from being petted in a certain area or a decrease in appetite.
- Digestive Issues - When dogs experience digestive distress, especially a few hours after eating, they may pant and make gulping noises. If you notice your dog is panting excessively, gulping, or you hear tummy gurgling noises, your pet may be suffering with acid reflux, indigestion or other digestive discomforts. While other symptoms of digestive distress such as vomiting or diarrhea are more obvious, panting a few hours after eating is also a sign.
- Anxiety, Stress & Fear - When dogs are anxious, stressed or fearful, they exhibit “behavioral panting”. Other stress indicators may include yawning, pacing, trembling, hiding, whining or crying. Something as simple as a car ride or a visit to the vet can elicit a stress response. If your dog is panting due to anxiety or fear, a gentle pat and calm voice can offer them great comfort.
- Heart and Lung Disease - A dog with heart disease cannot pump blood efficiently enough throughout the body, so the tissues become deprived of oxygen. The body tries to compensate by increasing its respiration rate, resulting in panting. Other signs include exercise intolerance, weakness and coughing. As both heart and lung diseases progress, the fluid accumulation and congestion in the lungs causes a dog to breathe more rapidly and panting becomes more severe.
- Heatstroke - It's normal for a dog to pant on a hot day or following exercise, but dogs can get heatstroke. Dogs with heatstroke will pant heavily, appear to have difficulty breathing and may show excessive thirst, high temperature, a fast heartbeat and glazed eyes. Always take careful steps to keep your dog safe in hot weather. Never leave a dog alone in a car when the weather heats up and take walks early in the morning or later in the evening when the temperatures are cooler.
- Anemia – Red blood cells are responsible for oxygenation of tissue in the body. Anemia is a low red blood cell count that can result in oxygen deprivation and panting. Other signs of anemia can include weakness, elevated heart rate, pale mucous membranes, loss of appetite and rapid breathing.
- Laryngeal Paralysis - The cartilage flaps at the larynx (opening to the windpipe) should open during breathing and close during swallowing, but with laryngeal paralysis, the muscles are either weakened or paralyzed. The condition results in severe panting, raspy breathing, exercise intolerance, restricted airflow, stridor (high-pitched wheezing) and heat sensitivity. The condition is more common in large-breed dogs such as the Labrador retriever and Siberian husky.
- Bloat – Common in large, deep-chested breeds such as boxers and Great Danes. When a dog has recently eaten and begins to pant excessively, salivate, pace, and/or retch without vomiting, it may have bloat. Bloat can be a life-threatening emergency, and you should seek out immediate veterinary care.
- Respiratory Infection or Allergic Reaction – Respiratory infections such as pneumonia or bronchitis can cause your dog to pant. Dogs may also struggle to breathe if they are having an allergic reaction, possibly due to a new medication.
Not all panting is a cause for concern. It is a normal part of the cooling process in dogs. Dogs may perspire a little bit through their paw pads but cannot regulate their temperature without panting. Pay close attention to abnormal panting patterns, and seek the assistance of a veterinarian if they continue to occur.
Respiratory Infections (URIs) in Dogs
Dogs can suffer from viral or bacterial upper respiratory infections that make them cough, sneeze and sniffle, just like people. Breathing problems and coughing in dogs can be very frightening, especially if it continues beyond a few days. It is normal for a variety of bacteria to live in the canine nose, throat, sinus, trachea and sometimes lungs without causing signs of illness. Dogs can develop an overgrowth of these bacteria due to exposure, a weakened immune system, a virus or disease (such as congestive heart failure or lung tumors). Cancer, heart disease and collapsed trachea can also cause coughing and symptoms that are similar to an upper respiratory infection in dogs.
Understanding the root cause of your dog's upper respiratory infection or breathing ailments, the types of respiratory infections and the triggers that can prolong the infection can help you to finally get much-needed relief for your pet.
Dog Respiratory Infection Symptoms
Does your dog have a runny nose and eyes? Is it coughing? Not acting like itself? A dog "cold" has similar symptoms to a human cold. Please be sure to take your dog to the veterinarian if you observe any of these symptoms. Dogs with upper respiratory infections and bronchitis may have the following symptoms:
Runny or squinting eyes
Itchy nose (pawing at the face)
Noisy breathing or difficulty breathing (snorting or wheezing)
Types of Upper Respiratory Infections in Dogs
Upper respiratory infections in dogs affect the upper part of the airway: throat, trachea, nasal cavities and bronchi. About 90% of canine upper respiratory infections are viral.
Common types of infection include the following:
- Bacterial infections – Streptococcus and Escherichia coli are two bacteria that commonly cause respiratory infection and pneumonia in dogs.
- Canine Flu (Influenza)(also known as dog flu) - In canines, this is a contagious viral respiratory infection caused by specific Type A influenza viruses: H3N2 or H3H8. Dogs typically develop a persistent cough, thick nasal discharge and fever. Some dogs will show no clinical signs, while others can develop a secondary bacterial infection that can lead to more severe illnesses. Canine flu is easily spread between dogs by nasal secretions (barking, coughing or sneezing) and contaminated objects (food and water bowls, collars and leashes).
- Distemper – This is a viral infection in dogs that affects the respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems. This is a highly contagious and very serious disease. If your dog is showing neurological symptoms, please seek out the advice of a vet.
- Kennel Cough (also known as Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease (CIRD) or Infectious Tracheobronchitis) - This is a highly contagious canine respiratory disease. It is caused by the bacteria Bordetella bronchiseptica and generally is combined with another bacteria or virus. The most common is the parainfluenza virus. The hallmark symptom of kennel cough is the dry, hacking cough. It is usually contracted when dogs are in close contact, for example, when they are at kennels, boarding facilities, shelters, dog parks or even the vet clinic.
- Lung Cancer - Lung cancer in dogs is a much more severe disease than common respiratory infections. Early symptoms can be similar to an upper respiratory infection, so if the problem persists or worsens, it is important to have your pet evaluated by a veterinarian.
- Parainfluenza – This is a highly contagious respiratory virus. It is the most common pathogen of infectious tracheobronchitis, or canine cough. The cough results from the inflammation of the trachea, bronchi and sometimes the lungs.
- Pneumonia - Pneumonia is a serious lung infection that results in inflammation of the lung tissues. It may become a life-threatening emergency. It can develop as a complication of kennel cough, canine influenza or distemper. Symptoms of pneumonia may include cough, fever, difficulty breathing, lack of appetite, sluggishness, nasal discharge, dehydration, rapid breathing and exercise intolerance. It’s more common in very young or old dogs, or dogs with compromised immune systems.
Natural Treatments for Dog Respiratory Issues
Pets with breathing problems will often need medications. However, the best treatment for upper respiratory infection in dogs is to take preventative measures to help support your pet's cardiovascular and upper respiratory health. Treatment options vary depending on the reason your pet is having breathing difficulty.
Immune Support & Asthma Kit
Immune Support & Asthma Kit - This trio of three liquid immune support formulas provides gentle, natural support for small dogs with asthma and upper respiratory infections. They can be used in combination with veterinary medication. The formulas work to clear up sinuses and the nasal tract and improve breathing. They reduce inflammation and support your pet's immune system to reduce viral flare-ups.
QuentaSAN Drops or Capsules - This is a powerful antiviral, anti-infection homeopathic remedy. This homeopathic remedy is the first line of defense with any upper respiratory condition. QuentaSAN drops or capsules work best when combined with NotaSAN. The two formulas work synergistically to control infections and inflammation. QuentaSAN seems to be especially helpful for lung-related health issues. Many pet owners have reported excellent results in relieving continual discharge, runny nose and sneezing related to viruses when QuentaSAN and NotaSAN were administered.
NotaSAN Drops or Capsules - This is a powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-infection formula. This homeopathic remedy is especially important for relieving allergy symptoms. NotaSAN, when combined with QuentaSAN, works very well to control chronic upper respiratory infections, asthma and eye and nasal discharge or as a home remedy for dog bronchitis. The two formulas are available as tasteless drops that can be easily administered to small pets or as capsules for larger dogs.
Silver Immune Support For Pets - This is an easy-to-use, anti-infection liquid. These nontoxic drops are safe for tiny pets and have been shown in research to help reduce viral replication. By reducing infection, inflammation is reduced in the membranes, reducing mucus and making it easier for the dog to breathe.
Power Probiotic - This multi-strain formula can be sprinkled on food or eaten by itself (many pets like the taste of it). Power Probiotic promotes the growth of friendly bacteria, which aid your pet's immune system. Why is this important? The majority of your pet's immune system resides in the intestinal tract. Using Power Probiotic is essential if your pet has taken steroids or antibiotics, as these medications reduce the population of friendly bacteria. Friendly bacteria fight off pathogens, bad bacteria and viruses in an effort to keep your dog healthy. Power Probiotic is essential for all pets.
Amazing Omegas - Omega 3 fatty acids can reduce symptoms and inflammation in the respiratory system. Amazing Omegas is the absolute best fish oil for pets, and it’s naturally derived from sardines, mackerel and anchovies. Packed in glass bottles, it is free from toxins and PCBs. It only takes a few drops to help your pet.
Immune Harmony - This product contains plant sterols proven to be effective for treating chronic infections, chronic allergies and serious immune conditions such as cancer. Rather than overstimulating your pet's immune system, this wonderful product helps to balance immune function. Immune Harmony helps to modulate the immune system and supports long-term immune health. While home remedies for kennel cough or dog breathing issues can alleviate some symptoms, using Immune Harmony can provide long-term immune support and help prevent reinfection.
The Best Diet for Dogs With Respiratory Issues
Dogs are carnivores. For your convenience, manufacturers make dry food that can be left out all day. Dry food is over processed and overcooked and requires high amounts of carbohydrates to manufacture the food so it will stick together. Carbohydrates break down into sugar, which feeds the bacteria and viruses, creating a vicious cycle. Finally, to improve storage time, many manufacturers add chemical preservatives to keep the food from spoiling so you can leave it out all day.......Click here to learn more about how dry kibble can affect your pet's health.
In addition to avoiding dry kibble, feeding a hypoallergenic diet using a novel protein has been especially helpful for dogs with upper respiratory infections, allergies, asthma and other chronic infections. There isn't "one" diet that is appropriate for every pet, as age, breed and health conditions vary. On the order form at checkout, please include your pet's diet, and we will provide a diet suggestion for your pet's specific needs on the packing slip that comes with the product directions.
Why Use Ask Ariel Supplements To Help Your Dog With Respiratory Issues and Breathing Problems?
Many pet owners have seen the benefits of using supplements for their own health and now want the same for their pets. Our premium, natural pet supplements have been used successfully in veterinary hospitals since 2005. Ask Ariel's remedies are selected based on quality, scientific research and proven results. A holistic approach with supplements and diet changes (FREE diet tips on the packing slip with your order) can give your pet much-needed immune support. Many veterinarians have seen the proven results of our products with their patients, which is why Ask Ariel pet supplements are veterinarian recommended nationwide.
If you have questions, please feel free to email us at Support@AskAriel.com. We will be happy to provide you with additional information about our natural remedies for conditions that cause coughing, wheezing, panting, and breathing problems, but please know that due to veterinary regulations, we cannot provide individualized consultative advice without a physical exam.