Symptoms and Signs of Bronchitis in Dogs

Source: PetWave, Updated on July 16, 2015

How Bronchitis Affects Dogs

A harsh, dry cough that may or may not be productive is the classic sign of bronchitis. Dogs with chronic bronchitis have a cough that lasts more than two months and is not attributable to any identifiable source or cause. The cough usually is not more or less prevalent during the day or at night and often is triggered by exercise, activity, stress or physical pressure on the trachea (sometimes called the “wind pipe”), such as from straining against a collar and leash. In most cases, it is better to transition a dog with bronchitis to a chest harness or a head halter rather than a neck collar, to prevent undue irritation of the trachea.

Symptoms of Bronchitis

A dog with bronchitis will typically have the following symptoms:

  • Cough – dry and hacking (very common; usually can be induced by applying pressure to the trachea; may be productive due to excessive production of mucus by damaged tracheal and bronchial tissues)
  • Fever (+/-; can be fluctuating)
  • Retching, gagging and passing foamy saliva at the end of a coughing fit (this is called the “terminal retch” and is frequently mistaken by owners for vomiting)
  • Wheezing
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty breathing (dyspnea)
  • Rapid breathing (tachypnea)

Dogs at Increased Risk

Obesity is a common and complicating factor in dogs with chronic bronchitis.

Small and toy breeds seem to be affected more frequently by chronic bronchitis than are larger dogs, although any dog is at risk. West Highland White Terriers, Cocker Spaniels and older or aging dogs are predisposed.

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