Goals of Treating Bronchitis
The goals of treating canine bronchitis are to relieve inflammation of the sensitive lining of the airways, remove any physical airway obstructions, alleviate the frequency and severity of the dog’s cough and cure any secondary respiratory tract infections.
The attending veterinarian has a number of pharmaceutical medications at her disposal to manage dogs with bronchitis. In acute cases, antibiotics, bronchodilators, anti-inflammatory drugs and/or cough suppressants may be appropriate. Cough suppressants should not be used if the dog’s cough is productive (in other words, if the dog can successfully expel mucus, pus or phlegm by coughing), or if an underlying viral or bacterial infection is present. Dogs that are having significant difficulty breathing (dyspnea) may need to be hospitalized for administration of oxygen therapy until their breathing can be stabilized.
Dogs with chronic bronchitis are more difficult to treat successfully than are dogs with acute-onset of the disease. Obviously, any identifiable sources of airway irritation should be eliminated from the dog’s living environment – including dust, airborne fumes, perfumes, carpet cleaners, air deodorizers, fertilizers, pesticides, cigarette smoke and smoke from fireplaces or wood-burning stoves. Anti-inflammatory medication (such as oral or inhaled prednisone or other corticosteroids), oral cough suppressants and/or bronchodialators (either oral or inhaled) can be quite helpful in relieving the dog’s discomfort by reducing the frequency and severity of its coughing bouts. Antibiotics are available if an underlying bacterial infection is identified. Weight loss is extremely important if the affected dog is obese.
While most cases of bronchitis are considered treatable, it is rarely possible to completely eliminate the dog’s cough. Chronic bronchitis is a progressive disease that causes physical and physiological changes in the dog’s airways. Thankfully, it rarely is fatal or life-threatening. Most affected dogs can be well-managed medically and go on to enjoy excellent qualities of life with normal life spans.