Causes of Asthma in Dogs
Asthma is a condition marked by recurrent attacks of difficulty breathing (dyspnea). Asthmatic dogs typically display wheezing and shortness of breath. They also have spasms and constriction of the large upper airways. In dogs, asthma is usually referred to as allergic bronchitis. It is a rather common condition in our domestic dogs.
Asthma in dogs is typically caused by an allergic reaction to something in the environment – called an allergen – which is usually, but not always, inhaled. The allergen itself can be virtually anything. Common inciting causes of canine allergic bronchitis include chemicals, cigarette or fireplace smoke, air pollution (smog, smoke from wildfires or crop burning), carpet cleaners or other household cleaning products, perfumes (including those in deodorant or hair spray), room fresheners, fertilizers, home remodeling products, paint, landscaping materials, pesticides, pollen, grasses, weeds or other shrubbery and animal dander (new pets, kennel or veterinary visits), among other things. Often, the precise asthmatic trigger is never identified.
Preventing Asthma in Dogs
Canine allergic bronchitis can only be prevented by identifying and removing the inciting allergens from the dog’s environment, or by otherwise preventing contact by the dog with those allergens. If that cannot be accomplished, certain medications are available to help manage the symptoms of asthma, although medication will not actually “prevent” the condition.
Fortunately, allergic bronchitis in dogs is uncommon. Because the signs of asthma mimic those associated with other conditions, such as heartworm disease and other lung infections or disorders, diagnosis of asthma is only made after extensive assessment to rule out other potential causes of the clinical signs. The prognosis for dogs with asthma is good to excellent if the inciting allergen can be identified and avoided. Long-term symptomatic treatment will be necessary in most other cases to enable affected dogs to lead relatively normal lives. If the condition becomes chronic, it will be progressive but rarely life-threatening and, with consistent medical management, those dogs should also enjoy a very good quality of life, with a normal life expectancy.