Millions of humans suffer from asthma and its complications. It’s a common respiratory complaint and can often be debilitating – but – did you know that dogs can also suffer from asthma, and if left untreated, can cause serious complications or even worse, be fatal. Understanding asthma and how it important to know the symptoms of asthma and how it presents in dogs.

What are the symptoms of asthma in dogs?

Although asthma is not all that common in dogs, it is important to be able to recognise the symptoms, which may be intermittent and can range from mild to life-threatening.

Symptoms to look out for are recurrent attacks of –

  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing (gasping or gulping for breath with an open mouth)
  • Coughing
  • Fatigue
  • Pale or blue gums (seek urgent medical help)

Decreased energy is often an early warning sign as due to a lack of oxygen, your dog may suffer from an overall lack of energy, becoming lethargic and not able to manage much exercise or activity. They may be unable to cope with long walks or may even resist going for walks at all.

An asthmatic dog can be panicked and difficult to calm down. It is important to never impede an asthmatic dog’s ability to breathe by closing his mouth; doing so may result in bite injury.

The most common cause of asthma in dogs is an allergic reaction to something in their environment which has been

inhaled – this could be grass seeds, pollen, perfume, cigarette smoke etc. This can be easily remedied by removing the allergen but it’s not worth taking a chance – if you suspect that your dog is suffering from asthma, ask your Vet to check him out. Your Vet will examine your pet and run tests, which should include a chest x-ray, to help rule out any other illness before they can clearly diagnose asthma as the cause.

Once asthma has been diagnosed, the treatment will be very similar to treatment that would be prescribed for a human – and likely to include steroids and a canine asthma inhaler. Ideally you should avoid or minimise your dog’s exposure to the allergens which are triggering the reaction, but as its almost impossible to identify precisely which one is causing the problem, your Vet will advise you on how best to how best to minimise exposure to the most likely triggers.

Chronic asthma is most common in older dogs, small breeds and those breeds with flat faces, and again, your Vet is there to assist you with ongoing care and assistance.