Pet Asthma: Signs, Symptoms and Treatments


Asthma in pets can be just as serious as asthma in humans, and even life-threatening if left untreated. The American Lung Association reports that one out of every 100 dogs and one out of every 300 cats has asthma, which makes it the most common allergic disease in animals.

While there isn’t always a known cause, environmental factors, including pollen and mold, are common triggers. If you suspect your pet has asthma, here are some symptoms to look out for and treatments that may help your pet breathe easier.


Understand that it’s very common

Though there are a variety of pets that can have asthma, cats and dogs seem to be the most common cases.

Dogs with asthma typically have symptoms of coughing (sometimes like a bark), heavy breathing (with visible panting), sleepiness or lethargy, general unresponsiveness, and weight loss.

Cats may display similar symptoms of heavy breathing, difficulty breathing in the litter box because of constricted lungs or loss of appetite for food or water.

Sometimes, pets will just stop playing and show signs of depression such as losing interest in favorite toys or activities. While it’s important to consult your veterinarian about your pet’s health first, it’s also good to know what you should do if your pet has any of these signs.

It’s advisable to put your pet in a location where they can breathe more easily if they show any of these signs. If they’re not reacting well, speak with a veterinarian right away!

The veterinarian may advise utilizing medications like bronchodilators and steroids, or even administering antibiotics to prevent infections, if they are conscious but still having problems breathing.

Before enrolling, be sure to inquire about the cost of your pet’s surgery.

In some cases, this could run into thousands of dollars.

Always ask your vet what else you can do at home so that visits are few and far between!


Know what to look for

Pet owners should be aware of the signs and symptoms of asthma in pets. Once diagnosed, veterinarians often recommend anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce swelling in the airways.

If that doesn’t work, your pet may require an inhaler with a bronchodilator to help them breathe better. Some dogs and cats are able to use supplemental oxygen if they have severe or chronic asthma.

If these treatments don’t work, surgery is sometimes recommended. One procedure is called pulmonary lobectomy which involves removing one lung lobe and sometimes part of the other lung lobe.

Pets who undergo this type of surgery can live a long time afterwards. Owners also need to make sure their pet has sufficient access to fresh air by keeping windows open when possible or providing them with outdoor exercise opportunities.

Dogs should always be walked on leashes and prevented from running free. Cats should not be allowed to go outside without supervision as they’re at risk of contracting parasites like fleas or worms.

Pet owners might want to consider getting air filters installed in their homes as well as checking with local authorities about any potential sources of pollutants such as factories or power plants nearby.


Recognize possible causes

Common causes of pet asthma are inhalant allergies (such as pollen, animal dander, or dust mites), and airway hypersensitivity.

However some breeds such as pugs, bulldogs, borzoi are predisposed to canine bronchitis or COPD because they often have a deep chest cavity which decreases the lungs’ ability to function properly.

These dogs should be checked by a veterinarian before exercise if they show any signs of coughing or difficulty breathing. Other possible culprits include cardiac disease, lung cancer, infectious diseases and disorders that reduce air flow in the upper respiratory tract.

Treatment for asthma includes prevention of allergic reactions through elimination of triggers, and management with medications.

The most common drugs used for treatment are corticosteroids (often given orally) but other options include theophylline, beta-agonists, xanthines and antihistamines.

With early detection and appropriate treatment, pets can live happy lives without struggling with their own breath!


Consider home remedies

Home remedies are a viable option for battling pet asthma, but it’s important to consult with your veterinarian before administering any. Consult with your vet to determine if your dog needs medications or steroids.

Administer oral medication every day to soothe the lungs and help reduce inflammation in the airways. Ensure that your dog has plenty of fresh water available.

Ask your veterinarian about complementary treatments like acupuncture or herbal supplements if the home remedies don’t help. If things don’t get better, surgery can be required.

After three months, consult your veterinarian once more if symptoms worsen or continue. Surgery can involve removing the trachea (windpipe) which will stop further inhalation of allergens.

Surgery is often effective for asthmatic dogs because it allows them to breathe more easily and prevents life-threatening respiratory problems.

You can also visit an allergy specialist who will assess your dog’s condition and prescribe appropriate treatment based on their findings.


Try natural remedies

For all of you dog lovers out there, I want to share some good news. Your canine or feline best friend can likely be successfully treated for asthma!

There are many natural remedies that can help with pet asthma symptoms including a high-quality diet, supplements like turmeric, essential oils such as lavender and lemongrass, acupressure at the animal’s earlobe (the point is on the same side as the armpit), chiropractic adjustments to reduce stress in the nervous system and more.

If your pet has a medical history of allergies or sensitivities (such as food allergies) then a veterinary allergist should be consulted.

Consultations may also be necessary if your pet is not responding well to treatment or if the signs and symptoms become worse.


Use the medication as prescribed by your vet

If your pet is prescribed medication to control asthma attacks then use it as prescribed by your vet. If symptoms persist then speak with your vet about possible alternatives.

Treatment for an asthma attack may include nebulized medications (inhaled), oral medications, oxygen therapy, or bronchodilators which are a type of inhaler. 

Nebulizers can be used at home but some need a prescription from the vet first so check before purchasing one. 

Oral treatments for pets may include bronchodilators, antibiotics, or steroid tablets that should be given once daily for two weeks after an attack has subsided before being tapered off.

These pills may help reduce inflammation in the airways, prevent future episodes and improve lung function. Some pets may also require immunotherapy if they have allergic reactions that trigger their asthma.

For these animals small doses of allergens are administered gradually to teach the immune system not to react strongly. It may take up to 6 months before improvement becomes noticeable.

Talk to your vet about any allergies your pet might have because there’s no point administering treatment if the cause isn’t known.


Visit the vet regularly and keep records

The vet will first perform a thorough physical exam to rule out anything else that could be causing the symptoms. The vet will also ask about possible allergens or other environmental factors in the home.

If asthma is confirmed, the vet may prescribe steroids for your pet to reduce inflammation of bronchial passages and increase airflow.

Pet owners should visit their veterinarian regularly to make sure asthma medications are effective and as needed. It’s important to monitor how often they’re used and take notes on when it’s time for a refill.

It’s also important to know if there are any side effects so you can bring them up with the vet right away. Dogs with chronic allergies might need more than one type of medication.

Your veterinarian might recommend adding antihistamines and bronchodilators to the regimen.

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email