Pneumonia in Pets: What You Need to Know


Pneumonia in pets is an illness that affects the respiratory system and causes inflammation in the lungs. The main symptom of pneumonia in pets is coughing, which can also be accompanied by difficulty breathing, increased heart rate, or loss of appetite.

Depending on the severity of the infection, treatment options may vary from antibiotics to surgery.

Read on to learn more about this condition in pets and how you can recognize signs of pneumonia in your pet today!



The most common symptoms of pneumonia in pets are a change in breathing patterns, shortness of breath, and high fever. Some people also report seeing their pet struggle for breath with an open mouth and/or hunching over when walking or standing.

Occasionally, pets may cough up mucus that is usually yellow-greenish in color. If you notice any of these symptoms you should take your pet to the vet as soon as possible.

Your veterinarian will do a physical exam, x-rays, and possibly blood work before deciding on a treatment plan. Treatments vary from pain medications and antibiotics to surgery depending on the severity of the case.

Treatment can be costly but it’s worth saving your furry friend’s life! In conclusion, if you notice any of these symptoms in your pet it is imperative that you take them to the vet immediately.

And don’t forget about checking out this blog post – we cover all sorts of interesting things like how much water should my cat drink and what are fleas.


Causes and Risk Factors

Lung infections include pneumonia. Bacteria, viruses, fungi, or an irritant is one class of chemical that can cause pneumonia. Not all cases of pneumonia are the same.

For example, viral pneumonia occurs from viral infections such as influenza and canine distemper. Irritant pneumonia results from exposure to smoke, strong chemicals, and other airborne irritants.

These are sometimes referred to as environmental or hypersensitivity pneumonia. Smoking is one of the most common causes of chronic pneumonia in pets.

Other risk factors for developing pneumonia include age (older pets), heart disease, diabetes mellitus, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), Cushing’s syndrome, cancer, liver disease, kidney disease, blood clotting problems (inherited or acquired), and high altitude living.

Some animals with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS or cancer, may also develop pneumonia because their immune system cannot fight off infection.

Causes of bacterial pneumonia include severe kennel cough, Bordetella bronchiseptica, Mycoplasma pulmonis, and Chlamydophila felis. The most common cause of Feline upper respiratory infections is the feline calicivirus and feline herpes virus-1 (also known as FHV-1).

Allergic reactions to flea bites can also cause pneumonia in cats.



Your vet will do a thorough physical exam, including listening to your pet’s chest with a stethoscope, performing a thorough lung and heart examination, palpating (touching) the lungs and abdomen, measuring body temperature, and taking some blood for lab testing.

X-rays of the chest may also be necessary. 

For the treatment of pneumonia, veterinarians usually prescribe antibiotics. Depending on the severity of your pet’s condition, intravenous fluids may be administered as well.

Other treatments include bronchodilators, oxygen therapy, and pain relief medication. 

The prognosis is dependent on the underlying cause of pneumonia and how quickly it responds to treatment. In many cases, pets make a full recovery after receiving appropriate medical care.

However, cats have been known to develop the chronic respiratory disease after contracting pneumonitis. If this happens, a veterinarian may recommend additional treatments such as bronchodilators or immunosuppressants.

Prevention is key so talk to your veterinarian about vaccines that can help keep your pet healthy and happy! If you think your pet has contracted pneumonia, call your veterinarian immediately.

These infections can worsen quickly without prompt treatment, leading to sepsis (a life-threatening whole-body response to infection), pulmonary edema (excess fluid in the lungs), congestive heart failure, and death.



Most vaccines can prevent the spread of most viruses, but they do not protect against all of them. New viruses are still being discovered and new ways to vaccinate pets are being found.

In order for your pet’s immune system to work at its best, it is important that they have good food and healthy living conditions with plenty of space and time outdoors.

Lastly, you need to keep them up-to-date on their shots by consulting with your veterinarian. When any symptoms show up, call your vet immediately.

If you see a sudden change in breathing or eating habits, or if your pet starts drooling excessively or vomiting more than usual, consult with a vet as soon as possible.

It is always better to be safe than sorry! Don’t wait until pneumonia is severe before seeking medical attention from your veterinarian.

Vaccines may help reduce the chance of developing pneumonia but there is no vaccine available for preventing cats from catching this virus.

For those animals who are at risk of exposure, vaccinations will increase immunity levels and decrease the severity. Prevention methods such as vaccination may be able to lower the risk of contracting respiratory infections but there is currently no cure.


Treatment Options

The first step is figuring out the severity of your pet’s condition. If your animal only has mild symptoms and doesn’t seem too sick, treatment might not be necessary.

If it looks like your pet could have pneumonia, you’ll want to do one of two things: treat them with antibiotics or see a vet. A vet can also determine whether or not it’s true pneumonia, as well as look for other illnesses that could be causing similar symptoms.

Different types of bacteria cause different types of pneumonia in pets, so there are different treatments depending on what type is diagnosed.

Your vet will choose the right antibiotic based on the culture results and severity of your pet’s illness. Antibiotics come in pill form or liquid form; both forms work equally well but if given via injection, they’re more effective.

You’ll need to administer these treatments three times per day until your pet’s fever goes down and he seems less lethargic. If all of his symptoms go away, you can reduce the dosage by giving him antibiotics twice per day (or even once).

Otherwise, keep giving him medications three times per day until he gets better.



Some animals are very sensitive to this bacteria and as a result, it can quickly lead to pneumonia.

Animals who have weaker immune systems such as geriatric or immunocompromised pets may be more prone to the condition. Pneumonia is also life-threatening for young kittens and puppies.

In these cases, owners should take their pets to the vet right away. Treatment options depend on how severe the condition is but they often include antibiotics, bronchodilators, steroids, and supplemental oxygen.

The veterinarian will assess the patient’s respiratory system by listening with a stethoscope or with an x-ray machine if there are any signs of fluid buildup in their lungs.

These treatments should help clear up the bacterial infection before long. 

The best prevention methods involve regularly checking your pet’s teeth and gums, controlling fleas, avoiding contact with other sick animals, and washing your hands after touching your animal.

As always, regular visits to the vet can make all the difference when it comes to diagnosing illness early enough so that treatment is effective.


Consequences of Untreated Lung Disease

Untreated lung disease can lead to a buildup of fluid in the lungs, pneumonia, or both. Untreated lung disease also puts pressure on the other organs which can compromise their function.

If not detected and treated early, untreated lung disease can be fatal. Cats are especially susceptible because they cannot cough effectively as humans do.

Treatment includes antibiotics, oxygen therapy, and fluids. Aggressive treatment is required for cats because they cannot cough effectively as humans do.

If you think your pet has lung disease, please contact your veterinarian right away. The earlier it’s diagnosed and treated, the better chance your pet will have of a full recovery.

There are many factors that may contribute to lung disease, including heart failure and liver problems. Other symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath, weight loss, high fever, and even nosebleeds.

In pets with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), breathing becomes difficult because the airways become inflamed and narrowed making it harder for air to get into the lungs where gas exchange takes place.



What is pneumonia?

Pneumonia is the inflammation of the lung tissues, usually caused by a bacterial or viral infection. The immune system reacts to this bacterial or viral substance and attacks the bacteria or virus; however, it can attack and damage the lungs in doing so.

The lungs fill with fluid and start to leak. Signs of pneumonia include difficulty breathing, weakness, lethargy, fever, shaking paws (panting), trouble with swallowing, and coughing.

Take your pet to the veterinarian right away if they exhibit any of these signs.

You should also take your pet to the vet immediately away if they have been exposed to smoke from a fire or cigarettes since they could be suffering from a respiratory condition other than pneumonia.

If your pet’s symptoms are more severe, they might have acute pulmonary edema, which also has to be treated by a veterinarian right once.

These cases need oxygen therapy and IV fluids. A hospital stay will likely be required for at least 3-5 days. Acute pulmonary edema is life-threatening if not treated promptly and aggressively.

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