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Bronchitis is a disease characterized by inflammation in the bronchi and bronchioles — the parts of the lungs through which oxygen-rich air travels. Inflammation in these airways leads to mucus production, coughing and irritation. This stimulates the production of more mucus and leads to a cycle of constant inflammation.

In dogs, Bronchitis may come on suddenly and improve with treatment if it occurs as a secondary problem to an infectious disease or other disorder of the airways. In many cases, bronchitis is a chronic, long-term condition due to allergies or hypersensitivity of the airways

If you see the signs of bronchitis in your dog, then it’s important to contact your veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment. If it goes untreated, it can lead to other conditions such as pneumonia. Most dogs recover without complications so long as they get proper treatment.

Types and Causes of Bronchitis in Dogs

Bronchitis can be Chronic or Acute (short duration). Unlike chronic bronchitis, acute bronchitis is associated with reversible changes in the structure of the airways. Bronchitis may be caused by bacterial infections, hypersensitivity disorders (allergies), parasites (i.e., lung worms, heartworm) or chronic inhalation of airway irritants (second-hand smoke, dusts, exhaust fumes, etc.). In chronic bronchitis the underlying cause cannot be identified.

There are multiple factors that can lead to bronchitis in dogs such as;

  • Infectious disease (bacterial or viral infections; may be caused by kennel cough)
  • Fungal infection
  • Inhaled environmental allergies
  • Lungworms
  • Collapsing trachea
  • Pneumonia (can be a cause, a concurrent problem, or a secondary issue)
  • Cancer
  • Foreign body in the airway
  • Anatomical deformities

Symptoms of Bronchitis in Dogs


The most common sign of bronchitis in dogs is a persistent cough. Other symptoms may include:

  • Increased breathing rate
  • Fever
  • Wheezing while breathing
  • Excessive mucous production or frothy saliva following coughing/retching
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sneezing and nasal discharge
  • In chronic bronchitis, syncopal episodes (the rapid loss of consciousness due to temporary deficiency of oxygen to the brain) following coughing may be seen
  • In cases of viral bronchitis, a harsh, dry cough with sudden onset may be seen along with retching and gagging
  • Anorexia and lethargy

Diagnosis

Your vet will perform a physical examination and review your dog’s medical history to rule out other potential conditions.
The vet may perform other diagnostic tests such as X-rays, bronchoscopy, and a tracheal wash to determine if your pet is suffering from chronic bronchitis. Taking a video of your dog coughing can help your vet determine if canine chronic bronchitis is the cause.

Treatment of Bronchitis in Dogs

In mild cases or those with a recent onset of signs, supportive therapy may be effective, but treatment of the underlying disease (if present) is also needed. Rest, warmth, and proper hygiene are important. Corticosteroids are often used to decrease airway inflammation in dogs with chronic bronchitis.

If bacterial infection is present, antibiotics may be prescribed. A persistent, dry (nonproductive) cough may be controlled by a prescribed cough suppressant that contains codeine. The veterinarian may perform or prescribe therapy such as use of a mist (nebulization) or steam from a hot shower to help loosen secretions and stimulate coughing up of secretions.

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