Like you, dogs can suffer from respiratory problems with many of the same symptoms. Some of these respiratory problems, such as distemper, can be deadly. However, many of the most common diseases can be treated and prevented. Here are three of the more common types of respiratory problems that dogs can have and what you can do to prevent them from getting worse and spreading.
Upper Respiratory Infections (Similar to Colds)
There are several types of respiratory infections that dogs can have which mimic the common cold in humans. Symptoms of these diseases generally include a runny nose, watery eyes, cough, and lethargy. However, the virus is species-specific, so you don't have to worry about catching these diseases yourself. If your dog is eating and drinking at or near normal levels, then you mostly have to keep him or her rested and comfortable until symptoms subside. Symptomatic dogs should be kept away from healthy animals as many upper respiratory infections are highly contagious.
Allergies and Asthma
Dogs can also have severe environmental allergies that can affect their lungs and cause asthmatic symptoms. In addition to sneezing, your dog may also cough and you may hear wheezing sounds when he or she breathes. Small dogs and those with flat faces may struggle with these problems more noticeably due to their airways being smaller or more distorted by design. Common airborne allergens include smoke, dust, mold, pollen and even the dander of other animals. Your best bet is eliminating or reducing the offending allergens. If that's not possible, see your veterinarian on ways you can make your dog more comfortable.
Kennel cough usually affects dogs that are kept in close quarters with other dogs. Your dog will be constantly coughing and may sound like he or she is choking. The culprit is a bacteria that easily spreads throughout close, poorly ventilated quarters. Stress, cold weather, and exposure to respiratory irritants can also exacerbate the symptoms. Most otherwise healthy dogs can recover from this ailment in a few weeks, but they can easily spread the bacteria while they are still sick. The disease can also be treated with antibiotics and prevented by vaccination.
No matter what the cause might be, if your dog is having a serious problem breathing, take him or her to a veterinarian immediately. The same goes for dogs who are showing no signs of improving, are having problems eating or being unable to stay conscious. If you want to know more about preventing and treating respiratory diseases in your pets, contact a dog care professional or veterinarian for information about preventative vaccines and treatments.