Why Is My Dog Wheezing? Causes, Treatment, and Prevention
Dog wheezing occurs when your dog's airways become blocked, causing your dog to force more air through and lead to difficulty in breathing.
This can occur for several reasons, including mucus build-up, asthma, or something may be lodged in the dog's trachea. The more force your dog uses to breathe normally, the more they will wheeze.
If you are wondering how to stop wheezing in dogs, it is crucial to remember that wheezing itself is not a condition—it is just a symptom of something else going on with your pup!
Read on to learn more about the different kinds of canine respiratory ailments and how it causes wheezing in dogs, and the available treatments and prevention to ease your pet's discomfort.
Most of the time, wheezing is not a call for concern. It is probably just a sign of an innocent cold or a run of the mill allergy, if your dog is not showing any other signs of illness or discomfort.
If your dog is wheezing but otherwise behaving normally e.g., staying interested in eating, playing, and sleeping like usual, there is no reason to panic.
But sometimes, a dog's wheezing can signify that something more serious is happening with your pet. There will likely be other symptoms present in this case, like coughing, vomiting, or loss of appetite. In a situation like this, you should take your dog to see a vet.
While there are many causes for wheezing in dogs, allergies are among the most common reasons. Wheezing can mean that it is difficult for your furry friend to breathe, and this may also be coupled with coughing or sneezing.
Allergies in dogs can be caused by various things, including dust mites, air fresheners, airborne allergens, food, or flea bites. If your pet is usually playing outdoors, they can also contract other allergens such as pollen, which counts as one of the top causes of seasonal allergies.
Dogs are prone to ingest anything they can sink their teeth into—they often need assistance after swallowing a foreign body that can get lodged in your dog's airway, stuck in nasal passages, or lurch in your dog's windpipe.
Even though you cannot keep your dog's nose away from everything, you can make sure they are not able to get their mouth on something they should not ingest. You can prevent this by cleaning up anything around the house that might be a choking hazard for your dogs and investing in durable toys that do not easily shred apart.
Suppose your dog is wheezing and producing a whistling sound. In that case, it is crucial to give your dog immediate medical attention because the ingestion of a foreign body is considered an emergency.
Canine chronic bronchitis is a long-term and irreversible condition that affects all dogs, but most smaller breeds and older dogs are likely to contract this disease. This condition is characterised by the inflammation of the airways, which causes swelling in the dog's airway, causing congestion that leaves your dog without enough oxygen.
If the condition worsens, this disease can collapse your dog's lungs and cause your pup to lose their life.
The most common culprit of chronic bronchitis in dogs is if they inhale cigarette smoke from their surroundings. Sometimes, however, it can be caused by an infection or inhaled irritants like perfume or dust. You may notice your dog wheezing and coughing, breathing problems, and seeming exhausted.
One of the common causes of dog wheezing is heart disease—it affects 10% of all dogs and about 75% of senior dogs.
Congestive heart failure occurs when a dog's heart cannot pump enough blood to the body. When this happens, pressure increases in the chest area, leading to fluid build-up that leaks to the lungs and other organs.
Most dogs suffering from heart disease have trouble breathing, are constantly coughing, and may have exercise intolerance, weight loss, lack of appetite, and fatigue.
Diagnosing congestive heart failure in your pet requires chest x-rays and other tests to assess if your dog suffers from a heart condition. If you notice any signs of heart disease, take your dog to the vet immediately.
Another underlying cause if your dog is wheezing is collapsing trachea—this condition occurs when the cartilage rings that make up the tracheal wall collapses. Although it is normal for other dogs to make unusual sounds, a collapsing trachea may lead to discomfort and unusual noises whenever your dog breathes.
A collapsed trachea is not a condition—other diseases like congestive heart failure typically cause it. And in some cases, the causes remain unknown.
Dog's wheezing may also indicate upper respiratory infection brought about by bacterial and viral causes that affect the dogs' respiratory system. Different infections pose risks for younger dogs, senior dogs, and dogs with an immunocompromised system.
A dog can catch these infections from other dogs through direct contact with other dogs (especially if your dog goes to doggie daycare) or even sniffing where another dog has been.
Therefore, it is essential to ensure your dog gets regular vaccinations, especially if they spend time a lot outdoors.
If your dog is exposed to others or spends a lot of time outside, they might have kennel cough. It is a highly infectious disease that causes inflammation in the upper respiratory tract—symptoms include wheezing and runny eyes. Kennel cough is not life-threatening but can lead to pneumonia if left untreated.
Another possible cause of wheezing is nasal mites, which are parasites that live in dogs' nasal passages and sinuses. The nasal mites cause irritation and inflammation that causes reverse sneezing and wheezing.
Dog coughing and wheezing also manifest due to the heartworms' effects on the heart and lungs. It is spread by mosquitoes and is potentially fatal if left untreated. If you think your dog may have heartworms, it is crucial to see a veterinarian as soon as possible for treatment.
There are severe diseases that characterise as causes of dog wheezing—veterinarians will set a treatment plan to control symptoms and ease your wheezing dog. Here are a few treatments to help with your dog's wheezing and manage chronic conditions:
- Allergy - anti-inflammatory drugs and change in diet
- Ingestion of foreign body - exploratory surgery
- Bronchitis - corticosteroids
- Heart disease - medications to control symptoms, surgery, and lifestyle change
- Collapsed trachea - antibiotics, cough medication, and steroids
- Infections - antibiotics
There are plenty of things that can cause your dog to wheeze, and while they may not always be preventable, like chronic diseases—wheezing caused by inhaling a foreign object or allergy is something you can take care of with the proper steps.
Regular vaccinations, proper diet, supplements and vitamins, lifestyle changes, and a few modifications in your dog's environment are just a few things you can do to improve your pet's health.
The good thing is that there is available pet insurance to keep your dog protected from untimely sickness and also give you peace of mind from the sky-high vet bills that can come with your dog being sick or injured.