Last Updated on September 2, 2021 by Marco C.
People as well as cats can suffer from asthma pretty often. However, can dogs have asthma attacks, and what to do about them? This is an especially crucial question from Brachycephalic dog breeds such as Yorkies. Such breeds are especially susceptible to respiratory problems and complications from them.
Even a healthy brachycephalic will often have trouble breathing under certain circumstances such as heat and stress, but what happens if such a dog has asthma too? Let’s go over all you need to know about canine asthma below.
Can Dogs Have Asthma Attacks?
The bad news is that dogs can indeed have asthma attacks. The good news is that this problem is much rarer in dogs than it is in humans or in cats. However, the second bad news is that brachycephalic breeds such as Yorkies are more susceptible to asthma and complications of it than most other dogs.
Can Dogs Of All Breeds Have Asthma Attacks?
Yes, as far as we can tell. While asthma attacks are rarer in some breeds they can certainly happen to any dog out there. Besides, while the breed and genetics matter, the much greater factor seems to be the environmental conditions that can lead to your pup developing asthma.
We’ll touch on what factors play into the “Can dogs have asthma attacks?” question below. For now, suffice it to say that even a naturally susceptible breed like the Yorkie can remain perfectly healthy with the right care. And, vice versa – a more rarely afflicted breed can have serious asthma problems under the wrong conditions.
Dog Asthma Symptoms
If you’re wondering how you can tell if your dog has asthma, here are the seven main symptoms you should watch out for:
- Wheezing when breathing, even when calm
- Unusually rapid breathing, especially when physically active
- Sudden difficulties breathing
- A persistent cough, even if it doesn’t seem too threatening at first
- A general loss of energy and behavioral changes such as reduced playfulness
- Gum color change to a more blueish pink – caused by the lack of oxygen
- Appetite loss, including throwing up after eating kibble
The problem with a lot of these symptoms is that they can be caused by a lot of other health and respiratory issues as well. This is especially annoying in brachycephalic breeds like the Yorkie that can have dozens of respiratory problems.
Fortunately, veterinarians can easily identify asthma with a quick scan of your dog’s lungs. So, just watch out for these symptoms and your vet will be able to tell you what’s causing them. Your vet will also want to first rule out other health problems such as heart issues, heartworm disease, bacterial infections, and others.
What Causes Asthma In Dogs?
Asthma attacks in dogs are usually triggered by a lot of possible external stimuli. Prolonged exposure to most of these factors can lead to chronic asthma issues and the need for everyday medication. The most common causes include but are not limited to:
- Household dust
- Mold mites
- Mold spores
- Household cleaners
- Certain washing detergents
- Air fresheners
- Cigarette smoke, including pipes, e-cigarettes, and others
- General air pollution
- Litter box dust
- Cat dander (yes, your cat can be giving your dog asthma attacks)
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Limiting as many of these factors as much as possible is a crucial step for both preventing asthma attacks and reducing their intensity. Switching to a different detergent, perfume, cleaner, or air freshener can often be key for helping your dog’s asthma attacks.
Additionally, it’s believed that cat litter boxes are a big reason why cats are more susceptible to asthma attacks than dogs. And, since a lot of small dog breeds like the Yorkie are also often trained to use litter crates, this can also cause asthma attacks. Fortunately, there are brands of litter that are safe as they don’t produce any unnecessary dust.
How To Treat Asthma In Dogs?
Persistent but mild asthma is usually easy to treat. Your vet will prescribe a medication that you’ll need to administer on a daily basis. The exact type, volume, and delivery mechanism of the medication will depend on the severity of the condition.
In most mild cases, you’ll just need to give your dog a pill (or a part of a pill) in between meals. This can feel annoying at first but once you get your dog used to being given a tasteless pill, the rest should be easy. Leaving your dog to other caretakers for a while (during vacations, for example) can make medicating your pooch complicated, of course. Fortunately, most dog owners always take their dogs with them wherever they go.
If your vet tells you that your dog needs an aerosol medication, don’t worry – there are nebulizer dog inhalers that are great for dog mist treatments. In essence, they transform your dog’s meds from a liquid into mist form and all you need to do is hold a mask over your dog’s muzzle for a few minutes to inhale the medication.
This can be frustrating for the dog at first but any canine can be trained to stand still and tolerate the treatment. At least it’s easier with dogs than it is with cats.
A helpful tip for dogs with asthma is to serve their food in an elevated bowl. This helps dogs with asthma to eat and chew more easily without throwing up their food. Imagine you having to eat from the floor when you have a stuffy nose and you’re breathing out of your mouth.
For severe asthma attacks, your dog may need to be hospitalized for a while. Once in the vet’s care, the dog will likely be placed in an oxygen cage to help it breathe more easily.
The vet may also place an IV catheter to help deliver drugs and fluids into your dog’s system if need be. These meds can include steroids, bronchodilators, and others.
How Can You Prevent Dog Asthma Attacks?
The most important factor of asthma prevention is reducing the risk factors that can cause it. That, plus a general good respiratory health maintenance should ensure that your dog is as unlikely to suffer from asthma as possible. Owners of brachycephalic dogs like the Yorkie should be well-versed in all the possible respiratory issues anyway.
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