Treating dog pneumonia at home is not impossible, but it requires close monitoring and the accompanying use of medications prescribed by the vet. Pneumonia in dogs is a serious condition that occurs when the air sacs in one or both lungs become inflamed and infected. When these air sacs fill up with fluid or pus, then a multitude of symptoms start popping up causing dogs to feel quite miserable. Pneumonia in dogs can be caused by several organisms such as bacteria, viruses and fungi. Because pneumonia is a serious condition, it’s important to seek assistance from your vet before trying natural ways for treating dog pneumonia at home.
Pneumonia in Dogs
Pneumonia in dogs is a condition that commonly develops secondary to other health problems. For instance, dogs suffering from kennel cough or canine influenza, may develop pneumonia as a complication of these conditions.
Dogs can also develop pneumonia from aspirating food or water into their lungs or they may aspirate stomach or esophageal contents (vomit, regurgitation). In this case, the aspirated material causes a bacterial infection.
Aspiration pneumonia occurs in dogs with a compromised gag reflex and therefore is more likely to happen in dogs that are sedated or coming out of anesthesia, debilitated dogs in a weakened state, dogs suffering from laryngeal paralysis or megaesophagus.
Treating Dog Pneumonia at Home
Pneumonia in dogs is a serious health issue, but dogs equipped with a strong immune system and provided with antibiotics and supportive care by caring owners trying natural ways for treating dog pneumonia at home, have a good chance of coming through it. The most vulnerable dogs are very young pups and senior dogs would may have a harder time due to more vulnerable immune systems.
Did you know? A study found that long-term treatment with H2 blockers (Pepcid) or proton pump inhibitors (Prilosec) can trigger a predisposition to pneumonia due to colonization with enteric bacteria considering that such drugs increase gastric pH.
When a dog has pneumonia, there is inflammation and therefore increased secretions which may often be extremely viscous and difficult to cough up. Productive coughing is important and therefore, it’s fundamental that the secretions are as liquid as possible. Since more than 90% of the mucus in a dog’s respiratory tract is water, it’s important to keep the dog as hydrated as possible. Fluid therapy by the vet is ideal, but at home, dog owners will need to find ways to encourage drinking.
A nice way to hydrate and encourage drinking is to give some plain, low-sodium broth (with no onion or garlic) to a dog’s food. Adding some chicken broth to a dog’s food is an idea, suggests veterinarian Dr. Karen.
Steam From the Shower
Humans are often instructed to use nebulizers and inhale the steam, but how can one get a dog to be so collaborative to allow us to funnel the steam to his snout for so long? Not all dogs will do that, but for those who tolerate it, a nebulizer can turn helpful.
For the not-so-collaborative dogs, there is an easy solution. If your dog has pneumonia, it may be beneficial to simply run the hot water in a closed bathroom until there’s a lot of steam. Then, the dog can be placed in the bathroom with the shower running for a few minutes.
The steam will penetrate the lungs and help soften up material so that it can be easier to bring up. Since, resolution of pneumonia for a great extent relies on clearance of secretions from the airway by coughing (avoid cough supressants!), it’s important that the secretions remain liquid and easy to bring up.
“Importantly, cough suppressants should NOT be used to treat animals with bacterial pneumonia. Instead, the goal should be to encourage cough and subsequent removal of infected sputum.”~Dr. Leah A. Cohn, DVM
Benefits of Coupage
Some coupage, which consists of lightly pounding the sides of a dog’s chest just behind the point of the elbows with cupped hands, following a shower, may help break up some material. Have your vet demonstrate how to do this so that you know how to do it right. Coupage helps stimulate the cough reflex and helps break up secretions. Best to do it after exposing the dog to hot steam or a neublizer. Perform coupage several times a day, especially if your dog doesn’t move around much. Below is a video on how to do coupage on a dog.
” You coupage for 5-10 seconds then take breaks to let her cough up any debris. Do this for 5-10 minutes and do it every 6-8 hours for 5-7 days. “~Dr. Gary, veterinarian
Encourage Mild Exercise
Exercise can help encourage coughing and therefore getting rid of secretions. Some short walks combined with frequent turning of dogs who are lying down can help encourage clearance of sputum, further explains veterinarian Dr. Cohn. Puppies and dogs with pneumonia should not lie down in one place for extended periods of time.
Watch the Respiratory Rate
The normal respiratory rate in dogs is about 20 to 30 breaths a minute. If your dog has pneumonia, it’s a good idea keeping an eye on your dog’s respiratory rate as those numbers may double. Here’s an easy way to count your dog’s breaths per minute. Simply count the number of times your dog’s flanks (the area in front of your dog’s back legs, on the side of her belly) move in a minute. If that seems too long, you can take a shortcut and count how many times your dog’ s flanks move for 15 seconds and then multiply that number by 4.
If your dog’s breathing seems to be getting more labored, you notice increased coughing and green or blood tinged discharge from the nose and your dog has blue-tinged gums, then see your vet immediately.