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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Chronic Bronchitis

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Condition Overview

This disease affects middle-aged dogs of both sexes. if left unchecked, chronic bronchitis damages the airways and leads to the accumulation of infected mucus and pus in dilated bronchi. This is called bronchiectasis.

Symptoms

It is characterized by an acute inflammatory reaction of the interior of the smaller airways. Chronic bronchitis should be considered whenever a cough persists for more than two months.

The defining characteristic of chronic bronchitis is a harsh, dry cough that may or may not be productive. Coughing is triggered by exercise and excitement. Episodes often end with gagging, retching, and the expectoration of foamy saliva. This can be mistake for vomiting. The dog's appetite ans weight are well maintained.

Causes

In most cases the cause is unknown. Although some cases are preceded by kennel cough, infectious agents usually do not play a role except as secondary invaders. House dust, cigarette smoke, and other atmospheric irritants contribute to bronchial inflammation.

Diagnosis

The diagnostic workup of a dog with bronchitis includes a chest X-ray and transtracheal washings. Washings are cells obtained by flushing the trachea with saline solution. This can be done with a sterile tube passed down the trachea while the dog is sedated, or by direct penetration of the trachea through the skin of the neck using a needle and catheter. The washings are processed for cytology and bacterial culture.

Bronchoscopy is particularly useful in the investigation of chronic coughs and coughs with the production of mucus and blood. The procedure requires sedation or general anesthesia. A rigid or flexible endoscope is passed into the trachea and bronchi. This enables the veterinarian to see the interior of the respiratory tract. Biopsies can be taken with accuracy, and washings collected for examination and culture. Bronchoscopy is also the procedure of choice for removing bronchial foreign bodies.

Treatment

General measures include eliminating atmospheric pollutants such as dust and cigarette smoke. Minimize stress, fatigue, ans excitement. Overweight dogs should be put on a weight loss diet. Walking on a leash is good exercise, but keep it to a reasonable measure for the dogs particular condition. To avoid pressure on the larynx, switch from a collar to a chest harness or head halter.

Medical management is directed toward reducing bronchial inflammation. Your veterinarian may prescribe a course of corticosteroids for 10 - 14 days. If this is beneficial, the dog may be placed on a maintenance dose given daily or every other day. Bronchodilators such as theophylline or albuterol relax the breathing passages and reduce respiratory fatigue. They are beneficial for dogs with associated wheezing and airway spasms.

If the cough gets worse there is probably a secondary bacterial infection. Seek veterinary attention, because antibiotics will be required. Cough suppressants are beneficial for episodes of exhaustive coughing, but should be used for short periods only, as they interfere with host defenses and prevent the elimination of purulent secretions. Expectorants can be used as often as needed.

The response to treatment varies. Some dogs make a near-normal recovery, while others require frequent medication adjustments.

Prevention

There is no prevention for this condition.

Support

Please contact your veterinarian if you have regarding the frequency or severity of your dogs cough.

Show Sources & Contributors +

Sources

Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook

Publisher: Wiley Publishing, 2007

Website: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/

Authors: Debra M. Eldredge, Liisa D. Carlson, Delbert G. Carlson, James M. Giffen MD

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