A dog with mouth open and tongue hanging out

Darlene with Asthma






in your Dog

Author, Noelle Dunn for Professional Pet Sitting Etc.

Did you know that an asthma attack in your dog is a protective response? It’s true.  While an asthma attack is very scary to witness, and with good reason as it’s deadly, it’s also a clear indicator that your dog  is being exposed to  a dangerous allergen.  As a response, the bronchiole closes up in order to protect the lungs. Additionally, asthma attacks are just as prevalent in the winter as in other times of year and sometimes even more so. The good news is that asthma attacks are preventable or at the very least manageable.

So, you might be wondering how you detect asthma in your dog. 

There are a variety of signs that your dog may be suffering from an asthmatic response.  Most notably and easily recognizable are shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing.  You should also be on the lookout for rapid or shallow breathing, lethargy, bluish gums, low tolerance for any form of physical exertion and even a loss of appetite.   Any single symptom or combination of symptoms should be immediately brought to the attention of your dog’s veterinary doctor.  As mentioned above, and just like in their human counterparts, it only takes one asthma attack to result in death.  The earlier the diagnosis, the better.

Diagnosing asthma in your dog is fairly straight forward. 

Your dog’s vet will discuss symptoms with you, so be prepared to discuss the circumstances under which your pet suffers from the symptoms as well as his health history.  If you know or suspect any specific triggers, be prepared to discuss those as well.  Your vet will examine your dog thoroughly and may also order x-rays of your dog’s lungs as well as blood work.  When diagnosing asthma, keep in mind that it may be necessary for the vet to rule out other diseases that present similar symptoms.  This can be a frustrating process but, ask questions a lot of questions and most importantly, stay calm.

Finding the trigger of your dog’s asthma will be of great importance.  Identifying the trigger or triggers provides the potential of completely eliminating or greatly reducing future asthma attacks.   This can be quite tricky and is often one of the most frustrating parts of the process.  It’s not always easy to put your finger on the culprit!

While not all inclusive, here are some common triggers:

  • Exercise
  • Dry air
  • Cold air
  • Dust
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Cigar smoke
  • Wood burning stoves
  • fireplaces
  • carpet cleaners
  • floor cleaning products
  • air fresheners
  • deodorizers

Many vets suggest that you keep a doggie diary to notate when and under what circumstances your dog suffers from an asthma attack.  You should also note the frequency and severity of the attacks.  Taking good notes will help you narrow down the triggers and thereby help you to reduce future exposure.

While working with you and your dog to put a proper treatment plan in place, you must remain patient.  It’s not a “one size fits all” process.  It’s takes some trial and error, sometimes, to find the best plan for your dog.  Your dog’s vet may suggest a plan that involves the use of some or all of the following: antihistamines, oxygen therapy, steroids and/or bronchodilators.

As always, remain patient during the process and remember, it’s always ok to seek second and third opinions! Follow your gut and advocate for your dog the best way you know how – after all, you are all he has.  Be his voice.



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Dorinne Whynott, is a long time animal professional.  She is a successful business owner establishing one of the largest pet sitting companies in New Hampshire since 1990. Click to Read her complete History. 

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