Bronchitis in Dogs

Bronchitis can make breathing difficult for your pooch and reduce their enthusiasm for exercise and fun. Here, we look at some of the causes of bronchitis in dogs, as well as the most common symptoms of the disease and what treatment looks like.

What is bronchitis?

bronchitis in people is a progressive lung disease characterized by restricted airflow both into and out of the lungs. In dogs, bronchitis is an irreversible and progressive inflammatory condition affecting the pet's respiratory system and making it difficult for your dog to breathe. bronchitis is most often diagnosed in older dogs.

What causes bronchitis in dogs?

Further research is needed to establish the exact cause of bronchitis in dogs. However, inflammation of the respiratory system can be attributed to factors like exposure to inhaled irritants (such as tobacco smoke or air pollution) or recurrent respiratory infections.

Dogs with dental issues have a higher likelihood of developing lung inflammation as bacteria from the mouth can spread to other organs, including the lungs. This can lead to secondary infections and subsequent respiratory inflammation.

It's worth noting that symptoms of bronchitis may be more pronounced in dogs that are overweight or obese.

How can I tell if my dog has bronchitis?

The initial indications of bronchitis in dogs usually involve a persistent and prolonged dry cough that persists for over a month. Occasionally, dogs with bronchitis may experience gagging episodes following coughing.

In more progressed stages, bronchitis symptoms in dogs often include:

  • Exercise intolerance (tires easily)
  • Loud or noisy breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Fainting with exertion
  • Bluish tinge to gums

How is bronchitis in dogs diagnosed?

After the initial examination, your vet will start by observing your dog for clinical signs of bronchitis before considering additional diagnostic tests. Common symptoms indicating bronchitis include a persistent cough, crackling sounds in the chest during breathing, a normal or low heart rate, and sinus arrhythmia.

What is the treatment for bronchitis in dogs?

If your dog is having significant difficulty breathing, it may be necessary to hospitalize them. During their hospital stay, a combination of oxygen therapy and intravenous medications can be utilized to help stabilize their condition.


For milder cases, your dog can receive treatment as an outpatient through a combination of medications and therapies. Some commonly used medications to assist in the treatment of bronchitis in dogs include:

  • Corticosteroids to help decrease inflammation
  • Bronchodilators to help open up the airway
  • Antibiotics to fight any underlying infection
  • Cough suppressants to treat a dry and non-productive cough
  • Mucolytics to help suppress the excessive secretion of mucus

Other Treatments

  • If your dog is diagnosed with bronchitis your vet may also recommend helping your dog to lose extra weight by changing your dog's diet or adding gentle exercise.
  • For dogs with breathing difficulties, switching from a collar to a harness can help to avoid putting extra pressure on your dog's airway.
  • Having your dog's teeth professionally cleaned can help to reduce the levels of harmful bacteria in your pet's mouth and may help to prevent a number of serious health conditions.
  • Since exposure to inhaled irritants often plays a key role in bronchitis, avoiding these irritants may help your dog to breathe more easily and reduce the chance of your dog experiencing a relapse.
  • In some cases supportive therapies such as supplements and antioxidants may be recommended.

How long can a dog live with bronchitis?

Even though bronchitis in dogs is a condition that cannot be reversed and tends to worsen over time, with proper treatment and regular vet checkups, the symptoms can be effectively managed. This allows your pet to have a normal life expectancy and enjoy a good quality of life.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your dog is suffering from bronchitis, chronic bronchitis, or other ongoing breathing difficulties, contact our Sacramento veterinary team right away.