Has your dog or cat been diagnosed with pneumonia?
Whether your pet has a mild cough or is struggling to breathe, your vet should take thoracic radiographs (chest x-rays) to view the lungs. These images give us vital information about what is happening within the chest. It can reveal an enlarged heart, lung inflammation or infection, fluid or air in the chest where it is not supposed to be, and even masses.
In the images below you'll see the lung fields outlined in white with the major structures labeled.
In the image on the left, the normal chest x-ray, the lungs are nice and dark/black in color. You can see the heart outlined because it is denser than the surround lungs. On the image on the right, however, it is extremely difficult to see the outline of the heart and the lung fields are 'whited out'. This is what a pneumonia radiograph looks like.
Pneumonia is described as an infection that causes inflammation in the lungs. This may be in one or many of the lung lobes. Pneumonia can be caused by bacteria, viruses, fungal, protozoal, or parasite infections. The air sacs, or alveoli, of the lungs fill up with fluid or pus. (Want a refresher on anatomy? Visit the respiratory page here.)
Common causes of pneumonia include:
Sometimes a pet may prescribed an antibiotic and it may not work, or it stops working. In this case it may be recommended to have a bronchoscopy and alveolar lavage to see what is in the lungs and to get a sample for cytology and culture. This procedure is done under general anesthesia. A bronchoscopy is when a scope is entered into the trachea, bronchi, and bronchioles and using video the veterinarian can see if there is inflammation, secretions, foreign bodies, and then using the scope a small amount of sterile saline is infused into the lungs and then sucked back out. This sample is then used for cytology (looking at the cells) and culture to see what type of infectious agent is causing the problems. This is a specialized procedure and your primary veterinarian may recommend a consult with a specialist.
They have pneumonia, so now what?
The most common respiratory infection in dogs is Bordetella spp., also known as kennel cough. It is a transmissible infection between dogs and can be easily acquired by dogs similar to a cold for people. For most dogs that get Bordetella they have a cough that lingers for a few weeks and then goes away with minimal treatment.
Older dogs, young puppies, or dogs with a decreased immune system can catch Bordetella and it can turn into a serious, or potentially fatal, pneumonia.
Treatment for infections include antibiotics or antifungals and sometimes cough suppressants. If the pneumonia is severe enough hospitalization on IV fluids, IV antibiotics, and sometimes oxygen supplementation is needed. Repeat chest radiographs every few days can help show the progress of the pneumonia.
After your pet is able to breath regular room air and they are taking medications orally, they will be transitioned home.
Your vet may recommend nebulization and coupage to help break up the secretions in the lungs and get them out. This can be accomplished with a nubulizer like the Omron CompAir Nebulizer System NE-C801 available from Just Nebulizers.com, or by placing your pet in the bathroom while a hot shower is running. The steam from the shower can help loosen phlegm and help your pet cough up the secretions. If you would like more information about nebulization, check out this article on Veterinary Partner.
After the nebulization or steam therapy the next step is coupage. Coupage is the act of cupping your hands and then gently percussing, or gently hitting on both sides of your pets chest. This helps to break down and loosen the secretions in the lungs and allowing your pet to cough it up. Here is a video to demonstrate how to do coupage. Your vet will recommend how frequently and for how long they recommend doing this.
It is important to keep in contact with your veterinarian to make sure the treatment plan is working for your pet. If you feel they are getting worse a follow up visit to the vet is best.
If you can not be seen at your primary vet and your pet is struggling to breathe, (gasping, their mucous membranes go from happy pink to purple, blue, or even grey, they pass out) bring your pet to the vet immediately. This may mean a trip to the emergency room if your vet is not open.
We hope this helps you understand what pneumonia is in dogs and cats. Please let us know what you think about the article in the comments below.
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Have you wondered how the lungs work? What about the different structures that are all part of the respiratory system? Has your pet been diagnosed with an upper or lower respiratory disease?
May is all about basics and diseases affecting dogs and cats breathing. We start with basic anatomy and then we'll talk about some of the common diseases we see in veterinary internal medicine.
Check out the basics in our newest section of the website: the Respiratory System. The main page includes a video explaining how dogs and cats lungs work. It's based on people, but we're all mammals and our lungs work the same way. Visit the respiratory section to see this fun video.
Then watch for each of the week's topics including:
We hope this helps. If you think someone you know might be interested in the topics we cover, we'd love if you share the website with them!
Nothing gets us out of bed faster than the sound of retching in the middle of the night!
But what about those times stuff just flies out of their mouths like in the movie "The Exorcist"? (You know the scene we're talking about: split pea soup!)
We know, it's not our favorite thing to talk about but it's important to know the difference between vomiting and regurgitating.
That Retching Sound
The Pet Health Journal: A 6 Month Journal For Medications, Exams, & Healthy Living was officially published this week!
We're so excited to share this work book with you and hope you get a chance to see it in person. If you live near Ashley or Yvonne, you've probably seen the proof copies because we've been carrying them around everywhere with us the last few weeks!!!
If you'd like a journal of your very own, visit Amazon and grab a copy today! We'll be setting up with additional online retailers in the next week or so, so keep a look out for the Pet Health Journal at your favorite retailer.
We are also making the Pet Health Journal available for wholesale to veterinary clinics and hospitals, so if you think your veterinarian might want to carry it have them send us an email at email@example.com and we'll get them set up.
We want to give a big thank you to everyone who helped get the Pet Health Journal finished.
We hope this journal helps pets and their families live a happier, healthier life together.
Heartworm disease is what is called a vector borne disease. What this means is that a vector, in this case a mosquito, transmits or gives the disease to the animal through a blood meal.
When the mosquito is feeding on your dog or cats’ blood, they are simultaneously injecting an immature form of heartworm! It is caused by the nematode (small worm) parasite, Dirofilaria immitus. We abbreviate their name as D. immitus.
When these immature heartworms, or larvae enter the body they start to grow and mature. Depending on whether they enter a dog or cat, as to when the problems will start to occur.
Dogs are what is called the ‘definitive or natural’ host for heartworms, cats on the other hand are known as ‘aberrant’ hosts. Because of this, the disease behaves very differently in each of these host species.
Dogs and Heartworm Disease
Let’s first look at heartworm disease in dogs, the natural host. All canid species can become infected with heartworm disease, that means not only the neighborhood dogs, but the foxes, coyotes and wolves (yikes!). If you have mosquitos in your yard, you have heartworm disease!
We're so excited to start 2019 with big plans for the year. Thank you for joining us since we launched in August. We hope the information we're providing is helping you and your family live happier, healthier lives.
What we accomplished in 2018
2018 was a learning year for IMFPP. We launched the website in August and since then have been working hard at creating weekly blog posts as well as creating the disease pages.
Our weekly blog post has been a place of pride for us. We're working hard to ensure it is released every Thursday morning and has the highest quality information. We've had some amazing contributing authors and plan to keep bringing you the best we can.
Currently the pages that have the most information are the urinary, endocrine, liver, hematology, and immunology. These pages are not 100% complete, but most of the basics are there. As we continue to grow, these pages will continue to be fleshed out.
We're excited to have grown our newsletter list to over 100 subscribers! Everyone on our list got a copy of our Weekly Treatment Tracker and we've heard great feedback on it. Thank you so much to everyone that's joined us so far. If you'd like to join here's the link: Subscribe Now!
In the background we've been working on the nitty-gritty details to set up our business for the growth we have planned in the future.
Plans for 2019
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This website is NOT a substitute for veterinary care with a veterinarian. We recommend you follow the advice and treatment plan as prescribed by your veterinarian, and only after discussing anything found on this website with your veterinarian, with their approval, implementing advice found here.
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