Upper Respiratory Infection

Upper respiratory infection is very common in dogs with compromised immune systems. It is estimated that every dog will have an upper respiratory infection at least once in their lifetime. These infections can affect the bronchi, trachea, throat, and nasal cavities. 

Commonly caused by contagious bacteria and viruses, an upper respiratory infection will thrive in shelters, kennels, dogs sharing a space. This infection is extremely hard to treat in dogs and often results in relapses. 

The common cold, often affecting humans, has similar symptoms to an upper respiratory infection in dogs. Sore throat, runny nose, and coughing are included. It is imperative that your dog receive veterinary treatment the moment symptoms arise. 

Take a look at the symptoms, causes, and treatments of an upper respiratory infection in dogs.

The Symptoms

Depending on the cause of the infections, the symptoms may vary. The symptoms are often similar to what humans experience when they have a cold. If these or other realted symptoms are visible in your dog, it is best to get them treated at your nearest vet as soon as possible. 

Symptoms to look out for are:

  • Nasal discharge
  • Eye discharge
  • Fever
  • Itchy nose
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing, snorting, and wheezing
  • Gagging 
  • Retching
  • Dry nose
  • Drooling or foaming at the mouth
  • Ulcers of the mouth and nose
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Dehydration
  • Lethargy
  • Exercise intolerance

The Causes

Upper Respiratory Infection | Healthier Pets Today

An upper respiratory infection can be caused by any of the many bacteria or viruses in the world. If your animals have a weak of compromised immune system, older dogs, and puppies are more at risk for upper respiratory infections. 

The most common bacteria known to cause upper respiratory infections is Bordetella bronchiseptica. Bordetella bronchiseptica is closely related to the Bordetella pertussis bacteria, known for causing whooping cough in humans. 

This bacteria is known to spread between dogs through coughing, clothing, as well as shared water bowls. E Coli, staph and strep infections are amongst the common secondary infections that the bacteria is known to lead to if left untreated. Puppies may develop bronchopneumonia. 

The infection…

Viruses such as distemper, adenovirus, and influenza are among those that can cause upper respiratory infections. Viral causes of upper respiratory infection is parainfluenza. These viruses may cause severe damage to the respiratory system as well as lead to airway disease.

Viruses and bacteria aren’t the only ones known for causing upper respiratory infections. Some parasites can be just as guilty of causing the infection. Canine nasal mites, or in scientific terms, pneumonyssoides caninum, are known to cause a number of symptoms as well as leave dogs open to secondary infections. 

Lung flukes can be found living inside pulmonary cysts in the lungs; they are known to cause the same symptoms as an upper respiratory infection. Lung flukes, however, are extremely rare as they are transmitted by eating crayfish. 

The Treatments

Upper Respiratory Infection | Healthier Pets Today

Treating an upper respiratory infection often begins with prevention. The diseases that are known to cause upper respiratory infections can be vaccinated against. Vaccinations may even help in reducing the symptoms of diseases that have no vaccines available. 

An example of the above-mentioned is when a dog has been vaccinated against Bordetella, it’ll have less severe symptoms of influenza. Respiratory infections can last anything from 5 to 10 days and may require no treatment other than frequent hydration and nourishment. 

Antibiotics are oftentimes prescribed to help fight off a respiratory infection. Doxycycline is a common drug often prescribed to help fight off Bordetella. Azithromycin is a more powerful drug and is often used if doxycycline has failed.

Along with medications, vets may prescribe nose drops, rest, and plenty of water in order to help dogs recover. Intravenous fluids, as well as nutritional supplements, may be provided in severe cases.

Upper Respiratory Infection: The Takeaway

If your dog has been infected, they are required to stay away from other animals to ensure that the disease does not spread. Upper respiratory infections often affect dogs at least once in their lives. Therefore, it is best to take your dog to a vet as soon as symptoms of an upper respiratory infection present themselves.