Pneumonia in Dogs: What You Need to Know - The Trupanion Blog
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Pneumonia in Dogs: What You Need to Know

What you need to know about pneumonia in dogs.

An infection can affect a pet in a variety of ways. Some pets may get an infection or a cold and feel better after a few days. However, with a medical condition like pneumonia in dogs, the illness can start and progress rather quickly. With travel and cold weather in full swing, we wanted to create a pet owner’s guide to pneumonia in hopes that it may be helpful to your furry friends. Read on to learn more about pneumonia in dogs from Trupanion veterinarian Dr. Caroline Wilde.

A pet owner’s guide to pneumonia in dogs

Discover what pneumonia in dogs is and how to spot the signs.

What is pneumonia?

No pet owner wants to hear that their pet is sick. Wild breaks down what pneumonia is and how it can affect your furry family members here:

“When referring to pneumonia, we’re most commonly referring to a deep infection of the lungs that is bacterial, viral, or fungal, and can rarely be associated with parasitic or protozoal infection. This infection causes inflammation and fluid buildup in the airways, leading to a cough, and can progress to severe difficulty breathing. Pneumonia can be life-threatening in severe cases.”

If your dog is showing any signs of a cough or difficulty breathing, please seek medical care immediately. In addition, your veterinarian can determine the severity of pneumonia and start treatment.

If your dog has pneumonia they may need:

Hospitalization may be required if your dog has pneumonia. Pneumonia in dogs: you may need emergency are if your dog has pneumonia. Pneumonia in dogs: antibiotics may be prescribed. DIagnostic testing may be performed if your dog has pneumonia.
HospitalizationEmergency Care Antibiotics Diagnostic testing

How do dogs get pneumonia?

As a responsible pet owner, you want to know how your dog may get pneumonia. As with any medical condition, there are a variety of ways a pet might contract an illness. Consider the following list by Wilde:

  • Bacterial and viral types of pneumonia are generally transmitted through aerosol exposure (liquid droplets in respiratory secretions from coughing or sneezing) from other dogs, which can occur when dogs are in close proximity, such as at the dog park, or at a boarding facility. Aerosols can travel up to 20 feet! People can also act as “fomites”, carrying these infectious agents on their hands and clothes after contact or being in close proximity with an infected dog. Upper respiratory tract infections when left untreated can sometimes progress to pneumonia.
  • Fungal pneumonia most often occurs when dogs inhale spores in the environment.
  • Aspiration pneumonia can occur when contents from the gastrointestinal tract (ie vomit, food, water) inadvertently go down the respiratory tract. This generally occurs in combination with another underlying condition, including severe vomiting, dilation of the esophagus, and laryngeal paralysis.
  • Any pet that is debilitated due to other health issues is at higher risk for developing pneumonia, as are pediatric and geriatric dogs and cats. Short-nosed dogs, such as Bulldogs, are also at higher risk due to airway conformation. Dogs with other underlying respiratory conditions, such as chronic bronchitis, can develop secondary pneumonia.

Because of this, it’s very important to be mindful of your pet whether you’re traveling or at your local dog park. Especially if you have a senior dog or a furry friend with a medical condition.

Signs of pneumonia in dogs

It may be hard to know if your dog has pneumonia, as it can be contracted in a variety of ways. Wilde indicates some of the more common signs of pneumonia.

Signs of pneumonia in dogs:

  • Coughing
  • Lethargy
  • Nasal discharge
  • Decreased appetite
  • Fever
  • Difficulty breathing

Also, “the cough is often a moist, deep cough that may or may not be productive,” says Wilde. Whether your furry family member shows one sign or multiple, please seek the expertise of your veterinarian.

For an additional resource on dogs and colds, read the guide here.

Trupanion claims data

We spoke with Trupanion data analyst, Malia Prescott to learn more insight on dog pneumonia claims and breeds.

“With 10,672 pneumonia claims the average claimed amount was $951.34. The average amount that the Trupanion policy paid was $614.46. Also, French Bulldogs and English Bulldogs claim more often than other dog breeds. In addition, the highest claimed amount was upwards of $49,015.01.”

Treatment plan

Treatment is essential for the wellness of your furry family member. Fortunately, the medical care that is available to pets is extraordinary in 2020.

Wilde breaks own the treatment plan from diagnostic tests to therapies.

“If your dog develops a cough, they should be taken to the veterinarian for evaluation. Also, the veterinarian can listen to their lungs and make appropriate diagnostic recommendations. Listening to the lungs can also help determine where in the respiratory tract the cough is originating. Feeling the throat and checking the lymph nodes will also help in evaluating a dog with a cough. Pneumonia is diagnosed with x-rays and treatment varies with the severity of the case. In uncomplicated cases, they can go home with antibiotics. In severe cases, they may require hospitalization with supplemental oxygen, intravenous antibiotics, and fluid therapy. Antibiotic and antifungal therapy is generally a longer course depending on the specific cause of pneumonia.”

Pneumonia can pop up with little to no notice.

“When Ruger was still a puppy, he had a reverse sneeze that turned into pneumonia. He’s never one to show any signs—he was still drinking, eating, playing, and ripping up couch pillows, so we didn’t know how sick he was and thought his sneeze was seasonal allergies.”

Learn more about Ruger’s Story here.

Pneumonia in dogs: any dog of any age can get despite the season.

Your dog may get pneumonia at any age or during any season. But as long as you are mindful of your pet, seek the care of your veterinarian, and stick to your pet’s treatment plan, without a doubt your best friend will be well and ready to play in no time at all.

To learn more on dog care, read Cold Weather and Arthritis in Dogs: A Pet Owner Guide

Terms and conditions do apply. We love informed decisions. See our policy for full coverage details.

Trupanion is a registered trademark owned by Trupanion, Inc. Underwritten in Canada by Omega General Insurance Company and in the United States by American Pet Insurance Company, 6100-4th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98108. Please visit to review all available pet health insurance.

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