Can Dogs Have Asthma?

Can Dogs Have Asthma?

Respiratory issues are common in both humans and animals, including dogs. One condition that is frequently seen in humans is asthma, a chronic respiratory disorder characterized by inflammation and constriction of the airways. But can dogs also suffer from asthma? Many pet owners may have this question, and it’s important to understand the potential signs, causes, and treatments for asthma in dogs.

Asthma in dogs is also known as “canine allergic bronchitis” or “allergic airway disease.” While it is not as common as in humans, it is still a significant health concern for some dogs. It is estimated that around 1% of all dogs in the United States suffer from asthma, and certain breeds are more predisposed to the condition.

Like in humans, the exact cause of asthma in dogs is not fully understood. However, it is believed to be an immune-mediated disorder, where the body’s immune system overreacts to certain triggers, leading to inflammation and constriction of the airways. These triggers can include allergens such as pollen, dust, mold, and cigarette smoke, as well as exercise, stress, and respiratory infections.

Can Dogs Have Asthma?Can Dogs Have Asthma?

Yes, dogs can have asthma. Asthma is a respiratory condition caused by inflammation and narrowing of the airways. This affects a dog’s ability to breathe properly and can cause symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing.

What is Asthma in Dogs?

Asthma in dogs is a chronic respiratory condition that causes inflammation and narrowing of the airways, leading to difficulty breathing. It is similar to the condition in humans, but the triggers and treatment may differ in dogs. Asthma can range from mild to severe and can be managed with proper treatment and care. Dog owners need to be aware of the signs and symptoms of asthma in their pets and work closely with their veterinarian for proper management. 

What Does A Dog Asthma Attack Look Like?

A dog asthma attack can have varying symptoms, but some common signs to look out for include wheezing, coughing, and difficulty breathing. Your dog may also have a rapid or shallow breathing pattern and may seem anxious or distressed during the attack. In some cases, your dog may also have a bluish tinge to their gums and tongue due to lack of oxygen. It is also possible for a dog with asthma to experience vomiting, lethargy, and loss of appetite during an attack. If you suspect your dog is having an asthma attack, it is important to seek veterinary care immediately.

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What Causes Asthma in Dogs?Asthma 1

Asthma in dogs is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Some dog breeds, such as pugs, bulldogs, and Boston terriers, are more prone to developing asthma due to their narrow airways and flat faces. Exposure to environmental allergens, such as dust, pollen, and mold, may also trigger asthma in dogs. Other potential causes include respiratory infections, exercise, stress, and exposure to smoke or strong scents. Additionally, certain medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can also cause asthma or worsen existing symptoms.

How is Asthma Diagnosed in Dogs?

Asthma is typically diagnosed in dogs through a combination of physical exams, medical history, and diagnostic tests. A veterinarian will first examine the dog and look for symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing, and exercise intolerance. They will also ask for a detailed medical history and any potential triggers for the dog’s respiratory symptoms.

The most common diagnostic tests for asthma in dogs include:

  • Chest X-rays: X-rays can help identify any abnormalities in the lungs or airways.
  • Blood tests: Blood tests can help identify any underlying medical conditions or infections that may be causing respiratory symptoms.
  • Bronchoscopy: This involves passing a thin, flexible tube with a camera through the nose or mouth and into the airways to check for inflammation or other abnormalities.
  • Pulmonary function tests: These tests measure the dog’s lung function and can help determine the severity of the asthma.
  • Fecal examination: In some cases, parasites can cause symptoms that mimic asthma, so a fecal examination may be done to rule out any parasitic infections.
  • Allergy testing: If allergies are suspected to be the cause of the dog’s asthma, skin or blood allergy tests may be performed to identify the specific allergens.

Symptoms of Asthma in Dogs

  • Wheezing and Coughing: One of the most common symptoms of asthma in dogs is wheezing and coughing. This is caused by inflammation and narrowing of the airway, making it difficult for your dog to breathe properly. The wheezing sound can sometimes be mistaken for a hairball cough, so it is important to pay attention to the frequency and severity of the cough.
  • Difficulty Breathing: As the airways become more inflamed and narrow, your dog may start to show signs of difficulty breathing. This can include increased respiratory rate, shallow or rapid breathing, and breathing with an open mouth. In severe cases, your dog may struggle to get enough air, leading to rapid and labored breathing.
  • Sneezing and Nasal Discharge: While not as common as wheezing and coughing, some dogs with asthma may also experience sneezing and nasal discharge. This is usually a result of inflammation and irritation in the nasal passages and sinuses. The discharge may be clear or have a yellow or green color if there is an infection present.
  • Lethargy and Exercise Intolerance: Difficulty breathing can also cause your dog to become lethargic and have a decreased interest in exercise. This is because their lungs are not functioning at full capacity, making it harder for them to engage in physical activity. Asthma can also cause fatigue and weakness due to the decreased oxygen flow to the body.
  • Blue Lips or Gums: In severe cases of asthma, your dog may not be getting enough oxygen, which can cause their lips or gums to turn blue. This is a serious symptom and requires immediate veterinary attention.
  • Frequent Vomiting: Some dogs with asthma may also experience frequent vomiting. This is often caused by coughing and wheezing irritating the throat and stomach, leading to nausea and vomiting.
  • Loss of Appetite: The difficulty breathing and other symptoms associated with asthma can also cause your dog to lose their appetite. This is especially concerning if it persists for more than a day or two, as dogs need proper nutrition to support their respiratory health.

Dog Asthma TreatmentASTHMA 2

  • Use medication: In most cases, your veterinarian will prescribe medication to help manage your dog’s asthma symptoms. This may include inhaled bronchodilators, steroids, or anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • Remove environmental triggers: If your dog’s asthma is triggered by certain allergens or irritants, it’s important to remove these from their environment. This may include smoke, dust, pollen, or pollution.
  • Keep your dog calm: Stress and anxiety can worsen asthma symptoms, so it’s important to keep your dog calm and relaxed. Avoid high-stress situations and try to create a peaceful environment for your dog.
  • Use a humidifier: Dry air can aggravate asthma symptoms, so using a humidifier in your home can help keep the air moist and reduce your dog’s symptoms.
  • Avoid exercise during flare-ups: If your dog is experiencing a flare-up of their asthma, it’s important to avoid strenuous activity or exercise. This can put additional strain on their respiratory system and make their symptoms worse.
  • Consider alternative therapies: Some dog owners have found success in managing their dog’s asthma with alternative therapies such as acupuncture, herbal remedies, or essential oils. However, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian before trying any of these methods.

Benadryl for Dog Asthma

Dog allergies are very common and can cause respiratory problems as well as itching and discomfort. One medication that is commonly used to treat dog asthma caused by allergies is Benadryl.

Benadryl (also known by its generic name diphenhydramine) is an antihistamine that works by blocking the effects of histamine, a chemical that is released by the body during an allergic reaction. By blocking histamine, Benadryl can help reduce the symptoms of dog asthma, such as inflammation and narrowing of the airways.

Benadryl can be given to dogs in several forms, including tablets, capsules, liquid, and even as an injection. It is important to consult with your veterinarian before giving your dog Benadryl, as dosages may vary based on your dog’s weight, age, and medical history.

While Benadryl can help manage the symptoms of dog asthma, it is important to identify and address the underlying allergens that may be triggering your dog’s asthma.

How Can I Treat My Dog’s Asthma at Home?

  • Identify and Avoid Triggers: Asthma attacks in dogs can be triggered by various factors such as dust, smoke, pollen, and allergies. Identify the triggers that cause your dog’s asthma and try to avoid them as much as possible.
  • Keep Your Dog’s Environment Clean: Regularly clean your dog’s living environment to reduce the chances of asthma triggers. This includes vacuuming carpets and upholstery, washing bedding, and using air purifiers.
  • Use a Humidifier: Adding moisture to the air can help ease your dog’s asthma symptoms. Consider using a humidifier in your dog’s living area to keep the air moist.
  • Bath Your Dog: If your dog’s asthma is triggered by allergies, bathing him can help remove any irritants from his skin and coat.
  • Provide Fresh Air: Make sure your dog’s living area is well-ventilated and let him spend some time outdoors in fresh air. This can help improve his breathing and overall health.
  • Try Natural Remedies: Several natural remedies can help ease your dog’s asthma symptoms such as honey, ginger, and turmeric. Consult with your veterinarian before trying these remedies.
  • Keep Your Dog’s Weight Under Control: Overweight dogs are more prone to asthma attacks. Keep your dog on a healthy diet and make sure he gets enough exercise to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Don’t Smoke in Your Dog’s Presence: Secondhand smoke can trigger asthma attacks in dogs. If you or anyone in your household smokes, it’s important to do so far away from your dog or to quit altogether.

SEE ALSO: Why Do Dogs Like Belly Rubs?


Q. How do you know if a dog has asthma?

A. You will if your dog has asthma if you notice coughing, wheezing, and constantly being out of breath.

Q. How do you treat a dog with asthma?

A. Asthma inhalers may be prescribed in some cases such as Albuterol sulfate.

Q. Can dogs die from asthma?

A. Yes, asthma can lead to major complications including death if not properly treated.

Q. Can dogs have asthma inhalers?

A. Yes, inhalers fitted with masks designed specifically for dogs may be prescribed to help administer your dog’s asthma meds.


In conclusion, while dogs can experience respiratory issues similar to asthma, they may not technically have asthma like humans do. Dogs may exhibit symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing, but the underlying causes and treatments may differ from humans with asthma.

Pet owners need to pay attention to their dog’s respiratory health and seek veterinary care if they suspect their dog may be experiencing respiratory problems. Proper diagnosis and treatment can help improve a dog’s breathing and overall well-being.

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