Symptoms of pneumonia in dogs

Symptoms of pneumonia in dogs

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Symptoms of pneumonia in dogs

Most dogs have mild flu-like symptoms, with an average fever of 101.4°F (38.2°C). Some dogs do not have fever, and may have only a runny nose, cough, or shortness of breath. Young puppies may have a very high fever and diarrhea (sometimes bloody) while the mother is carrying them. If the infection is severe, respiratory distress may be evident and a pulse may be weak.

Pneumonia often begins with mild to moderate symptoms. However, it may spread to other organs. Symptoms that indicate the onset of pneumonia are listed below.

Shedding of hair

An increase in body temperature

A cough or a sneeze that contains mucus

Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing

Vomiting or diarrhea


A dog that is having difficulty breathing will become agitated and attempt to crawl around. If you think your dog is in pain, ask your veterinarian about giving him or her something to make them feel better.

It is important to call your vet as soon as your dog shows signs of illness, and to keep the veterinarian informed of any changes in the dog’s health. Your vet can confirm the cause of the dog’s illness.

Your veterinarian can give antibiotics to help treat a dog with pneumonia. Antibiotics do not always stop an infection.

If your dog has pneumonia, he or she will probably need to be hospitalized. Your veterinarian will talk with you and the pet owner about the most effective treatment to keep your dog from becoming sicker.

Causes of pneumonia in dogs

Pneumonia is often caused by germs that the dog has been exposed to through a contaminated environment. The following examples of germs are most often the cause of pneumonia.

Yersinia enterocolitica (Y. enterocolitica)

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus)

Corynebacterium kutscheri

Corynebacterium kutscheri

Streptococcus equi (E. coli)

Streptococcus bovis

Streptococcus dysgalactiae

Listeria monocytogenes

Chlamydia psittaci

Streptococcus suis

Staphylococcus lentus

Pasteurella multocida

Lactobacillus species

Aerosolized bacteria

Pneumonia can also be caused by bacteria that are passed on in the air. Bacteria are tiny living organisms. They come in many shapes, sizes, and colors. Germs can be found living in the air and on surfaces and foods that are commonly used. Germs can survive outside of their living environment, and spread when people touch them or come in contact with animals. People breathe out bacteria into the air, the air then travels to the lower airways, and eventually to the lungs. Breathing in the air can cause bacteria to enter the lungs.

Bacteria travel through the lungs

Once in the lungs, the bacteria can infect the cells of the walls of the airways. Pneumonia develops when the bacteria multiply and kill off the healthy cells. Bacteria also invade the cells of the lungs and the cells that are involved in breathing and the immune system. The immune system is the body’s defense mechanism that keeps other bacteria, and viruses, from spreading. When the immune system is attacked by bacteria, it then produces antibodies and a fever to fight the bacteria. This fever is called a secondary response to the bacteria.

Signs and symptoms

Once the bacteria have entered the lungs, the signs and symptoms of pneumonia begin to develop. Symptoms often develop within a couple of days after exposure to the bacteria. Some of the more common signs and symptoms of pneumonia are:


Cough that does not go away


Difficulty breathing

Chest pain

Pale appearance

Pneumonia is a serious disease that can be fatal in some cases. Once the bacteria enter the lungs, it takes about four to eight days for signs and symptoms to develop. Even though the signs and symptoms of pneumonia may seem to be mild, a person with severe pneumonia may not be able to keep liquids or food down. The person may also have a fever that does not go away. Pneumonia may not always cause death, however, it can cause severe illness that requires hospitalization. If you are experiencing these signs and symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.


Pneumonia can be caused by either a virus or bacteria. Viruses are a common cause of pneumonia. Bacteria are the most common cause of pneumonia. This bacteria is known as Streptococcus pneumoniae (S. pneumoniae). Common types of Streptococcus that can cause pneumonia are:

Streptococcus pneumoniae

Streptococcus pyogenes

Streptococcus agalactiae

Streptococcus viridans

Group A Streptococcus

Group B Streptococcus

Other types of Streptococcus can cause pneumonia. These bacteria enter the body through the mouth. They can easily spread from person to person. This may occur when the person touches the person’s mouth and then touches something they shouldn’t touch. The virus that causes the flu may also lead to pneumonia.

Risk Factors

Pneumonia can occur at any age, but is more common in older adults. The germs that cause pneumonia are more likely to cause pneumonia in children than in adults. Pneumonia is also more likely to cause death in children.

The risk of pneumonia increases with:



Heart and lung disease

Lung damage

Use of tobacco

Exposure to certain viruses



Certain medical conditions

Infectious diseases


A recent history of a heart attack or stroke

How to prevent pneumonia

Preventing pneumonia requires taking certain steps. There are a few ways that you can protect yourself from contracting pneumonia:

Preventing respiratory illnesses. These include:

Avoiding secondhand smoke.

Avoiding tobacco smoke.

Avoiding contact with sick people.

Washing your hands often.

Covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough.

Wearing a mask while in public areas.

Practicing good personal hygiene.

Avoiding close contact with sick people.

Getting vaccinated.

Evaluating and treating your underlying medical conditions.


Treatment for pneumonia usually includes:

Giving antibiotics.

Stabilizing the patient’s health.

Preventing possible complications.

Monitoring progress after recovery.

Treatment may also include:

Pulmonary toilet (breathing in and out of a paper bag).

Respiratory support and assistance to relieve symptoms.

Supporting the patient's daily activity.

Preventing possible complications.

Treatment may also include:

Keeping the patient in the upright position.

Supporting fluid loss.


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