Pneumonia is a severe inflammation of the lungs that often occurs simulatenously with a build-up of fluid inside the airways.
Dogs suffering from pneumonia are usually lethargic and anorexic, and high fever is also common. A pronounced, persistent cough that can sound raspy and rattling is usually present. Breathing is labored and seems painful for the animal. If oxygen intake is impaired, the gums and mucosa appear spotted blue.
Pneumonia usually starts inside the nasal cavity and pharynx, the passageway leading from the nose and oral cavity to the esophagus. It later descends into the lungs. In the lungs, the respiratory epithelium–layers of cells that line hollow organs and gland–is affected. After infecting the epithelium, pneumonia inflames the actual lung tissue (parenchyma), and causes swelling, increased mucous excretion, and ruptures in the lower airways. The airways then become obstructed–and this results in respiratory distress. In very severe cases, infected lungs may fill up with fluid. In dogs, pneumonia can be caused by bacteria such as bordetella.
Your dog should be hospitalized as soon as possible. He may require an oxygen supply via intubation. Pneumonia infections are most commonly treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics, which have to be administered over a longer period of time. Additionally, circulation may require stabilization with an intravenous infusion. The prognosis of the disease depends on the age and severity of the infection. As pneumonia is a serious disease that carries the risk of death, chances of a full recovery are better the sooner treatment begins.
If you suspect that your dog has caught a case of pneumonia, consult a veterinary clinic as soon as possible.