Bronchitis is an inflammation of the mucosa lining the bronchi. In chronic cases, complaints persist for longer then two months. No other conditions affecting the lungs or the airways should be present.
Chronic bronchitis is more often seen in dogs middle-aged and older. The most obvious symptom is chronic coughing that has lasted for more than two months. The coughing may produce phlegm. Coughing with phlegm can be especially pronounced after physical exercise. A blue-violet discoloration of the mucous membranes, skin, and lips is one possible symptom. Breathing difficulties may also be noticeable, and may be heard as humming or rattling noises made by the animal during inhalation.
Determining the underlying causes of chronic (long-lasting and/or frequently reoccuring) bronchitis can be difficult. One possible cause is preliminary acute bronchitis. When preliminary acute bronchitis fails to heal, it subsequently turns into chronic bronchitis. Preliminary acute bronchitis caused by a virus, bacteria, or parasite can also lead to the development of chronic bronchitis. In many cases the condition can be traced back to an allergic reaction of the lower airways.
Treatment has to be aimed at the underlying causes. If the owner is a smoker, he/she should use caution. All smoking should be avoided in the presence of the dog. Vaporizers may provide some relief by adding moisture to the air. A number of drugs are available, which are beneficial in cases of chronic bronchitis (mucolytic drugs, antibiotics, bronchi-dilating drugs etc.). As opposed to the acute variety, cough-suppressants (antitussiva) must not be used.
Chronic bronchitis is a serious disease. If your dog is suffering from persistent coughing, you should contact your veterinarian. If you’re calling outside of your vet’s office hours, you may wait until the next day to describe the situation and arrange for an appointment. In cases of chronic bronchitis the owner should avoid excitement for the dog, as well as providing a smoke-free environment. As in most conditions affecting the respiratory tract the dog should not be exposed to draft or remain in rooms with chilly air. Places of rest should be calm and have enough fresh air. Excessive physical exercise should be avoided. Please allow your dog enough time to rest and relax.