Emphysema is a chronic loss of functional lung tissue caused by a reduced elasticity of the lower airways.
Emphysema is a rare condition in dogs. Symptoms are variable and resemble those of other chronic diseases of the airways, i.e. chronic bronchitis or edema, such as bouts of harsh and dry coughing, breathing sounds and labored breathing. Retching of phlegm may be observed in some cases.
Lung emphysema does not develop on its own and is considered to be the result of other pathological processes. Chronic episodes of coughing caused by infections or allergies of the lower airways can lead to emphysema. In some cases, emphysema develops as part of the aging process.
Diagnosis is mostly based upon the animal's symptoms and clinical history. X-rays of the lung show mixed results. Symptoms may be partially relieved through bronchio-dilating drugs. Yet the condition often causes chronic damage to the lung tissue that may be irreversible.
Affected animals should only perform moderate physical exercise and have fresh air as often as possible. Rooms with warm and dry air or cigarette smoke should be avoided.