A dog’s first respiratory system line of defense is in the nasal cavity, where microscopic hairs (cilia) bathed in mucus trap particles. If inhaled particles penetrate to the lungs, macrophages (large cells whose name means “big eaters”) ingest the invaders.
If these defense mechanisms fail, a dog can develop respiratory problems. The most common diseases of the upper respiratory tract (the airways from the nost to the bronchi) are kennel cough (infectious tracheobronchitis) and chronic bronchitis.
Kennel cough is caused by highly contagious bacteria (most notably Bordetella bronchiseptica) and/or viruses (such as canine parainfluenza virus) that damage the lining of the upper airways. Dogs with kennel cough have a dry, honking cough, often followed by retching.
Veterinarians think canince chronic bronchitis results from chronically irritated airways or from increased sensitivity to inhaled allergens or pollutants. Dogs with chronic bronchitis have frequent bouts of dry coughing. Small, urban dogs and those exposed to cigarette smoiking are most often affected.
Because it is not infectious, chronic bronchitis does not respond to antibiotics and can be difficult to treat. The best approach is to remove the inciting irritant from the dog’s environment – or vice versa.
“Chronic bronchitis is incurable and fairly uncommon,” says Dr. Michael Stone, assistant clinical professor at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine. “The general practitioner probably sees three or four cases a year. Kennel cough is very common but in no way predisposes to the development of chronic bronchitis. Chronic bronchitis develops for poorly understood reasons but is in most cases related to a hypersensitivity or allergic response to an inhaled allergen.”
To learn more on how to help your dog from any respiratory problems, purchase Canine Medicine from Tufts Good Dog Library of Your Dog today.