When a dog does any persistent
sneezing and coughing and at the same
time maintains its normal pep and appetite, there is usually not very
much to worry about. The likelihood is that the animal has a simple
cold, and the same common-sense hygienic measures that are used in
taking care of colds in humans apply to dogs. This means that the
animal must be kept in a room that is well-ventilated and free from
drafts and fed light nourishing food. If the coughing and sneezing
cause excessive discomfort, the same household cold remedies and nose
drops as used by man may be used in much the same way in the dog.
Naturally the dosage should be smaller for the dog, but sufficient
amounts may be given to bring about obvious relief. In any case, the
only function of these drugs is to relieve and not to cure. So far as
curing is concerned, the job is best left to nature, for the symptoms
will be observed to disappear gradually over a period of from ten days
to two weeks.
The only time that any special attention needs to be paid to coughing
and sneezing is when they are accompanied by lack of appetite,
depression, and fever. In such cases the situation may not be at all
simple, and if the common hygienic measures outlined above do not
yield improvement within a couple of days, it is best to have the
animal examined by a veterinarian. Sometimes neglect of a common cold
may lead to an attack of laryngitis, bronchitis, or even pneumonia,
and these could be quite serious. At least they are well beyond the
scope of the ordinary layman and do not readily yield
to household remedies.
In speaking of these respiratory disorders—and of any other disorders,
for that matter—we often make a distinction between the acute and the
chronic form of a disease. When we speak of the acute form, we refer to
a sudden and often violent attack, which usually reacts to proper
medication and is not long-lasting. Acute respiratory attacks may last
anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks. When we speak of the
chronic form, we usually refer to an attack of gradual onset that is
relatively mild, but somehow does not react readily to routine
medication and may persist for a considerable time. Chronic respiratory
attacks may last anywhere from four to six weeks or longer. Especially
in the case of coughing, a cough may last for many years. Everybody
knows that among the human family chronic coughs are very common. The
persistent hacking of a heavy cigarette smoker may last throughout the
adult life. Older folks, with asthmatic conditions, often have a
similar complaint. Chronic coughs are rather common in dogs also,
especially as they get older.
These few notes have been written as a general introduction to a more
detailed discussion of the common disease conditions associated with
coughing and sneezing. It will be noted that, for the most part,
treatment is stated only in general terms. This was done on purpose,
because specific treatment must be adapted to the individual animal and
can be determined only by the veterinarian who is treating the
Rhinitis is the term applied to an
inflammation—acute or chronic—of the
membranes lining the nasal passages. Rhinitis is a rather common and
mild disease of dogs, and while recovery from the acute form is often
spontaneous or in response to simple medication, the chronic form also
very often has a favorable outcome though it is somewhat more
treatment and demands more prolonged medication.
Acute rhinitis may be caused by infection, exposure to cold, inhalation
of irritating substances, and the early stages of nasal parasite
invasion. Chronic rhinitis is usually the result of repeated attacks
of the acute form, though it may result from an ordinary infection, a
prolonged parasitic invasion, or from the development of tumorous
growths within the nasal passages.
The acute form is characterized first by redness and dry-ness of the
nasal mucosa, which progresses to a nasal discharge that may be watery
or pus-like in character. This is accompanied by sneezing, rubbing of
the nose, and the accumulation of dried matter around the nasal
In the chronic form, the discharge is usually pus-like, the odor from
it may be offensive, and sometimes it may be tinged with blood. The
animal may suffer violent paroxysms of sneezing. Where the nasal
passages are clogged, the animal may breathe through its mouth. When
the condition is especially severe, there may be loss of appetite,
dullness, and depression.
The treatment of rhinitis consists of the application of proper
hygienic measures and the administration of tonics, nasal antiseptics,
and germ-killing and alleviatory preparations in tablet, injection,
liquid, spray, or ointment forms. If the chronic form proves
particularly resistant, vaccines prepared from the nasal discharge have
occasionally been used with favorable results. The course of acute
rhinitis usually lasts from seven to ten days. The chronic form may
persist from three to four weeks or longer.
The larynx is popularly known as the
voice box. An inflammation of the
lining membrane of the larynx is known as laryngitis. Suddent attacks
are called acute laryngitis. Repeated attacks may lead to chronic
laryngiti. The condition is very
common in the dog. If the factors responsible for the acute form are
eliminated, the chronic affection may be avoided.
Acute laryngitis may be caused by excess barking, inhalation of
irritating substances, infection and extension of the inflammation from
adjacent organs. The symptoms are hoarseness, frequent attempts at
swallowing, sensitivity to pressure over the larynx, coughing after
exercise or drinking very cold water and a harsh dry cough that
gradually becomes softer as the condition becomes alleviated. Chronic
laryngitis is characterized by symptoms similar to the acute form
though less marked and more persistent, and the larynx is much less
sensitive to pressure. There may also be intermittent acute attacks in
The outcome is more favorable in the acute than in the chronic form.
Where acute laryngitis appears as an uncomplicated disease, it is
usually completely cured in from seven to ten days. In the chronic
form, however, the outcome is much less optimistic in that improvement
is generally rather slow and complete recovery seldom takes place.
The treatment of both acute and chronic laryngitis consists in keeping
the animal warm, making sure that it gets plenty of fresh air, and
feeding it warm, soothing foods, such as milk, a cereal mixture of milk
and pablum, meat broth, and similar preparations. Medical treatment is
based on the administration of drugs that will destroy incriminated
germs and on those that will stimulate the flow of saliva. These
latter drugs, called expectorants, are useful because the flow of
saliva is very soothing to the irritated membranes and will contribute
substantially to the comfort of the animal.
Bronchitis and Asthma
Old dogs commonly become afflicted with
severe and raucous coughing
spasms that often become aggravated during the night, thereby causing
considerable discomfort to the animal and sleepless hours for the
owner. These spasms appear rather
suddenly and, instead of disappearing like the ordinary cold, the
symptoms not only persist but may become worse.
The condition is due to an inflammation of the lining membranes of the
bronchi, the respiratory tubes between the throat and the lungs. Such
an inflammation is called a bronchitis, and if it persists for many
weeks it is classified as a chronic bronchitis. In old dogs the
condition rarely appears independently but is ordinarily associated
with the breakdown of lung tissue, causing what is commonly known as
asthma. It also bears a distinct relation to the gradual breakdown of
cardiac or heart tissue. Thus it happens that, when some veterinarians
give a diagnosis of chronic bronchitis, and others give the designation
of cardiac asthma to the condition, they often refer to the same
The violence of the spasms usually causes the owner great concern, but
his consternation is considerably relieved when he notices that between
spasms the animal retains its normal appetite and shows no abnormality
in the performance of its vital functions. The owner is led to believe
that the disturbance is only temporary but, after he has spent a few
sleepless nights and is on the verge of nervous prostration from lack
of sleep, he is finally driven to solicit the benevolent assistance of
a veterinary surgeon.
Most of the time chronic bronchitis is incurable and the veterinarian
can offer only relief measures in the form of syrupy cough mixtures,
bland diet, honey, heart stimulants, and the like. The cough mixture
will contain some form of cough sedative to relieve the violence of the
spasms, and it will also include some agent that will cause the bronchi
to dilate so as to make breathing easier.
The average owner finds the cough spasms so disturbing that the animal
is often put to sleep before it can live out its natural life. Though
the cough is a detriment to health, the animal can live an appreciable
time with it. Thus, whether or not euthanasia (putting an animal to
sleep) is decided upon is entirely
at the discretion of the owner.
Dogs with acute bronchitis act very much
like dogs with chronic
bronchitis, with the difference that the cough is usually more severe,
but it gradually subsides and finally disappears in from ten to
fourteen days if the animal is given routine cough medicines, proper
hygiene, and certain germ-killing drugs when they are necessary. Most
often this form of the disease occurs as a complication of a bad cold.
Pneumonia is not readily amenable to
definition in nontechnical terms.
For all practical purposes it is sufficient to state that pneumonia
refers to an inflammatory process of the small tubules known as
bronchioles and the related structures in the lung tissue. At one time
pneumonia was considered to be, almost invariably, a fatal affliction.
But with the advent of some of the newer drugs of modern medicine, its
danger has been considerably curtailed. None the less, it is still a
boldly significant disease condition, the neglect of which may have
Pneumonia may be caused by the inhalation of irritant substances.
Changeable weather and improper hygiene may predispose an animal to it.
It may occur as a result of a specific infection, or as a secondary
manifestation of certain infectious diseases. Pneumonia may also be
produced by the extension of an inflammatory condition higher in the
respiratory tract. Thus, the neglect of a common cold or of acute
bronchitis may lead to pneumonia. A form of the disease known as
foreign-body pneumonia may result from the in-gestion of various
substances into the lungs. This may be caused by improper swallowing
due to faulty technique in
the administration of medicines. People who insist on excessive home
treatment of dogs should take particular note of this fact.
The most characteristic symptom of pneumonia is labored breathing with
a unique intermittent puffing up and relaxation of the cheeks. In
severe cases, a sonorous, crackling sound may be heard when the animal
breathes, and sometimes a peculiar rumbling actually can be felt when
the palm of the hand is placed over the ribs. This is accompanied by
high fever, depression, and sometimes restlessness. Often there is a
deep, sharp cough with some nasal discharge. If the disease process
runs its course, the animal dies of asphyxiation. The veterinarian
usually diagnoses the disease on the basis of the symptoms.
The outlook in cases of pneumonia is favorable if the disease is caught
in time, less optimistic if it is treated in an advanced stage, and
unfavorable in foreign-body pneumonia.
Treatment is based upon the maintenance of clean, well-ventilated
quarters and proper hygiene, the feeding of highly nutritious, easily
digestable foods, and the administration of appropriate drugs, usually
in the form of penicillin, au-reomycin, terramycin, and the sulfa
Tuberculosis is rather uncommon in the
dog. The germ that causes it
most often gains entrance into the body by inhalation or by ingestion
with the food. Though dogs may conceivably transmit tuberculosis to
man, and may likewise acquire it from man, the possibility is
insignificant from the standpoint of public health.
Tuberculosis is a chronic, wasting disease and its symptoms develop
very slowly. The affected animal appears generally unhealthy, and in
spite of a good appetite becomes gradually emaciated. When emaciation
sets in, the distinctive symptoms manifest themselves with greater
emphasis. If the germ infects the respiratory system, it will give rise
to the pulmonary form of tuberculosis, characterized by a short, dry
that later becomes moist and is accompanied by labored breathing,
exhaustion after mild exercise, and the accumulation of phlegm, which
is usually swallowed. Where the germ has gained entrance into the body
by way of the digestive system, it will give rise to the intestinal
form of the disease. This is characterized by chronic diarrhea
refractory to treatment. The disease may run its course over several
years, but emaciation is indicative of the latter stages of the
affliction, and death ensues within a short time after it sets in.
Because of its relative rarity, tuberculosis is often diagnosed only
by post-mortem examination. While the animal is still alive, the
tuberculin test might be applied, but this has been found generally
unreliable in carnivorous animals. The better approach would be to
attempt to identify the tuberculosis germ by means of a
bacteriological examination of the sputum or the bowel discharge. An
X-ray may assist materially in diagnosis. Obviously tuberculosis is a
problem for the veterinarian.
If the diagnosis can be established in the early stages, treatment may
be attempted in the form of good nutrition, potent tonics, and good
hygienic measures. In the latter stages of the disease, a favorable
outcome is very unlikely and putting the animal to sleep is the only