Pneumonia is a condition where the lungs are inflamed due to a bacterial, fungal or chemical agents. Aspiration pneumonia in dogs occurs after the animal inhales a foreign matter into the lungs. This may occur due to vomiting or regurgitation of gastric acid. Animals suffering from difficulty in swallowing or esophagus problems like paralysis. Some important aspects of aspiration pneumonia are covered in the following paragraphs.
There are a number of factors that may lead to aspiration pneumonia. These include throat and mouth disorders, esophageal disorders, problems with larynx, etc. Nerve disorders like polyneuropathy and muscular disorders like polymyopathy may also lead to aspiration pneumonia. Blockage of upper respiratory tract called brachycephalic syndrome may also cause aspiration pneumonia. When the dog's swallow reflex is affected after a seizure, head injury, sedation or general anesthesia, it may cause inhalation of a foreign matter. Chronic vomiting, or feeding the dog with tube, may cause accidental movement of food into the lungs.
As you can see there are a number of health disorders that can lead to aspiration pneumonia. If a dog suffers from brachycephalic syndrome, esophageal disorders, dysfunctional nerve disorders, inflammatory muscle disorders, decrease in mental alertness, or has to be feed with the help of a tube, one should watch out for the following symptoms:
- Exercise intolerance
- Loss of appetite
If you suspect a dog is suffering from some respiratory illness like pneumonia or aspiration pneumonia, take him to a vet. The veterinarian will conduct a physical examination of the dog and carry out further tests. These tests include chest X-ray, complete blood profile, abdominal palpitation, etc. The veterinarian may even take samples of the lung fluid to find if there is any bacterial infection involved.
When aspiration pneumonia is confirmed, the vet will immediately carry out suction of the airways. This will help get rid of the foreign matter in the lungs. Dogs showing signs of respiratory distress are given oxygen. The dog will be given lots of fluid, in case of dehydration and shock. The dog should be given plenty of rest and should not be exerted. Make sure the dog does not lie on one side for more than two hours. Help him change his sleeping position regularly. A humidifier or gentle thumping of the chest wall will help loosen the secretions. A bronchodilator therapy will help in opening the airways. Antibiotics will be prescribed if bacterial infection is found. In some rare cases, surgery will be carried out to remove the foreign body or tumor that is causing the aspiration.
After the dog seems to have stabilized, the veterinarian may suggest a mild exercise for the dog. This will help stimulate cough. When the dog coughs, it will help clear his airways. Aspiration pneumonia in dogs can be a life-threatening situation. Stomach contents entering the respiratory pathway may prove to have many harmful consequences. The animal may be kept in the hospital for several days, till the condition is stabilized. The discharged canine should be given medications prescribed on time, and taken for recommended follow-ups. One cannot prevent aspiration at times. Remember, a dog with aspiration pneumonia will take time to recover. During this time, make sure you give your dog plenty of rest, affection and a good diet as recommended by the veterinarian. One needs to remain alert and take good care of the dog and help him walk the path of recovery.