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Wheezing in Dogs

Is your dog producing a high-pitched whistling sound while breathing? Scroll down to know about the causes of wheezing in dogs along with the symptoms and treatment options.
DogAppy Staff
Last Updated: Dec 10, 2017
The term 'wheezing' refers to the coarse whistling sound that is produced when air flows through constricted airways. Such sounds are mainly attributed to the increased airflow velocity in the constricted airways. When the airways are constricted, the passage of oxygen is not smooth and oxygen has to squeeze its way through. If your dog has been persistently producing such whistling sounds while breathing, you must consult a veterinarian soon. Changes in the breathing pattern of your dog might be indicative of certain illnesses.
Breathing problems in canines could be caused due to a wide variety of reasons. Here's some information on the common contributory factors for wheezing in dogs.
An allergic reaction could occur when dogs inhale or ingest a substance that their immune system recognizes to be a threat. Sometimes dogs may wheeze after coming in contact with certain airborne allergens. Pollen, dust, smoke, chemicals from pesticides, perfumes, rubber, flea bites, drugs, vaccines and certain food items could cause an allergic reaction in some dogs. Besides noisy breathing, the affected dog may also exhibit symptoms such as coughing, itching, vomiting or runny nose.
Respiratory Tract Disorders
Respiratory tract disorders such as asthma and kennel cough are most likely to affect the breathing rhythm. Wheezing is one of the most characteristic signs of asthma. An asthma attack could be triggered by exposure to an allergen. During an attack, the dog may exhibit symptoms such as coughing, panting or open-mouth breathing. Kennel cough, which is medically referred to as infectious canine tracheobronchitis, is a condition that is characterized by inflammation of the upper respiratory tract. The causal organism for this condition could be a virus or bacterium. Dry cough, noisy breathing, gagging or sneezing are some of the symptoms associated with kennel cough, bronchitis and sinus infections.
Parasitic Infections
Parasites such as heartworm can be transmitted to dogs by mosquitoes. When these move on from the heart to the lungs, the breathing rhythm of the dog is affected. A heartworm-infested dog may wheeze and cough even after mild physical activity. Whistling sounds are usually heard when this parasitic infestation obstructs the flow of blood. The oxygen supply gets diminished and as a result, your dog may produce sounds while inhalation and exhalation.
Other Illnesses
Some congenital abnormalities can also be responsible for airway obstruction. If whistling sounds are also accompanied by other symptoms such as mouth breathing, snoring and snorting, your dog might be suffering from brachycephalic syndrome. If your pet makes such sounds when excited or after exertion, it may be indicative of health problems. Tumors of the larynx, trachea or lungs could cause noisy breathing in canines.
Medical conditions such as bronchitis and kennel cough should not be ignored. Bronchitis, heartworm disease and pneumonia have very similar symptoms, therefore, an X-ray would help in the proper diagnosis.
► In case your dog is prone to allergies, you must make sure that there are no allergens in the surroundings.
In case of heartworm disease and bacterial infections, antibiotics might be administered to treat the condition.
In case of a severe asthma attack, oxygen therapy and steroids might be required. Certain homeopathic medicines can also be used to treat breathing problems in dogs.
You can also try a home remedy. Let your dog inhale steam. Pour a few drops of essential oils in hot water. The combined effect of steam and vaporized essential oils will help in clearing up the chest congestion. It will also open up the blocked airways. The aforementioned remedy might help in case of mild wheezing, but it would be better to consult a veterinarian in case your dog is exhibiting symptoms such as coughing, vomiting, nose bleeding and excessive panting.
If your dog makes a high-pitched whistling sound while breathing, it is your responsibility as a dog owner to consult a veterinarian to ascertain the underlying cause and have it treated at the earliest.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for the advice of a veterinarian.