You might be wondering, is bronchitis in dogs the same as tracheobronchitis? If so, is kennel cough the same as well? How many names mean the same thing? I’m so confused! 

We know it can be overwhelming and confusing, and we’ve got you covered. Today we will get into everything to do with bronchitis in dogs. We will bring clarity to the different terms and types of bronchitis; you’ll be a plethora of knowledge by the end.

So, are you ready to get down to business? We thought so.

What is Bronchitis in Dogs?

What is bronchitis in dogs
Bronchitis in dogs is a broad term meaning the abrupt or continued inflammation of the trachea and bronchial airways. Bronchitis is also referred to as tracheobronchitis in dogs. Yes, it can be a bit confusing. Let’s break down a few of these terms.

  1. Trachea
  2. Larynx
  3. Bronchial airways

Trachea

The trachea is a membranous tube strengthened by c-shaped cartilage rings. The trachea is a pretty large tube taking up about20% of the diameter of any given dog’s throat. The trachea runs from the larynx to the bronchial tubes and brings oxygen to and from the lungs.

The trachea can also be referred to as the windpipe.

Larynx

The larynx is a hollow tube made of pure muscle that encloses the vocal cords in dogs, cats, humans, and other mammals. The larynx is also referred to as the voicebox for apparent reasons.

Bronchial Airways

The trachea reaches from the larynx to these bronchial tubes or airways. The bronchial tubes live in the lungs and take air in and out of them.

Dogs who may suffer from a severe case of bronchitis may develop pneumonia. Pneumonia causes the lungs to become inflamed, making breathing difficult. Sometimes fluid can accumulate in the lungs, causing a bubbling sound while breathing, a sign of a life-threatening condition.

Tracheobronchitis in Dogs

Tracheobronchitis in dogs
Again, tracheobronchitis is an all-encompassing word for respiratory issues in dogs. Bronchitis and tracheobronchitis can be used simultaneously to describe the trachea and bronchial airways’ inflammation for a temporary or long-term period.

Bronchitis Cough in Dogs

A bronchitis cough can differ a bit from dog to dog. There are many characteristics of a Bronchitis cough. Let’s talk about the most common characteristics of a bronchitis cough in dogs.

  1. Coughing fits
  2. Gagging
  3. Inflamed and irritated airways

Coughing Fits

Dogs suffering from bronchitis will often experience bouts of coughing, coughing spasms, or coughing fits. A dog may have a coughing fit while trying to remove mucus from the respiratory tract.

Gagging

Gagging often occurs in dogs with bronchitis in an attempt to bring something up. Again, whether it is productive or not depends on the condition at hand.

A dog suffering from chronic bronchitis may have a more productive cough. A dog with infectious tracheobronchitis (kennel cough) may have an unproductive cough where they gag and retch with no result.

Inflamed and Irritated Airways

Inflamed and irritated airways are the reason for bronchitis in dogs. The causes for inflammation and irritation can be from several different conditions. We’ll get into that shortly.

Types of Bronchitis in Dogs

Types of bronchitis in dogs
Sheesh, how many are there?! 

Only two, but the illnesses they encompass are many. Don’t get overwhelmed just yet. We still have a lot to cover!

We now know that all forms of bronchitis in dogs are caused by inflammation and irritation of the trachea or bronchial passages. How do we decipher the many different illnesses and conditions that bronchitis entails? Well, let’s look at:

  1. Acute Bronchitis
  2. Chronic Bronchitis

Acute Bronchitis in Dogs

Acute bronchitis and the illnesses that rest under this category are temporary. The symptoms can still seem extreme, intense, and very uncomfortable, as the definition of acute suggests.

However, acute bronchitis isn’t a recurring condition without reinfection from direct contact with another dog or something of the sort.

Examples of acute bronchitis in dogs are:

  • Infectious tracheobronchitis or kennel cough
  • Respiratory viruses

Though these illnesses can be severe, they are not a constant. Often, pet parents can treat many acute bronchitis conditions at home or with minor medicinal intervention.

Illnesses and Conditions Resulting in Bronchitis in Dogs
Acute BronchitisChronic Bronchitis Allergic Bronchitis
Infectious tracheobronchitis (kennel cough)PneumoniaFood allergies
AdenovirusParasites (heartworm roundworm)Seasonal allergies
Canine DistemperHeart diseaseFlea allergies
Canine herpes virusLung CancerLung cancer
Canine influenzaPeriodontitisNasal cancer

Tracheobronchitis in Dogs vs Kennel Cough in Dogs

So, is there a difference between tracheobronchitis and kennel cough?

Well, yes and no.

Though tracheobronchitis does cover kennel cough as being “an abrupt and temporary inflammation of the trachea”, it isn’t quite the same. Kennel cough is a specific illness that lies under the tracheobronchitis umbrella.

What is kennel cough, then?! You may be asking with frustration in your voice. 

Kennel cough is referred to as “canine infectious tracheobronchitis” if you want to get specific. You see, not all cases of bronchitis or tracheobronchitis in dogs are, in fact, contagious or transferrable.

Several things can cause infectious tracheobronchitis. If you have read any of our articles, you may already know what causes kennel cough or infectious tracheobronchitis. Just in case you’ve forgotten, let’s review.

The top causes of kennel cough are:

Chronic Bronchitis in Dogs

Chronic Bronchitis in DogsBronchitis is considered chronic when the symptoms persist 2 to 3 months out of the year for a minimum of two consecutive years. Chronic bronchitis in dogs affects the smaller bronchi that branch off of the trachea.

Chronic bronchitis may also be referred to as COPD or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. 

Because chronic bronchitis symptoms are constant and recurring, the bronchi and trachea walls begin to thicken, eventually making breathing a difficult task.

Who Is Likely To Experience Chronic Bronchitis?

Chronic bronchitis typically affects middle-aged dogs or older. The onset for dogs that are predisposed to chronic bronchitis and the conditions they encompass is about six years old.

Chronic bronchitis can affect any dog breed, but some small dog breeds are prone to disease and illness that can cause chronic bronchitis.

These dog breeds include:

  • Cocker spaniels
  • Toy breeds
  • West Highland White Terriers
  • Pomeranians
  • German Shorthair Pointers

Remember the definition of chronic bronchitis? It’s recurring and consistent. Whether a dog experiences symptoms a few months a year, every year or is constantly experiencing symptoms; the condition is considered chronic.

Examples of Chronic Bronchitis in Dogs

  • Lung cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Tracheal collapse
  • Seasonal allergies and asthma

What Causes Acute Bronchitis In Dogs?

Causes of acute bronchitis in dogs
Okay, now let’s delve a bit deeper into the causes of acute and chronic bronchitis in dogs.

Acute bronchitis is a temporary inflammation and irritation of the trachea and bronchial airways. We mentioned examples of acute bronchitis in dogs in a previous section. Now let’s get more specific.

The top causes are:

  1. Bordetella Bronchiseptica
  2. Respiratory viruses

Bordetella Bronchiseptica

Infectious tracheobronchitis’ or kennel cough’s number one culprit, is Bordetella Bronchiseptica. You might be sick of hearing about kennel cough by now but let’s take a moment to understand why kennel cough is considered acute bronchitis.

Infectious tracheobronchitis or kennel cough is contagious and spreads quickly from one dog to another, especially in places like boarding facilities and animal shelters. Kennel cough and any form of bronchitis will have signs and symptoms in common with each other.

What makes kennel cough acute bronchitis?

Infectious tracheobronchitis is acute bronchitis because it has an end date. Kennel cough usually comes and goes in 14 days or less, and it doesn’t recur unless you are having terrible luck with kennel cough cases at your doggy daycare.

Respiratory Viruses

Respiratory viruses are a common culprit for canine infectious tracheobronchitis as well as bordetella bronchiseptica.

Viruses like these most often cause respiratory infections.

  • Adenovirus
  • Distemper
  • Parainfluenza
  • Canine influenza
  • Canine herpes virus

What Causes Chronic Bronchitis In Dogs?

These are the top culprits of chronic bronchitis in dogs:

  • Parasites like heartworm and roundworm
  • Mouth diseases
  • Toxic fumes and chemicals
  • Constant or chronic coughing
  • Lung cancer
  • Smoke and irritants
  • Heart disease
  • Tracheal collapse

What Causes Allergic Bronchitis in Dogs?

What causes allergic bronchitis dogs
Allergic bronchitis is a type of bronchitis that can be considered acute or chronic, depending on the situation. Allergic bronchitis is sometimes referred to as asthma. We all know someone with asthma or maybe have a case ourselves.

Allergic bronchitis, in the simplest terms, is an allergy to something. When we have allergic reactions to things like pollen, nuts, or a specific antibiotic type, it triggers our immune systems to release a protein called histamine.

Histamine has an inflammatory effect on the bronchial tubes and the trachea. This is why some people can’t breathe when they eat shellfish or tree nuts. The same kind of thing happens to your dog.

As with humans, most often, allergies and asthma are caused by one of two things.

  1. Environmental factors
  2. Smoke and Irritants

Environmental Factors

Some dogs begin to experience symptoms of bronchitis only around a particular time of year. Allergens may be inhaled or absorbed through the skin. In this case, you may assume your dog has seasonal allergies caused by the change in weather.

Here are some of the most common allergens that may affect dogs.

  • Pollen
  • Mould
  • Dust mites

Smoke and Irritants

Okay, we aren’t going to tell you what to do, but second-hand smoke and household irritants can be affecting your pets more than you might think.

Smoking around your pet can cause many issues such as:

  • Lung cancer
  • Nasal cancer
  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Eye problems
  • Bronchitis
  • Pneumonia

Other irritants include:

  • Fire ash
  • Household sprays
  • Air fresheners
  • Second-hand smoke
  • Dust mites
  • Mould
  • Toxic cleaning products

Is Bronchitis Contagious in Dogs?

Is bronchitis contagious
Bronchitis is an umbrella term used in association with so many illnesses, diseases, and conditions. Bronchitis is not strictly or always contagious in dogs.

Some forms of bronchitis are extremely contagious. One we know so well, that’s right, kennel cough; as well as the other contagious viruses that spread from one dog to another before you can say, infectious tracheobronchitis!” 

Symptoms of Bronchitis in Dogs

Symptoms of bronchitis in dogs
We have differentiated between all of the bronchitis types. You may be relieved to read, symptoms of bronchitis in dogs are pretty similar across the board.

Signs & Symptoms of bronchitis in dogs are:

  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Decreased energy
  • Wheezing
  • Gagging
  • Retching
  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Panting
  • Vomiting
  • Slight fever

Severe Signs and Symptoms of Bronchitis in Dogs

  • Bluish gums (lack of oxygen)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Loss of consciousness due to lack of oxygen to the brain

If your dog is experiencing any of these symptoms, they need immediate vet attention.

Treatment of Bronchitis in Dogs

Treatment of bronchitis in dogs
Bronchitis in dogs requires a hypothetical medicine bag of prescription or non-prescription remedies for relief of coughing, inflammation, and pain.

Consider the following treatments:

  1. Antibiotics
  2. Corticosteroids
  3. Bronchodilators
  4. Environmental modifications
  5. Rest, hydration, and nutrition

Antibiotics

When bacteria are the cause, such as bordetella, kennel cough antibiotics are essential. Antibiotics kill the bacteria and keep the cells from reproducing.

Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids are often administered orally and are a standard go-to for veterinarians with patients suffering from inflamed airways. Corticosteroids target inflammation, relieving some discomfort and pain.

A common corticosteroid that vets use is prednisone. Though corticosteroids like prednisone can help some chronic bronchitis cases, they carry quite a few risks and side effects.

Side effects of Corticosteroids:

  • Excessive thirst & increased appetite
  • Increased urination
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Aggression
  • The texture of the coat may change
  • Bloody stools and vomit
  • Listlessness

Bronchodilators

Bronchodilators offer relief from coughing by opening up the trachea and bronchi. Bronchodilators can be administered orally in pill, or liquid form and, in some cases, can be administered via injection by your vet.

Bronchodilators treat coughing caused by bronchoconstriction. Bronchoconstriction is the narrowing of the bronchial tubes due to muscle contraction.)

Environmental Modifications

If your dog is suffering from any form of bronchitis, it is wise to consider environmental modifications. Modifications to the environment surrounding your dog mean investigating the home as well as the outdoor area to which your dog is exposed.

Environmental modifications include:

  • Clean your house well without the use of harsh cleaners or toxic chemicals
  • Eliminate irritants like the ones we mentioned above (dust, mold, sprays).
  • Keep the living area as well ventilated as possible, within reason.
  • Use a harness or vest to walk your dog instead of a collar.
  • If you have cats, trade in the dusty litter for an unscented, low dust variety instead. Your cats will thank you too! Well, maybe not, but you get what we mean.
  • Don’t expose your pets to extreme hot or cold conditions if at all possible.
  • Don’t smoke around your pets!

Rest, Hydration, and Nutrition

Sometimes some good rest and time to recuperate are just what the doctor ordered. Often, acute bronchitis cases can be cured with some support from a loving parent, lots of water, good food, and sleep.

Causes, Symptoms & Treatment of Bronchitis in Dogs
Type of BronchitisCausesSymptomsTreatment
AcuteBordetella Bronchiseptica

Parainfluenza

Distemper

Canine influenza

Persistent cough

Gagging and retching

Wheezing

Runny nose and eyes

Difficulty breathing

Low fever

Rest

Hydration

Nutrition

Antibiotics

Cough suppressants

ChronicParasites

Toxic fumes and chemicals

Constant coughing

Lung cancer

Heart disease

Tracheal collapse

Persistent cough

Gagging and retching

Bluish gums (lack of oxygen)

Loss of appetite

Loss of consciousness

Vomiting

Decreased energy

Corticosteroids

Bronchodilators

Antibiotics

Cough suppressants

AllergicSmoke and irritants

Mould

Seasonal allergies

Cough

Watery eyes

Runny nose

Wheezing

Environmental modifications

Corticosteroids

Natural Treatments for Bronchitis in Dogs

Several natural remedies are out there just waiting to be plucked for their purpose. Here are some of our favorite natural and home remedies for bronchitis in dogs.

  1. Raw honey
  2. Extra virgin coconut oil
  3. Use of a humidifier

Raw Honey

We boast of the amazing healing, antibacterial and antioxidant properties of some good, old-fashioned, raw, organic honey. Not of the junk with additives, corn syrup or preservatives; try seeking out your local, sustainable beehive. The benefits of raw, unprocessed honey will be worth the effort.

Honey aids in soothing a sore throat as well as killing bacteria. You can give your dog a teaspoon to a tablespoon, depending on their size. It’s your choice if it’s diluted in warm water or right off of the spoon.

Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is a natural anti-microbial and can help to soothe a dog’s irritating cough, and they like it a lot!

Please don’t get too crazy with the coconut oil. Though it is a wonderful natural remedy, it is still an oil, chock full of fat.

It’s advised not to exceed a teaspoon per every 10 pounds of dog per day until the cough subsides.

Use a Humidifier

A humidifier is always an excellent home treatment for bronchitis. Will a humidifier fix everything that ails them? Probably not, but it’s a good start to better breathing and recovery from bronchitis.

Breathing in dry air day in and day out will cause irritation of the trachea in humans and dogs alike. Go ahead, invest in a humidifier. It will do the whole family well!

Chronic Bronchitis in Dog’s Life Expectancy

It’s actually not as bleak as you might have guessed. Most cases of chronic bronchitis don’t even set in until 6 to 8 years of age.

After that, the progression is usually gradual and can be managed with anti-inflammatories to keep the airways clear along with some cough remedies to soothe the throat and quiet hacking, gagging, and retching.

With appropriate management of symptoms, a dog can live to a perfectly ripe age. 

Conclusion

Well, here we are again, learning more than we ever imagined about bronchitis in dogs. Go ahead and pat yourself on the back for all the research you’ve been doing for your beloved fur baby.

We know you’ve got this, but you know where we are if you need us!