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Can my dog get pneumonia? Eek! 

No one wants to hear that a friend or family member has acquired pneumonia; this goes for the pets too!

Pneumonia in dogs is usually the result of a prolonged or untreated bacterial or viral infection. Sometimes it develops from inhaling or aspirating on various liquids.

All types of pneumonia in dogs can be stressful for the pup and the owners. In addition, it can be heart-wrenching to watch your beloved fur baby lay around in subtle disinterest.

Today, let’s dig into the types of pneumonia in dogs, symptoms, and treatment for the family pooch.

Dog Pneumonia

Dog Pneumonia
What is Dog Pneumonia?

The basic definition of pneumonia in dogs is the same for humans. Pneumonia is an infection causing inflammation of one or both of the air sacs of the lungs. As fluid accumulates in the lungs, symptoms begin to manifest.

Pneumonia is always something that needs to be addressed by a veterinarian and can be moderate to severe.

Can Dogs Get Pneumonia?

Yes. Dogs can suffer from many diseases and infections that may result in pneumonia.

A diagnosis of pneumonia is one of the worst things a pet parent can hear, but all hope is not lost. Various cases of pneumonia have been carefully nursed back to health by good folks with big hearts and expertise.

Check out this heartwarming video of a dog named Penny who wouldn’t give up.

Can Dogs Get Pneumonia from Humans?

Yes, but it is pretty unlikely. It depends on if the initial infection is contagious to dogs. It never hurts to take some extra care in washing hands often before petting dogs if one is sick.

  1. Bacterial pneumonia in dogs
  2. Fungal pneumonia in dogs
  3. Aspirational pneumonia in dogs

Bacterial Pneumonia in Dogs

Bacterial Pneumonia in Dogs
Bacterial pneumonia is the most common diagnosis for dogs with severe respiratory disease, suggesting that there may be a more complicated relationship between the two.

Bacterial pneumonia is inflammation cells and fluid that accumulate in the lungs and airways, caused by pathogenic bacteria.

Although no one bacteria is fully responsible for bacterial pneumonia, some are more common than others.

Causes of Bacterial Pneumonia in Dogs

Take a guess – what is the most common cause of bacterial pneumonia in dogs?

That’s right, Bordetella Bronchiseptica, or as it is more commonly known – kennel cough.

Streptococcus Zooepidemicas is another common cause of bacterial pneumonia in dogs. Strep Zoo can cause severe respiratory distress and must be addressed immediately.

Dogs like these tend to have more encounters with bacterial pneumonia than others:

  • Sporting dogs
  • Large mixed breeds
  • Hounds

Possible underlying conditions can leave some dogs more susceptible to bacterial pneumonia. These conditions include:

With speedy treatment and care, most dogs will recover fully from bacterial pneumonia without a hitch.

Fungal Pneumonia in Dogs

Fungal Pneumonia in Dogs
Fungal pneumonia is the inflammation of the lungs as a consequence of extensive fungal infection. Many fungi can be responsible for a fungal infection, but a few are more commonly associated with the development of fungal pneumonia.

The inflammation from this type of infection develops in the:

  • Lymphatic vessels – containing white blood cells that cleanse the body
  • Peribronchial tissues – surrounding the significant air passages to the lungs
  • Interstitial tissues containing lung capillaries and lymphatics

Fungal pneumonia is more prevalent in German Shepherds and male dogs who are 2- 4 times more likely to develop fungal pneumonia than female dogs.

Causes of Fungal Pneumonia in Dogs

Dogs have a way of getting into yucky stuff. For example, fungal infections can sometimes develop from sniffing or eating the wrong organic matter, soil, or feces, at the wrong time.

The most common fungal infections to result in fungal pneumonia are:

  1. Blastomyces
  2. Histoplasma
  3. Aspergillosis


Often found in decaying organic matter like leaves, Blastomyces is a fungal infection affecting animals and humans. Blastomyces typically manifest with lesions of the skin and lungs.


Histoplasma is another soil-dwelling fungus that affects humans and animals but is much more common in cats and dogs. Histoplasma is present in soil containing bat and bird feces and is prevalent in warm, moist places.


Also known as fungal rhinitis, it results in an infection in the nose and sinuses. Any breed of dog can develop an aspergillosis infection, but the condition seems more prevalent in dogs with long snouts.

Aspergillosis can cause the tiny bones in the nose to break down and instead form lesions.

Signs of Aspergillosis

  • Sneezing
  • Reverse sneezing
  • Pale nose
  • Nose bleeds
  • Creamy nasal discharge

Symptoms of fungal pneumonia include:

  • Fever
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Lameness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Eye problems
  • Runny eyes and nose

Fungal pneumonia can be tricky as it may initially present itself as an eye or skin problem. The only way to diagnose fungal pneumonia is by analysing fluid on a transtracheal wash or a skin lesion biopsy.

Other helpful tests that a vet may request:

  • Urinalysis
  • Chest X-rays
  • Abdominal ultrasound

Sadly many dogs are not responsive to fungal pneumonia medications. Treatment for fungal pneumonia is dependent on the type of fungus that caused the initial infection.

Type of PneumoniaCauses SymptomsTreatment
Bacterial PneumoniaBordetella Bronchiseptica

Streptococcus Zooepidemicus

Anaerobic bacteria

Difficulty breathing



Nasal discharge

Increased heart rate

Exercise intolerance


Loss of appetite


Dog pneumonia antibiotics

Isolation or Cage rest in a quiet place

Underlying conditions treated

IV fluids

Oxygen therapy

Anti Inflammatories


Fungal PneumoniaFungi like:






Difficulty breathing


Loss of appetite

Weight loss

Eye problems

Runny eyes and nose


Isolation or Cage rest in a quiet place

Underlying conditions treated

IV fluids

Oxygen therapy

Anti Inflammatories


Aspirational Pneumonia in Dogs

Aspirational Pneumonia in Dogs
Unfortunately, this is not a section about the goals and aspirations set forth for our fur babies.

Aspirational or inhalation pneumonia causes inflamed lungs from inhaling things into the lungs.

The same respiratory culprits that cause bacterial and fungal pneumonia can also increase the likelihood of aspirational pneumonia in dogs. 

Many respiratory diseases affecting the following organs can also increase the likelihood of inhalation or aspiration in dogs.

  • Larynx or pharynx
  • Oesophagus
  • Intestines
  • Stomach

Causes of Aspirational Pneumonia in Dogs

Aspirational pneumonia is caused by the inhalation of different things causing a dog to breathe liquid into the lungs. Dogs may aspirate from things like:

  • Food
  • Vomit
  • Regurgitating stomach acid
  • Foreign bodies

Symptoms of Aspirational Pneumonia in Dogs

If aspirational pneumonia is suspected, keep eyes and ears open and aware of these signs and symptoms.

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Coughing
  • Fever
  • Runny nose
  • Vomiting
  • Increased heart rate
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
Causes SymptomsTreatment
Inhaling anything into the lungs like:

  • Caustic chemicals
  • Vomit
  • Stomach acid
  • Food
  • Drink
  • Foreign bodies
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Coughing
  • Fever
  • Runny nose
  • Vomiting
  • Increased heart rate
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Anti Inflammatories
  • Oxygen therapy
  • Rest
  • Avoidance of irritants
  • Limit exercise
  • Avoid things easily inhaled

Which Dogs Are At Risk of Pneumonia?

Which Dogs are at Risk of Pneumonia
Yes, some dogs may be more vulnerable to infection or aspiration, leading to the development of pneumonia. They are:

  1. Puppies
  2. Force-fed dogs
  3. Epileptic dogs


Puppies are always more sensitive, but those who are bottle-fed or have a cleft palate are even more likely to suffer from aspirational pneumonia.

Force-fed dogs

Some dogs already have trachea issues like dysphagia, the paralysis of the swallowing mechanism may have to be force-fed to get their daily nutrients. However, dogs who are force-fed may also be more likely to develop this type of pneumonia.

A dog fed via a feeding tube or a syringe can easily aspirate. Therefore, when feeding a dog this way, it is imperative to go very slowly to ensure the dog has had time to swallow before pushing more fluids or foods into its mouth or throat.

Epileptic dogs

Dogs who have seizures from time to time are more likely to aspirate on things during an epileptic fit. Since these attacks tend to come on without a lot of notice, one must pay close attention to these pups.

About 60% of epileptic dogs will experience aspiration of saliva or gastric grossness sometime during their lifespan.

Symptoms of Pneumonia in Dogs

Symptoms of Pneumonia in Dogs
Although there are three types of pneumonia the symptoms between them overlap immensely. 

Common symptoms of pneumonia in dogs include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing
  • Fever
  • Nasal discharge
  • Increased heart rate
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Runny eyes

Diagnosis of Pneumonia in Dogs

Diagnosis of Canine Pneumonia
A veterinarian must be the one to provide a diagnosis of any form of pneumonia through a thorough exam. During the initial exam, the veterinarian listens to the lungs. In more severe cases of pneumonia, a veterinarian may hear the fluid in the lungs causing:

  • Crackling
  • Wheezing
  • whistling

The vet may also order chest and lung X-Rays to determine how progressive a case of pneumonia may be.

Treatment of Pneumonia in Dogs

Treatment of Pneumonia in Dogs
First things first; seek medical care

Pneumonia is not something that will fix itself. Veterinarian consults and often hospitalization will be required for the treatment of pneumonia in dogs.

  1. Dog pneumonia antibiotics
  2. Anti Inflammatories
  3. Antitussives
  4. Antifungals
  5. Isolation and rest in a quiet place
  6. Underlying conditions treated
  7. IV fluids
  8. Oxygen therapy
  9. Dog pneumonia antibiotics

Anti Inflammatories

A veterinarian may prescribe Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories to decrease fever and reduce pain.


Antitussives are commonly prescribed to calm coughs in dogs as well as humans. Robitussin contains one of the most frequently prescribed antitussives, dextromethorphan. In addition, a vet may choose to prescribe dextromethorphan or something similar for coughing that impedes sleep, for rest is one of the essential components of healing.


Antifungal methods are often used in an attempt to treat fungal pneumonia. The type of treatment depends on the type of fungal infection present in the dog. Unfortunately, many dogs and cats don’t respond to antifungal therapy.

Isolation and rest in a quiet place

In some cases, isolation may be necessary to avoid spreading a bacterial, viral or fungal infection to other animals in the house. However, isolation or cage rest is highly recommended despite the situation.

A dog with pneumonia has been through the wringer and needs some undisturbed rest to recover from any form of pneumonia in dogs fully.

Underlying conditions treated

Bacterial, fungal, viral, and any other underlying conditions contributing to pneumonia must be eliminated to ensure rehabilitation.

IV fluids

Hospitalization is often necessary to treat pneumonia in dogs. In some instances, IV therapy may be used to push fluids that a dog may not be getting due to the illness and the listlessness it brings.

Oxygen therapy

Oxygen therapy via breathing tubes and bronchodilators may be necessary for a pup with severe difficulty breathing.

How To Help a Dog With Pneumonia at Home

Dog Pneumonia Home Remedies
Although a licensed veterinarian must be the one to diagnose and prescribe most forms of treatment for pneumonia in dogs, there are some things a loving pet parent can do.

  1. Reduce stress
  2. Antioxidants
  3. Clear irritants
  4. Clean noses
  5. Steam therapy

Reduce stress

Stress can suppress the immune system further, but it is even more critical for a dog with pneumonia to avoid stress. For example, even barking at a dog walking by could cause aspiration in a dog that is already experiencing difficulties. To obtain a calm and relaxing environment, consider keeping young kids away from the dog while they rest while restricting the dog’s activities.


Antioxidants are natural treasures that help alleviate symptoms for humans and animals. Home remedies like vitamin C are great for dogs and humans, as well as lung-specific nutriceuticals that a vet can recommend.

Clear Irritants

Ridding a house of stinky chemicals, cleaning products, allergens, and smoke can be incredibly beneficial to a dog’s health. When a dog is recovering from pneumonia, these steps are even more crucial.

Clean Noses

Humans know how annoying and uncomfortable it is to feel ill and have snot constantly running out of the nose. So do a pup a solid and gently wipe away eye nasal secretions, often with a lukewarm towel.

Steam therapy

Steam therapy is a simple and effective home remedy that only requires a shower. So go ahead and steam up the bathroom and hang in there with your sick pup. The steam will help ease coughing and congestion.

Recovery from Pneumonia in Dogs

Recovery for Pneumonia in Dogs
Along with the obvious things like supplying fresh water and food, dogs require some extra time when recovering from pneumonia.

  1. Rest
  2. Physiotherapy


Do not allow a dog with pneumonia to rest on one side for too long. This can cause fluid to build up on only one side and cause more complications. Encourage a dog with pneumonia to switch sides often when resting on one or the other,


Physiotherapy is like physical therapy but little to no exertion on the dog’s behalf.

Have you ever seen the sports players with their legs on some big guy’s shoulder who is bending and stretching it for them? That’s physiotherapy, though a certain gentleness is necessary when bending a dog’s leg.

Don’t mishandle a dog in the name of physiotherapy! This is primarily to avoid atrophy of the muscles since rest and inactivity are essential.

Dog Pneumonia Recovery Time

Many dogs fully recover from pneumonia, but it can be costly for severe cases, particularly in fungal pneumonia cases. In addition, some procedures and treatment processes can stretch anywhere from weeks to months!

A dog who had pneumonia but is deemed free and clear will need at least two or three weeks to allow the lungs to heal entirely before resuming any activities.

Pneumonia Survival Rate

Canine Pneumonia Survival Rate
The survival rate of pneumonia in dogs isn’t as bleak as one may think; many dogs recover fully with proper care.

A fatality from pneumonia in dogs may be a result of a second issue like:

  • Hypoxia -where the levels of oxygen in the blood get too low, or
  • Sepsis – where the infection spreads through the body.

In this study, the survival rate for dogs with aspirational pneumonia was about 77%, saying that an underlying condition didn’t negatively affect the outcome. In comparison, bacterial and fungal pneumonia cases are often incredibly dependent on the type of bacteria or fungi encountered.


Pneumonia is a scary word and condition, whether referring to an elderly family member or a canine best friend. But, hopefully, this article has eased the minds of some worried pet parents!

Pneumonia in dogs can be a severe condition. Still, with the help of a qualified veterinarian, and the information laid out here, your pup has the best possible chance of making a full recovery!