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Is Dry Nose a Sign of Illness in Dogs?

By Sarah Wooten, DVM

How Dogs Use Their Nose

Dog noses are fascinating little structures. Not only do dogs use their noses for breathing, dog noses also drain excessive tears from the eyes through tear ducts. In addition, they have sweat glands, which help to cool the body through sweating.

Dog noses are also involved in collecting information about the environment. They do this through sniffing, but not all of the “information” is carried through the nasal passage. When a dog licks her nose, she transfers all sorts of scents to specialized scent detection olfactory glands located on the roof the mouth. This allows the dog to process her environment.

Check out your dog the next time she is intently sniffing something; you will notice that she sniff, sniff, sniffs, and then licks her nose, transferring all the information about what other dogs, cats, squirrels, or other creatures might have left — a “scent mail”, if you will — for her to read.

Does a Warm, Dry Nose Mean a Dog is Sick?

Clients often ask me if their dog’s nose is warm and dry, does that mean the dog is sick? Not necessarily, I tell them. Some dogs have dry noses because they just don’t lick their noses often. Sometimes, however, a dog will have a warm, dry nose in relation to a fever, but it can get tricky. That is because if a dog has the flu, she can have a fever with a warm, dry, nose, or a wet, runny nose.

Dogs can also lick their noses excessively due to neurological conditions (partial seizures), excessive anxiety, behavioral reasons (dogs will lick their muzzles to signal submission), or because their nose itches from allergies.

If your dog is acting sick, feels warm, seems to licking her nose excessively, and/or is coughing or sneezing, then it is time to the see your veterinarian to figure out what is wrong, and then fix it.

Diseases That Can Cause Dry Nose in Dogs

There are some diseases that can cause a chronically dry nose. Auto-immune disorders, such as lupus or pemphigus, can cause changes in the surface of the nose that leads to dryness, cracking, and bleeding.

Auto-immune disorders are diagnosed with blood and urine testing, and a biopsy of the nose. They are treated with immuno-suppressive drugs, such as prednisone.

Severe allergic reactions to pollen, mold, food, etc. can lead to redness and swelling of the nose, as well as to excessive rubbing and scratching of the face. Allergies can be treated with anti-histamines, and in severe cases, steroids must also be prescribed.

Dry Nose from Sunburn and Face Shape in Dogs

Excessive sun exposure, especially in dogs that have pink skin, can cause sunburned skin on the nose that can peel and crack.

Still other dogs, especially brachycephalic breeds such as Pugs and Bulldogs, can’t lick their nose very well because of the conformation of their skull. These dogs will often develop a lumpy, crusty, chalky, cracked, uncomfortable nose in place of the cute little black button that used to sit on their face.

Treatment for Dry Nose in Dogs

For a case of chronically dry nose, your dog may benefit from a prescription lotion specifically designed to hydrate and nourish the skin on the nose.

Because dogs are nose lickers, whatever lotion is used must be safe for ingestion. Most skin lotions that are sold over the counter are not safe for ingestion. It is for this reason that I do not recommend treating the nose with any over the counter lotions unless your veterinarian has specifically recommended it to you.

If you notice changes in the way the skin on your dog’s nose looks, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to discuss options in diagnosis and treatment.

Read More

5 Dog Nose Facts You Probably Didn’t Know

Why Do Dogs Have Wet Noses?

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Why is My Dog Coughing? Common Causes and Treatment Options

by Jennifer Coates, DVM

The occasional cough in an otherwise healthy dog is usually nothing to worry about. But just like us, when a dog’s coughing becomes a constant or recurrent problem it can be a sign of serious illness. Knowing some of the most common causes of coughing in dogs can help you determine when you need to worry.

Coughing is associated with many different diseases in dogs and cats. Here are a few of the most common and some of the available forms of treatment.

Coughing Related to Infections

Viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites can all infect a dog’s upper respiratory tract, lung tissue (pneumonia), airways (bronchitis), or a combination thereof (bronchopneumonia), and cause dogs to cough. Kennel cough is the most common infectious cause of coughing. It can be caused by several different viruses and bacteria, alone or in combination. Canine influenza virus is becoming increasingly prevalent in the United States and leads to symptoms like coughing, fever, and nasal discharge.

Supportive care is an important part of treating coughs caused by infections. Dogs should be encouraged to rest, drink, and eat. Cough suppressants can help with especially severe symptoms.

Antibiotics are effective only against bacteria. Viral infections generally have to run their course. Other medications are available that work against some types of fungi and parasites.

Coughing Related to Heartworm Disease

Heartworms are transmitted through the bites of mosquitos that pick up larval forms of the parasite from one dog and pass them to another. The larva migrate to the heart and lungs of the newly infected dog, where they mature into spaghetti-like adults. Their presence and the inflammation that results can lead to potentially fatal heart and lung damage.

Heartworm preventative medications are extremely safe and effective. On the other hand, once the disease develops, treatment is costly and can be quite dangerous.

Coughing Related to Heart Disease

Many different types of heart disease can make dogs cough, including mitral valve endocardiosis, dilated cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure from multiple causes, and more.

Depending on the specific type of heart disease a dog has, a veterinarian may prescribe some combination of medications that make the heart pump more efficiently, normalize blood pressure, and reduce the abnormal build-up of fluid (e.g., pimobendan, enalapril, or furosemide). Other interventions like surgery or the placement of a pacemaker may be appropriate in some cases.

Coughing Related to Collapsing Trachea

Small dogs are at increased risk for a weakening of the cartilage rings that partially encircle the trachea. This causes the trachea to collapse in on itself, which leads to tracheal irritation and a chronic cough that is often described as sounding like a goose honk.  Medications that dilate airways, decrease inflammation, suppress coughing, and treat secondary infections can help, but in severe cases, surgery may be necessary to provide these dogs with an acceptable quality of life.

Coughing Related to Laryngeal Paralysis

Dogs with laryngeal paralysis cannot fully open the passageway into their windpipe (called the larynx) due to weakness of the nerves that control the muscles surrounding it. This leads to coughing as well as noisy breathing and shortness of breath.

Surgery to permanently hold open one side of the larynx can help ease the breathing of dogs with laryngeal paralysis, but it also puts them at higher risk for developing aspiration pneumonia… another cause of coughing in dogs.

Reverse Sneeze

While technically not a cough, many dog owners mistake the sound of a reverse sneeze with coughing. Reverse sneezes tend to occur in clusters and are produced when something (postnasal drainage, foreign material, parasites, etc.) irritates the back of the nasal passages.

Just like “normal” sneezes, reverse sneezes are nothing to worry about when they occur infrequently, but if they become severe or frequent, the dog should be seen by a veterinarian for diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Coughing Related to Chronic Bronchitis

When a dog is coughing due to chronic inflammation of the airways and no other cause can be identified, chronic bronchitis is the most likely diagnosis. Dogs with chronic bronchitis tend to have a dry, hacking cough that worsens with exercise or excitement and worsens over time.

Treatment includes medications that decrease inflammation (e.g., fluticasone or prednisolone) and dilate airways (e.g., albuterol or terbutaline). Ideally they are given by inhalation to reduce potential side effects, but they can also be given systemically if necessary.

Coughing Related to​ Foreign Objects

Sometimes dogs will inhale foreign material or objects that become lodged in their airways. The body’s natural response is to try to cough it out. If this is unsuccessful, the material must be removed either through the use of an endoscope or via surgery.

Coughing Related to Cancer

Coughing can be one of the first symptoms that owners notice when a dog has cancer of the lungs, other parts of the respiratory tract, heart, or surrounding tissues. Treatment may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or palliative therapy.

Diagnosing the Cause of a Dog’s Cough

The first step in treating a dog’s cough is figuring out its underlying cause. Your veterinarian will start the process by asking questions about your dog’s health history, travel, preventive care, the onset and progression of symptoms, etc. He or she will then perform a complete physical exam. Sometimes a tentative diagnosis can be reached at this point, but oftentimes reaching a definitive diagnosis will require some diagnostic testing. Depending on your dog’s unique situation, some combination of the following tests may be necessary:

  • A blood chemistry panel
  • Complete blood cell count
  • Serology to rule in or out various infectious diseases
  • A B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) blood test for heart disease
  • Urinalysis
  • Fecal examination
  • Chest x-rays
  • Echocardiography (an ultrasound of the heart)
  • Measurement of blood pressure
  • An electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • An examination of fluid samples taken from the airways

When is Coughing Serious?

If your dog has just recently developed a mild cough and seems to feel fine, taking a few days to see whether the condition will clear on its own is reasonable. However, if the cough is especially severe, worsens, or fails to improve over the course of a week or so, make an appointment with your veterinarian. Also, if your dog is lethargic, has difficulty breathing, isn’t interested in food, or has any other potentially serious symptoms, call your veterinarian immediately.

See Also

Image: Sneezing Dog, by Eric Sonstroem / Flickr

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Staph Infection in Dogs

Staphylococcal Infections in Dogs

The Staphylococcus bacteria can live free in the environment, on the skin of a host as a parasite, and in the upper respiratory tract of animals. The bacteria can be transmitted easily from animal to animal and in some cases from animal to human. This infection can be found in any breed of dog, and at any age.

Symptoms and Types

For dogs, other common indicators can include wound infections, toxic shock syndrome, abscesses on the skin or mouth, and arthritis.

Causes

Younger dogs are most prone to developing this infection, as their immune systems have not fully developed. Old dogs are also more susceptible, as their immune systems have become worn down. Other causes can include bacterial or fungal infections (pathogens) of the blood, chronic debilitating diseases that wear down the immune system, allergies, and other secondary infections.

Diagnosis

Your veterinarian will conduct a complete blood profile, including a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, and a urinalysis. Proper diagnosis will often involve skin testing to determine if the condition is caused by allergies or other immune related causes. It is also important to rule out abnormal cell development as an underlying cause of the condition.

upper respiratory tract

The section of the respiratory system that contains the mouth, nose, pharynx, larynx, trachea, and epiglottis.

urinalysis

An in-depth examination of the properties of urine; used to determine the presence or absence of illness

pyoderma

A disease of the skin in which it emits pus

pruritus

Something that causes itching

opportunistic

The ability to create a disease where a disease might not normally be found, usually due to an ill timed or unlikely weakness

arthritis

A medical condition in which the joints become inflamed and causes a great deal of pain.

pus

A product made of fluid, cell waste, and cells

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Sneezing, Reverse Sneezing (gasping in for air), and Gagging in Dogs

Sneezing refers to the normal behavior of expelling air to remove matter through the nasal cavity. Reverse sneezing, on the other hand, refers to the reflex of bringing air into the body to remove irritants in the upper area that lies behind the nostrils. Dogs may gag to remove irritants from the larynx; this is commonly misinterpreted as vomiting.

Symptoms and Types

Sneezing is often accompanied by a sudden movement of the head downwards, with a closed mouth, and may cause the dog’s nose to hit the ground. Reverse sneezing is often characterized by a backwards head motion, a closed mouth and lips sucking in. Gagging usually causes the dog to swallow after extending its neck and opening its mouth. Read more about dog sneezing episodes, and how they could impact your dog’s health, using the PetMD Symptom Checker

Causes

Any breed of dog can be affected by these medical behaviors. The most common causes for younger dogs include infections, the existence of a cleft palate, or bronchial infections. Another primary cause is the involuntary movement of the hairlike cilia that line the respiratory tract and act to remove foreign matter from the air before it reaches the lungs. This involuntary movement of the hair is medically termed ciliary dyskinesis. The most common causes for older dogs include nasal tumors and dental diseases. Other causes can be mucus irritation, nasal passage obstruction, inflammation, excess nasal discharge or secretion, pneumonia, chronic vomiting, and gastrointestinal disease. Under vaccinated or unvaccinated dogs are at a higher risk of developing infections, which may lead to consistent sneezing. Chronic dental disease can lead to both chronic sneezing and reverse sneezing. Mites found in the nasal openings can also be a cause for any of these physical reflexes.

Diagnosis

The first method of diagnosis is to distinguish between sneezing and reverse sneezing in the dog. Next, if the condition is serious, more in depth testing may be performed to see if there is a more serious underlying medical condition.

mucus

A type of slime that is made up of certain salts, cells, or leukocytes

larynx

The voice box; this is one part of the respiratory system

gastrointestinal

The digestive tract containing the stomach and intestine

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Sneezing, Reverse Sneezing and Gagging in Dogs

Sneezing refers to the normal behavior of expelling air to remove matter through the nasal cavity. Reverse sneezing, on the other hand, refers to the reflex of bringing air into the body to remove irritants in the upper area that lies behind the nostrils. Dogs may gag to remove irritants from the larynx; this is commonly misinterpreted as vomiting.

Symptoms and Types

Sneezing is often accompanied by a sudden movement of the head downwards, with a closed mouth, and may cause the dog’s nose to hit the ground. Reverse sneezing is often characterized by a backwards head motion, a closed mouth and lips sucking in. Gagging usually causes the dog to swallow after extending its neck and opening its mouth. Read more about dog sneezing episodes, and how they could impact your dog’s health, using the PetMD Symptom Checker

Causes

Any breed of dog can be affected by these medical behaviors. The most common causes for younger dogs include infections, the existence of a cleft palate, or bronchial infections. Another primary cause is the involuntary movement of the hairlike cilia that line the respiratory tract and act to remove foreign matter from the air before it reaches the lungs. This involuntary movement of the hair is medically termed ciliary dyskinesis. The most common causes for older dogs include nasal tumors and dental diseases. Other causes can be mucus irritation, nasal passage obstruction, inflammation, excess nasal discharge or secretion, pneumonia, chronic vomiting, and gastrointestinal disease. Under vaccinated or unvaccinated dogs are at a higher risk of developing infections, which may lead to consistent sneezing. Chronic dental disease can lead to both chronic sneezing and reverse sneezing. Mites found in the nasal openings can also be a cause for any of these physical reflexes.

Diagnosis

The first method of diagnosis is to distinguish between sneezing and reverse sneezing in the dog. Next, if the condition is serious, more in depth testing may be performed to see if there is a more serious underlying medical condition.

mucus

A type of slime that is made up of certain salts, cells, or leukocytes

larynx

The voice box; this is one part of the respiratory system

gastrointestinal

The digestive tract containing the stomach and intestine

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Runny Nose in Dogs

Nasal Discharge in Dogs

The throat is the end of the two major air passages, which begin at the nostrils. Very fine scrolls of bone called turbinates fill the nasal passages. They have a covering of pink tissue (mucosa), much like the lining of the mouth. As the air passes through the turbinates in the nose, it is warmed and filtered on its way to the lungs. The nasal cavity is separated from the mouth by what we call the “roof” or the hard palate.

The source of a nasal discharge is typically in the upper respiratory organs such as nasal cavities, sinuses, and the postnasal area. However, if the dog has a swallowing disorder or a digestive tract disease, secretions may be forced into the postnasal area. If the secretions are coming from the eye, it may be caused by nerve damage to the middle ear.

This nasal discharge may be watery, thick and mucus-like, or it may have pus or blood in it. (Blood-tinged discharge is a good indicator that there is a blood disorder.) Nasal discharge usually occurs when infectious, chemical, or inflammatory invaders irritate the nasal passages. It may also be from a foreign object that has become lodged in the nose. If your dog has a middle ear disease, it may decrease the normal secretions and cause the animal to secrete an abnormal amount of mucus.

Remember that it is normal for your dog to sneeze and have a nasal discharge, just as it is for humans. It is only when it becomes severe or chronic that you need to become concerned.

Symptoms

  • Inflamed eyes(s)
  • Reduction in nasal air flow
  • Diseased teeth
  • Secretions or dried discharge on the hair of the muzzle or forelimbs
  • Swelling of face or hard palate (due to tumor or abscess of fourth premolar)
  • Polyp (may be visible on ear exam, or by pushing the soft palate down on oral exam)

Causes

  • Dental disease
  • Infectious agents (i.e., bacteria, fungi)
  • Foreign bodies (primarily occuring in outdoor animals)
  • Nasal mites (primarily occuring in kennel-raised dogs)
  • Weak immune system
  • Chronic steroid use
  • Chronic pneumonia
  • Chronic vomiting
  • Chronic inflammation of the ear
  • Cancer (more likely in middle-sized to large dogs with long noses)

Diagnosis

  • Rhinoscopy
  • Dental exam
  • Culture of discharge for fungus and bacteria
  • Biopsy of nasal cavity
  • Bronchoscopy, if discharge has been accompanied by coughing
  • Blood pressure and blood test, including coagulation profile
  • Tear test to evaluate for possible facial nerve damage from chronic ear infections

premolar

The teeth found between the canine teeth and molars

pus

A product made of fluid, cell waste, and cells

turbinates

Bones inside the nasal cavity

nerve

A bundle of fibers that are used in the process of sending impulses through the body

steroid

The term for a type of medication that impacts immunity, metabolism, sexual characteristics, and other such elements of a living thing

muzzle

The term for the nostrils and muscles in the upper and lower lips of an animal; may also be used to describe a type of tool used to keep an animal from biting

digestive tract

The whole system involved in digestion from mouth to anus

mites

Any type of arachnid excluding ticks

mucus

A type of slime that is made up of certain salts, cells, or leukocytes

abscess

A localized infection, usually a lesion filled with pus. Can be large or small in size.

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Dog Wheezing: Causes and Treatment Options

By Sarah Wooten, DVM

Wheezing is caused when something blocks the normal flow of air in and out of the airway, resulting in a whistling sound as a dog breathes. The blockage can be in either the trachea (windpipe) or large bronchi.

Constricted airways from asthma, allergies, mucus, foreign bodies, or infection can all result in wheezing. If a dog feels like he can’t get enough air, he may panic, or he may find a spot to lie down to try to breathe better. 

Non-emergency wheezing usually lasts only a few seconds. It may resolve on its own, or return intermittently, necessitating a trip to the veterinarian to sort things out.

If your dog is wheezing continuously, or his gums have a blue-ish tint indicating that he isn’t getting enough oxygen, or if your dog seems uncomfortable breathing, those are signs that the wheezing is potentially life-threatening; you will need to take your dog to an emergency veterinarian immediately.

The Most Common Causes of Wheezing in Dogs

Many things can cause wheezing in dogs. The following is a list of the most common causes.

Wheezing Related to Infectious Disease

Dogs can contract parasites that live in the lungs and airways, causing secondary conditions due to irritation of the respiratory tissues. Heartworms can cause wheezing, as can aberrant migrations of hookworms or roundworms.

One common cause of wheezing and reverse sneezing is nasal mites, a common parasite that is highly infectious between dogs. Dogs can carry nasal mites for years and the only sign you may see is wheezing or sneezing when the dog gets excited.

Bacterial and viral diseases can also cause wheezing and coughing. Dogs with wheezing due to infectious disease typically have a history of being around other dogs, such as being in an area where other dogs frequent, like the dog park, doggie daycare, or groomer.

Wheezing Related to Allergies

Dogs can have allergies just like people. Pollen, mold, dust mites, cigarette smoke, etc. can all cause allergies in dogs, including allergic asthma, which causes dogs to wheeze from constricted airways.

Dogs that wheeze due to seasonal allergies may only have problems during part of the year.

Wheezing Related to Collapsing Trachea or Bronchitis

In the dog, the windpipe is comprised of cartilage in a C-shape that is closed by a membrane that is flexible. In some small breed dogs, that membrane can get loose or floppy over time, and as the dog breathes in, the trachea can collapse on itself, narrowing the airway and making it more difficult for the dog to breathe. Collapsing trachea is common in Pugs, Maltese, Shih Tzus, Lhasa Apsos, and other small, short-nosed breeds. Excitement or exercise can make this type of wheezing worse.

Chronic bronchitis can also cause scarring in the airways, which can make the bronchi less flexible, leading to constant wheezing and coughing.

Wheezing Related to Heart Disease

Dogs that have congestive heart failure due to heart valve disease can also wheeze due to fluid build-up in the lungs. Dogs that have wheezing due to heart failure are typically older, though they can also be young, in rare instances. They tend to have a low energy level along with a persistent cough.

Wheezing Related to a Foreign Body

Wheezing due a foreign body in the airways is always an emergency. This tends to be a problem in dogs that chew on bones, balls, or toys; especially younger dogs. Dogs that like to run with balls in their mouth have been known to accidentally suck the ball down their throat.

If a foreign body completely obstructs the airway, a dog will pass out from the lack of oxygen. If the object only partially obstructs the airway, the dog will wheeze violently and may panic.

If you suspect that your dog is wheezing due to something he inhaled, take your dog to a veterinarian immediately for treatment. This issue cannot be resolved at home.  

 

Diagnosis of Wheezing in Dogs

A veterinarian will need a detailed history from you – events leading up to the wheezing, when your dog first started to experience breathing problems, etc. Be sure to know your dog’s travel history, any medications that your dog is on, including heartworm prevention, and your dog’s vaccine history.

The physical exam, and possibly laboratory testing, will be used to determine the cause of your dog’s wheezing. Laboratory testing may include bloodwork, x-ray, and/or other testing as needed.

Treatment for Wheezing in Dogs

Treatment depends on the cause of the wheezing. With foreign bodies, your veterinarian will likely sedate your dog and remove the foreign body with medical instruments. If your dog is wheezing due to infectious causes, treatment will be aimed at eliminating those infections. 

If the wheezing is due to allergic asthma or bronchitis, your veterinarian will talk to you about medications that can be used to control that condition, and things you can do at home to reduce allergens for your dog, such as vacuuming, HEPA air filters, etc.

If the wheezing is due to heart disease, your veterinarian may prescribe medications to help the heart pump stronger and more easily.  Wheezing due to a collapsing trachea is treated with cough medication and by controlling the pet’s environment; i.e., making sure the pet has a cool place to rest where it cannot get overheated.

An Ounce of Prevention…

Some causes of wheezing cannot be prevented. However, infectious causes, such as kennel cough, heartworm disease, hookworms, roundworms, and highly infectious viruses such as distemper, can be prevented with proper vaccination and internal parasite control.

Heartworm infection can be fatal – signs like wheezing may not be present until the infection has gone too far for treatment options. When your veterinarian reminds you to get heartworm prevention for your dog, make sure to get it and give it to your dog regularly, as advised by your veterinarian, and follow all vaccine recommendations for your dog.

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Poisoning by Petroleum Products in Dogs

Petroleum Hydrocarbon Toxicosis in Dogs

Petroleum hydrocarbon toxicosis is a severe and disease-like reaction  that occurs when a dog is exposed to refined petroleum oil products, or ingests products of this type.

Petroleum products that commonly poison small animals are fuels, solvents, lubricants, and waxes, as well as some pesticides and paints that have a petroleum base. Petroleum products like benzene and mineral spirits are more likely to be inhaled into the lungs, causing chemical pneumonitis, a life-threatening condition in which the petroleum product spreads all over the surface of the lungs, causing inflammation. Products that have an aromatic, ring-like chemical structure, such as benzene, are most likely to cause systemic toxicity (throughout the body).

Putting petroleum products like gasoline or kerosene on a dog’s skin, or near its mouth, will poison it. Dogs are sometimes exposed to these products through exposure to accidental spills, and sometimes people will put gasoline, or other solvents, on a dog to remove something that has gotten onto its skin or hair, such as paint and other sticky substances.

Do not induce vomiting with this type of poisoning, as the substance may do more harm coming back through the esophagus than it did going down. Or, your dog could breath some of the toxin into its lungs, causing aspiration pneumonia.

Cats are also susceptible to petroleum hydrocarbon toxicosis. If you would like to learn more about how this condition affects cats, please visit this page in the PetMD health library.

Symptoms and Types

  • Pet smells like a petroleum product
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Difficulty breathing (i.e., choking, coughing, gagging)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Blue-purple colored skin/gums
  • Excessive salivation
  • Pawing at the muzzle
  • Champing the jaws
  • Head-shaking
  • Instability/trouble walking (ataxia)
  • Tremors and convulsions (rare)
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Loss of consciousness/comatose
  • Loss of all body functions

Causes

  • Inhalation, ingestion, direct contact with petroleum hydrocarbons: gasoline, benzenes, kerosene, paint thinner, linseed oil, and turpentine (the last two are not hydrocarbons, but the toxic effect on the body is very similar)
  • Toxicity can result from swallowing petroleum hydrocarbons, having petroleum hydrocarbons on the skin, having petroleum hydrocarbons in the fur, or from breathing fumes from petroleum hydrocarbons

Diagnosis

You will need to give a thorough history of your dog’s health, including a background history of symptoms, and possible incidents that might have led to this condition. The history you provide may give your veterinarian clues as to which organs are being affected by the toxin, as well as to be able to rule out other toxicities, such as ethylene glycol or drug exposure. If you can take a sample of your dog’s vomit to your veterinarian, treatment can possibly be administered with more immediacy.

A complete blood profile will be conducted, including a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, a urinalysis, and an electrolyte panel. Your veterinarian will test vomit or stomach contents for petroleum distillates. Some animals develop aspiration pneumonia from inhalation of a petroleum product. Your veterinarian will take X-ray images of the chest to look for evidence of inflammation and pneumonia, so that it can be treated immediately.

systemic

Something that is related to the whole body and not just one particular part or organ

urinalysis

An in-depth examination of the properties of urine; used to determine the presence or absence of illness

muzzle

The term for the nostrils and muscles in the upper and lower lips of an animal; may also be used to describe a type of tool used to keep an animal from biting

lavage

Irritating tissue with a great deal of some type of fluid

esophagus

The tube that extends from the mouth to the stomach

ataxia

A medical condition in which an animal is unable to control the movements of their muscles; may result in collapse or stumbling.

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Pneumonia (Aspiration) in Dogs

Pneumonia from Inhalation of Foreign Matter in Dogs

Aspiration (or inhalation) pneumonia is a condition in which a dog’s lungs become inflamed due to the inhalation of foreign matter, from vomiting, or from the regurgitation of gastric acid contents. Aspiration pneumonia can also be a direct result of a neuromuscular disorder, which would cause difficulty with swallowing, as well as problems associated with the esophagus, with possible paralysis of the esophagus.

Other causes for a dysfunction of the lungs may be an obstructed airway, or inhalation of gastric acids, which can cause extensive damage to the internal tissues of the lungs. Bacteria present in the inhaled foreign matter may also bring about infection.

Aspiration pneumonia is more prevalent in dogs than cats. If you would like to learn how this disease affects cats, please visit this page in the PetMD health library.

Symptoms and Types

Symptoms of aspiration pneumonia include breathing difficulties, swallowing difficulties, coughing, fever, discharge from the nasal passages, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, a bluish tinge to the skin (cyanosis), and a possible intolerance to exercise due to weakness. An altered mood, vomiting, loss of appetite, and regurgitation may also be present, depending on the underlying reasons for this condition. 

Causes

Common causes associated with aspiration pneumonia include abnormalities associated with the pharynx and neuromuscular disorders, which affect both the nerves and muscles.

An enlargement of the lower aspect of the dog’s esophagus (due to regurgitation of gastric acid), or an incorrectly placed feeding tube can also lead to aspiration pneumonia.

Diagnosis

Your veterinarian will conduct a thorough physical examination using visual and audio diagnostic tools in order to gain a full perspective of the condition of the dog’s lungs. Further testing, such as abdominal palpation, chest X-rays, a complete blood profile, including a chemical blood profile, and a complete blood count, may also be called for.

Blood tests will indicate the presence of infection, and chest X-rays will show if aspiration pneumonia is present. Fluid may be taken from the lungs for the purpose of defining whether there are bacteria present, and if so, will help determine which antibiotic will best serve in healing your dog.

If your pet is suffering from respiratory distress, your veterinarian may suggest a blood gas analysis, which is a test that measures the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide concentrations in the blood.

Your veterinarian may also order a swallowing study for the purpose of concluding whether or not there is a dysfunction of the esophagus. An internal flourescent video X-ray, called a fluoroscopy, may be considered as well, to further assess the muscles of the esophagus, and their ability to move food down to the stomach.

palpation

Examination through feeling

pharynx

A cavity in the mouth where the respiratory systems and gastrointestinal systems come together

regurgitation

The return of food into the oral cavity after it has been swallowed

neuromuscular

The area found between the muscles and the endings of the nerves

gastric

Anything having to do with the stomach

dehydration

A medical condition in which the body has lost fluid or water in excessive amounts

esophagus

The tube that extends from the mouth to the stomach

acute

Term used to imply that a situation or condition is more severe than usual; also used to refer to a disease having run a short course or come on suddenly.

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Nose Bleed in Dogs

Epistaxis in Dogs

A bleeding nose can come from several sources. One may be the result of a condition called coagulopathy — a condition where the blood is not coagulating as it should. There are several other possible causes for nose bleeds, such as a wound or injury that is not apparent, as from a snake bite,  or it may be from a disease, like cancer in an organ, leukemia, or a number of other diseases. Regardless of the cause, this is a condition that needs to be checked by your veterinarian promptly.

The condition or disease described in this medical article can affect both dogs and cats. If you would like to learn more about how this disease affects cats, please visit this page in the PetMD health library.

Diagnosis

It will probably take time and several tests to determine what is causing the bleeding. The veterinarian will first need to know if your dog has a reduced number of red blood cells, indicating anemia, and if so, how critical it is. Other tests that will be ordered by your veterinarian are blood analyses to determine whether the blood platelets are normal, a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, a urinalysis, and tests to determine whether there is bone-marrow disease. To determine whether the bleeding is caused by a coagulation problem, a coagulation profile will also be conducted.

Your veterinarian will also need to determine whether there is evidence of Rocky Mountain spotted fever. A thyroid test will be performed, and some x-rays may be required, as well as a computerized axial tomography (CAT) scan.

platelet

A cell that aids in clotting

radiation therapy

A treatment of certain neoplasms that is administered using an x ray

urinalysis

An in-depth examination of the properties of urine; used to determine the presence or absence of illness

leukemia

An increase in the number of bad white blood cells

hemophilia

A genetic condition in which blood does not properly coagulate

blood pressure

The amount of pressure applied by the blood on the arteries.

epinephrine

A type of hormone, also called adrenaline

anemia

A condition of the blood in which normal red blood cell counts or hemoglobin are lacking.

hemorrhage

Extreme loss of blood