“Why is my dog wheezing?” It’s understandable to want an answer to this question. After all, it can be concerning to suddenly see your beloved pet seemingly having issues breathing. There are a lot of potential dog wheezing causes, but the good news is, many of them can easily be addressed.
Here’s a look at some of the reasons dogs wheeze, how veterinarians deal with this issue, and some things you can do to keep it from happening to your dog.
The Most Common Dog Wheezing Causes
All dog breeds can have wheezing episodes. Wheezing occurs when a dog’s airways are blocked for some reason. It almost sounds like the dog is making whistling-type noises as air goes in and out of the lungs.
Wheezing may resolve on its own after a few seconds, or it could come back — making a trip to the vet necessary. If you notice that your dog doesn’t stop wheezing, or the gums look blue because of a lack of oxygen, see your vet immediately.1
The following are some potential reasons why a dog may wheeze.
Your Dog Has Allergies
Dogs may have allergies just like humans. Some dogs suffer from a condition known as allergic bronchitis. This occurs when the bronchial tubes in the lungs become irritated due to an allergen.2
Wheezing is the most common sign of allergic bronchitis. It might occur after the dog has been outside for a while, or you’ve gone on a walk. Dry, hacking coughs may also be an indication. If you notice either, see your vet. If a diagnosis of allergic bronchitis is made, there are several medications that are safe and effective.3
Something Is Blocking The Windpipe
A dog may inhale something that gets lodged in their windpipe, or even in their nostrils, leading to wheezing. The most common example is when a dog eats too fast and breathes in mid-bite. That can lead to a piece of food getting stuck. Unfortunately, some dogs like to chew on things they probably shouldn’t, like sticks. A small piece could become lodged.4
This is another instance where being observant is important. If your dog keeps wheezing constantly, that could be a sign something is blocking their windpipe. Stay calm, and get to the vet.5
Heartworms can sometimes contribute to wheezing. These tiny parasites don’t just stay in the heart. They can go to other organs, including the lungs.6
Even if your vet tells you your dog is wheezing due to heartworms, don’t automatically fear the worst. There are ways to manage the condition in a way that will not only help you keep your beloved companion by your side, but also to help them breathe a lot easier.7
Kennel cough is one of the more common dog wheezing causes. This is a very highly contagious respiratory condition that can either be due to a virus or bacterium.8
When dogs stay in doggie daycare or in a kennel (hence the name of the condition), they may pick up kennel cough. The vast majority of instances of kennel cough aren’t that serious, and your vet will likely prescribe medication to help ease symptoms (including wheezing). You’ll also need to keep your pooch away from other dogs in the neighborhood so they don’t get it.9
Other Potential Dog Wheezing Causes
- Heart disease — Some dogs with heart problems can start wheezing if too much fluid builds up in the lungs. Most of the time, this problem affects older dogs. But there are some instances where younger dogs have the issue. Signs of potential heart problems include lethargy and continual coughing.10
- Bronchitis — This is a condition caused by scarring in the bronchi, the tubes that send oxygen to the lungs from the tracheal Coughing and wheezing are two indications your dog may have this issue, especially if your dog has been coughing consistently for two months or more.11
- Asthma — Asthma can occur in dogs just like it can in humans. It’s an allergic reaction to a trigger in the air. An asthma attack can produce a lot of fluid and mucus that makes it hard to breathe and lead to wheezing as a result. Smaller breeds are more susceptible to asthma than larger dogs.12
- Pneumonia — Pneumonia is another lung issue that causes swelling and the accumulation of fluid, making it hard to breathe.13
If you have any reason whatsoever to believe your dog is suffering from one of the problems listed above, get to the vet as soon as you can.
How Vets Typically Address Wheezing
Whether the cause is kennel cough, environmental allergens, or some other reason, you should always bring your dog in to see your veterinarian if they’re making a wheezing sound. Before any medication can be administered, a diagnosis will have to be made by your vet. This will typically include listening to the lungs and heart, taking the dog’s temperature, and running various tests and scans.14
Once a diagnosis is made, your vet will come up with a plan of action tailored to your dog’s specific needs.
Tips To Help Your Dog Avoid Wheezing
As you learned earlier, certain allergens may lead to wheezing. And, there are some things you can do that may help reduce the chances of a reaction — whether you decide to put your pet through allergy testing or not. Here are just a few to consider.
- Potential indoor allergens could affect a dog’s breathing, including perfumes, cleaning products, shampoos, air fresheners, and scented candles. If possible, keep these products away from your dog. You might also want to think about using unscented detergent when cleaning your dog’s bedding.
- If you smoke, please don’t do it around your dog. Many of them simply can’t deal with secondhand smoke.
- Some outdoor allergens can get inside your home and cause airway irritation. Keeping your windows closed and keeping your vents and air ducts clean can go a long way toward keeping those irritants outside.
- Regular bathing may help keep your dog from itching due to allergies. If your dog is really bothered by allergies, a prescription shampoo can help keep that itching to a minimum.
- Before you take your dog outside for a walk, make sure the pollen count isn’t too high. Just like humans, dogs who spend a lot of time outside on high pollen count days can suffer allergic reactions. Also, consider washing your pup’s paws before you get back inside to reduce the risk of them bringing in allergens that could later cause health issues.15
Why Is My Dog Wheezing, And Should I Worry?
Many things can lead to wheezing in dogs. As a pet parent, the important thing is to get your furry friend in for an exam as soon as possible. Don’t panic if your dog starts wheezing, but make sure to take note of when and where it happens. This way, when you take your pup to the vet, you can give them all the information they need to make a correct diagnosis.16