Can Dogs Have Asthmas?
How To Treat Your Pup's Breathing Problems
By Austin Cannon Medically Reviewed by Deb M. Eldredge, DVM Updated July 27, 2022
Your veterinarian will need to diagnose it before treatment can start.
We humans with asthma can have a tough time without our inhalers. But what about our furry friends? Can dogs have asthma? Do they have inhalers, too?
Yes and yes, according to Lori Bierbrier, DVM and ASPCA Community Medicine's senior medical director. Asthma in dogs is usually caused by allergies, she says, but it's still not very common—and you'll want to make sure your pup isn't wheezing because of another breathing condition.
If you're worried that your dog might have asthma, here's what you should know.
Can Dogs Have Asthma?
It's uncommon, but yes. Of course, you'll need your veterinarian to determine if your dog has asthma. There are several conditions that can cause breathing problems in dogs—like kennel cough or even heart disease—so asthma might not be the culprit.
And remember: Brachycephalic (flat-faced) breeds, like English bulldogs, French bulldogs, and pugs, often have trouble breathing, Bierbrier says. But that's likely because of their anatomy rather than an affliction like asthma.
Signs and Symptoms of Asthma in Dogs
This is a serious illness, Bierbrier says, adding that there are several signs of asthma attacks in dogs, including:
Sudden difficulty breathing
Tongue turning a bluish color
If your dog starts exhibiting these signs, contact your veterinarian immediately. If they're unavailable, you may need to call or visit an emergency vet's office.
At the vet's office, the vet and vet techs will examine your dog and run some tests to check her respiratory system, Bierbrier says. Your dog will likely undergo an X-ray as well to determine if there's an infection anywhere in her chest.
Here's What Might Be Causing Your Dog's Asthma
Bierbrier says canine asthma is typically the result of your dog reacting to something she's allergic to. Some allergens may cause your dog to itch, but the ones that cause asthma attacks are airborne—pollen, dust mites, cigarette smoke, perfumes, and air fresheners.
You'll need your veterinarian to determine if your dog's asthma—or other health concerns—are caused by allergies. Thankfully, there are several ways you can test your dog for allergies. Just consult your veterinarian on the best way to do it for your pup.
How To Treat Asthma in Dogs
If your pup does indeed have asthma, you'll need to consult your vet on how to best treat her. They might prescribe medicine for your dog through an inhaler. In fact, some of it is the same medication we human asthmatics use. (My brand of inhaler is even a dog-friendly option. Solidarity!)
"Inhalers with prescription medication can be fitted to a mask and used to relax the airways and make it easier to breathe," Bierbrier says.
You'll need a veterinarian's blessing before you go the inhaler route, and they'll likely be able to train you and your dog how to use the medicine and mask.
And while the medicine can help fight off your dog's symptoms, you can also take preventative measures to keep your pup feeling good.
First, if it's hot and humid outside, stop your dog from exercising or exerting herself. (Even if your dog doesn't have asthma, you should still be aware when it's too hot outside for your dog.) You can also keep your house free of the allergens that could cause your dog's asthma to flare up, Bierbrier says. That includes:
Cleaning pet beds
Installing an air purifier
Smoking outside the house
Lessening the use of fragrances, perfumes, and air fresheners
If you follow that plan, you'll likely relieve some of your dog's—and your own—asthma symptoms.