URI in Dogs: What You Need to Know

icon May 4, 2023

Your dog has a sudden runny nose and cough that you think will recover in a few days, but it's not. They may have an upper respiratory infection and if left untreated, it can lead to pneumonia or bronchitis. In this article, we will discuss the signs, symptoms, and treatment options for dog Upper Respiratory Infections.

What is URI in Dogs? How Do Dogs Get Them?

Upper Respiratory Infections (URIs) are a common ailment in dogs that can cause discomfort and distress. These infections can affect the nose, throat, and sinus cavities, and can be caused by various factors, including viral or bacterial infections, environmental irritants, and allergies. In this article, we will discuss the signs, symptoms, and treatment options for dog Upper Respiratory Infections.

Dogs can get Upper Respiratory Infections (URIs) from various sources. The most common way dogs contract URIs is through direct contact with an infected dog. For example, if a dog comes into contact with the nasal secretions or saliva of an infected dog, it can contract the virus or bacteria that causes the infection.

Dogs can also get URIs from environmental irritants such as pollen, dust, or mold. Allergies to these substances can cause inflammation and irritation in the respiratory tract, making the dog more susceptible to infections.

In some cases, dogs can develop URIs after undergoing a medical procedure or surgery. The stress of the procedure and the use of anesthesia can weaken the immune system, making the dog more vulnerable to infections.

Certain breeds of dogs, such as brachycephalic breeds (e.g. Bulldogs, Pugs, and Boxers), are more susceptible to respiratory infections due to their shortened snouts and airways. This can make it more difficult for them to breathe and can increase their risk of contracting respiratory infections.

Types of Upper Respiratory Infections in Dogs

There are several types of upper respiratory infections (URIs) that can affect dogs. These infections can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or other organisms. Here are some of the most common types of URIs in dogs:

Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease (CIRD), often referred to as kennel cough or Canine Respiratory Disease Complex is a group of respiratory infections caused by a combination of viruses and bacteria. The most common viruses involved are canine parainfluenza virus, canine adenovirus, and canine distemper virus. The most common bacterial causes are Bordetella bronchiseptica and Mycoplasma spp.

Canine Influenza: Canine influenza is a respiratory disease caused by the influenza A virus. There are two strains of canine influenza virus, H3N8, and H3N2, that can cause respiratory illness in dogs.

Canine Herpesvirus: This virus can cause respiratory and reproductive problems in dogs. It is most commonly seen in puppies and can cause severe respiratory symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, and nasal discharge.

Pneumonia: Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or other organisms. It can result in severe respiratory symptoms and can be life-threatening if not treated promptly.

Fungal Infections: Fungal infections such as Aspergillosis can affect the respiratory system of dogs and cause respiratory symptoms.

Signs of Upper Respiratory Infection in Dogs

The signs and symptoms of Upper Respiratory Infections in dogs can vary depending on the severity of the infection. Some common symptoms include:

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite

Vet explains if dogs can catch the severe cold currently flooring humans -  Wales Online

In more severe cases, dogs may experience difficulty breathing, nasal discharge, and a swollen throat. If left untreated, Upper Respiratory Infections can lead to more serious health problems such as pneumonia or bronchitis.

Diagnosis of Upper Respiratory Tract Infections in Dogs

If you suspect your dog has an Upper Respiratory Infection, it is important to take them to a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis. The vet will conduct a physical examination and may recommend additional tests such as blood work, a chest x-ray, or a culture and sensitivity test to determine the cause of the infection.

Treatment of Dog With an Upper Respiratory Infection

Treatment for Upper Respiratory Infections in dogs typically involves a combination of medications and supportive care. Depending on the severity of the infection and the underlying cause, the vet may prescribe antibiotics, antiviral medications, or anti-inflammatory drugs to help manage symptoms and speed up the healing process.

Recommended antibiotics

Doxycycline+Cough suppressant

For respiratory tract infections and inflammation, cold and cough, bronchitis, pneumonia

Relieves phlegm and cough

Dogs Upper Respiratory Infection (URI) Bundle

In addition to medication, supportive care can also be helpful in managing Upper Respiratory Infections in dogs. This may include providing a warm and comfortable environment, encouraging rest and relaxation, and offering plenty of fluids to keep the dog hydrated.

For dogs with serious complications such as pneumonia, your dog may need to be kept in a veterinary hospital for oxygen supplementation, intravenous antibiotics and rehydration.

Upper Respiratory Infection in Dogs Home Treatment

Here are some home remedies and supportive care measures that can help manage URIs in dogs:

Keep your dog hydrated: Make sure your dog has access to plenty of fresh water. You can also encourage them to drink by offering chicken broth or a watered-down version of their favorite wet food.

Use a humidifier: A humidifier can help relieve nasal congestion and ease breathing. Place a humidifier in the room where your dog spends most of their time.

Steam therapy: Steam therapy can help loosen mucus and soothe irritated airways. Bring your dog into a steamy bathroom for 10-15 minutes a few times a day.

Provide soft and easily digestible food: Offer your dog soft and easily digestible food, such as boiled chicken and rice or canned food, which can be gentler on their digestive system.

Use saline nasal drops: Saline nasal drops can help relieve congestion and clear nasal passages. You can administer 1-2 drops in each nostril a few times a day.

Boost their immune system: Supporting your dog's immune system can help them fight off infection. You can do this by giving them immune-boosting supplements, such as vitamin C, echinacea, or colloidal silver.

How Long is a Dog with Upper Respiratory Infection Contagious?

In general, however, dogs with URI can be contagious for several weeks.

Dogs infected with canine parainfluenza virus, canine adenovirus, and canine distemper virus can shed the virus for several weeks, even after they have recovered from the infection. Therefore, it is important to isolate infected dogs from other dogs to prevent the spread of the infection.
Dogs infected with Bordetella can remain contagious for up to 14 days after the onset of symptoms.

How to Prevent Your Dog from Developing an Upper Respiratory Infection?

Preventing Upper Respiratory Infections in dogs can be challenging, but there are a few steps that pet owners can take to minimize the risk. Some tips for preventing URIs in dogs include:

  • Keeping your dog up to date on vaccinations, including the Bordetella vaccine.
  • Minimizing exposure to sick animals, especially in high-risk environments like dog parks or boarding facilities.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect your dog's food and water bowls, bedding, and toys.
  • Maintaining good hygiene practices, such as washing your hands after handling animals and keeping your dog's living space clean and well-ventilated.



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