Pneumonia in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, & Treatments

Four Minutes
Oct 13, 2023

Pneumonia is a type of dog disease that causes inflammation of the respiratory system, such as the respiratory tract and lungs.1 Your pup may come across a few different types of pneumonia, most commonly aspiration pneumonia and bacterial pneumonia.2 So what can you do to protect your furry friend’s immune system? Let’s talk about the causes of pneumonia, symptoms to look out for, and what to do if your dog has already been infected.

Symptoms of Pneumonia in Dogs

Before you can treat your dog’s pneumonia, it’s important to know what you’re looking for. Signs of pneumonia in dogs may include:1,2,3,4

  • Nasal discharge
  • Weight loss
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Blue gums (in rare, severe cases)
  • Lethargy or fatigue
  • Dog coughing spells
  • Nose whistling or runny nose

Upon noticing any of these symptoms, it’s important to get in touch with your vet immediately to make sure your dog’s health doesn't get worse.

How Do Dogs Get Pneumonia?

There are a few common causes of pneumonia in dogs, depending on the type of pneumonia you’re dealing with. Overall, it has to do with the irritation of your pup’s respiratory system. For example, aspiration pneumonia in dogs, one of the most common kinds, is caused by the accidental inhalation of food or vomit. Similarly, a cause of infectious pneumonia — particularly bacterial pneumonia — is the inhalation of a foreign object, such as grass seeds. Fungal pneumonia is commonly caused by the inhalation of fungus from contaminated soil the dog has come in contact with.2

In some instances, severe cases of infectious viruses and bacterial infections, like canine influenza or kennel cough, may also develop into pneumonia.2

How To Treat Pneumonia in Dogs

When you notice your dog showing signs of pneumonia, it’s important to take them to the vet as soon as possible. Cases of pneumonia that go untreated may lead to further complications and the need for a stay in the animal hospital. Your veterinarian may want to perform a physical examination, chest X-ray, and blood work, as well as discuss your dog’s medical history to get a better idea of the diagnosis at hand.

Once your vet diagnoses your dog with pneumonia, they may prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications to address pain and any fevers, along with other medicines to address breathing difficulties, such as bronchodilators or nebulization.5 If symptoms don’t improve, your veterinarian may prescribe hospital treatment, including an IV, extra fluids, and possibly oxygen therapy.1,5

Need to See a Vet?

Pet Insurance Can Help

How to help a dog with pneumonia at home

If going to the vet isn’t an option for you, there are still actions you can take to help your pup feel better. Home treatments for pneumonia in dogs may include:1,5

  • Reducing physical activities
  • Periods of calm and rest away from other pets and visitors, such as children
  • Plenty of fluids to stay hydrated
  • Keeping their environments warm and dry

If you can’t afford to pay for a visit to the vet, MetLife Pet Insurance may be able to help. A dog insurance policy could help cover the cost of treatments, such as X-rays, hospital stays, medications, and more.

Frequently Asked Questions

Now that you know a little more about pneumonia in dogs, let’s cover some frequently asked questions.

Is pneumonia contagious in dogs?

Unfortunately, yes. As we said above, certain viruses and bacteria that lead to pneumonia — like kennel cough, canine influenza, or canine distemper — should be on your radar as a pet parent.2

What is the dog pneumonia survival rate?

According to Kingsdale Animal Hospital, with treatment, the survival rate of dog pneumonia is 70% – 90%. Left untreated, dogs may develop complications, which could lead to fatality.6

What is the dog pneumonia recovery time?

For many of us, watching our dogs fall ill can be disheartening. So how fast can a dog recover from pneumonia?7 If you act quickly, your dog’s pneumonia can resolve, with treatment, in 3 – 5 weeks. Typically, your dog may need medication for this period, and their vet may want to perform check-in X-rays to confirm the pneumonia is subsiding.7

How much does it cost to treat pneumonia in dogs?

Treating pneumonia in dogs may come with a cost. For instance, antibiotics or other medication can cost you about $50 – $150, and oxygen support may cost about $130.8 X-rays may also tack on another expense (about $200 – $300), and if your pup needs hospitalization, specialized treatment could cost several thousand dollars.8,9

Don’t worry! If you can’t swing the treatment out of pocket, pet insurance may help cover the costs — even if your dog is hospitalized.

For more information on how we can help provide for your furry family, read our article on how pet insurance works. Then, fetch a quote to get started.

We Can Help You Protect Your Pup

**As with any insurance policy, coverage may vary. Review our coverage and exclusions.

1 “Pneumonia in Dogs,” Merck Manual Veterinary Manual, 2022

2 “Pneumonia in Dogs: Types, Clinical Signs, Treatment & Prevention,” Hill’s Pet, 2022

3 “Bacterial Pneumonia and Bronchopneumonia in Dogs,” VCA Animal Hospitals

4 “Types of Pneumonia in Dogs,” Animal Emergency Center

5 “Signs & Symptoms of Pneumonia in Dogs,” Caring Hands Veterinary & Hospitality Center

6 “How To Recognize And Treat Pneumonia In Dogs,” Kingsdale Animal Hospital

7 “How to Treat Pneumonia in Dogs,” Falls Road Animal Hospital

8 “How to Treat Pneumonia in Dogs at Home,” Carolina Veterinary Specialists, Charlotte

9 “Pneumonia in Dogs: Types and Treatment Recommendations,” Great Pet Care, 2022

Coverage issued by Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, and Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 11333 N Scottsdale Rd, Ste 160, Scottsdale, AZ 85454. Coverage subject to restrictions, exclusions and limitations and application is subject to underwriting. See policy or contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC (“MetLife Pet”) for details. MetLife Pet is the policy administrator. It may operate under an alternate or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota) and MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois).

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