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We have a cocker spaniel, and he has huge allergies. He has trouble breathing all of the time. We tried inhalers and breathing treatments. It seems to help for a few minutes but, after that, it is down hill again. He is allergic to a lot of things, but we keep that under direct supervision. Is there anything we can try to help his breathing problems?

Thank you so much,
Tasha

Dear Tasha,

Dogs with severe bronchitis or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) are a constant battle. The goal is to maintain a good quality of life, realizing that a cure is not an option. These dogs usually require ongoing prednisone treatment with periodic chest x-rays and courses of antibiotics to treat secondary pneumonias. At some point, you should have a BAL (broncoalveolar lavage) with culture and cytology to be sure that you have the right diagnosis.

The inhalers help some with the bronchospasm, but this is not as significant in dogs as it is in humans, so your response is relatively common. Treating the underlying allergies could help but usually will not prevent the episodes. Although it only helps sometimes, I always do a 4 – 6 week course of Doxycycline which will kill certain lung organisms. This is a very complex illness, and if you feel your dog is not getting a good enough quality of life, you might want to ask for referral to a veterinary internal medicine specialist.

-Dr. Weaver

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