Chronic Bronchitis Dogs Life Expectancy

Dogs suffering from chronic bronchitis and tracheobronchitis (kennel cough) show many of the same symptoms however these different types of bronchitis differ in a few important ways. Today our Orange County vets share more about bronchitis in dogs and the symptoms to watch for.

Tracheobronchitis is an acute respiratory condition that typically lasts about 2 weeks and is one of the conditions commonly referred to as kennel cough. The name of this highly contagious condition stems from the fact that tracheobronchitis infects your dogs trachea or windpipe as well as the bronchial tubes.

There are a number of viruses that can cause this form of bronchitis in dogs including adenovirus type-2, parainfluenza virus, canine coronavirus, and the bacterium Bordetella bronchiseptica.

This form of bronchitis in dogs is high contagious. If your dog is showing any of the signs below isolate your pup from other dogs and contact your vet right away.

Dogs with tracheobronchitis typically develop a loud cough which is often described as sounding like a goose honk. Other signs of tracheobronchitis include cold-like symptoms such as:

If your dog is diagnosed with infectious tracheobronchitis their cough may persist for several weeks after the infection has cleared up.

Treatment for tracheobronchitis will depend on the underlying cause of your pups condition. Antibiotics can be used to treat bacterial infections such as Bordetella bronchiseptica, in other cases, your vet may prescribe medications such as cough suppressants and anti-inflammatory medications to help relieve your dogs symptoms.

Chronic bronchitis or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is a long-term inflammation of your dogs respiratory system which is irreversible and slowly progressive. Chronic bronchitis is characterized by symptoms lasting longer than 2 months, and is most often seen in toy and small dogs who are middle-aged or older.

The cause of this form of bronchitis is largely unknown but the condition may be associated with inhaled irritants such as tobacco smoke, air pollution, or allergins (allergic bronchitis in dogs). Recurring respiratory infections and the bacteria associated with dental disease may also play a role in the development of chronic bronchitis in dogs.

With proper disease management, clinical symptoms can be controlled, and lung damage can be slowed. As a result, the life expectancy for dogs with chronic bronchitis is not typically majorly impacted. With treatment, most dogs with COPD enjoy a normal life expectancy and an excellent quality of life.

What are the signs of COPD?

In its early stages, the main sign of COPD is chronic coughing, or coughing that persists for longer than a month. The cough is usually dry or harsh, and gagging is common after coughing.

As the disease progresses, difficulty breathing, decreased exercise tolerance (tires easily), or even fainting with overexertion may occur. Breathing may become noisy, and the pet may wheeze when exhaling.

In later stages, the gums may develop a bluish tinge as a result of lack of oxygen. Dogs with COPD rarely have a fever and usually their appetite remains normal.

Does it affect all breeds and ages of dogs?

COPD occurs in all breeds of dogs, but may be more common in small-breed and toy-breed dogs such as West Highland White Terriers and Cocker Spaniels. It most often affects middle-aged and older dogs.

What causes chronic bronchitis in dogs?

As mentioned, chronic bronchitis typically occurs when prolonged inflammation is present. It can also occur if the airways become injured in some way. Physical trauma or an acute issue like infection or a severe allergic reaction can all lead to airway injury. Additionally, prolonged allergies, severe infections, and long-term exposure to inhaled irritants can lead to airway fibrosis (i.e. scarring in the walls of the airways).


Can bronchitis be fatal in dogs?

Infectious tracheobronchitis results from inflammation of the upper airways. It is a mild disease that normally improves on its own. However, it can progress to fatal bronchopneumonia in puppies or to chronic bronchitis in weakened, ill, or aged dogs.

What can you give a dog for chronic bronchitis?

Specific medications that may be prescribed to treat COPD include bronchodilators to dilate the airways and help clear secretions, cough suppressants, antibiotics if there is evidence of a secondary bacterial infection, and/or corticosteroids to decrease the inflammation and ease the coughing.

How Long Can dogs live with lung disease?

The prognosis is guarded, with many dogs dying from progressive lung failure within 12–18 months.