Viral vs. Bacerial
- The type of treatment for canine pneumonia depends on whether your dog has viral or bacterial pneumonia. Viral treatment focuses on supportive care, like I.V. fluids, rest and medications to help the dog breathe; bacterial pneumonia is treated with antibiotics, I.V. fluids, breathing medications and rest.
- Expectorants like guaifenesin help clear the fluid accumulating in the lungs. It makes coughs more productive and helps your dog bring up phlegm. Your vet can administer it in her office, or she can prescribe it for home care. The main side effect is sleepiness.
- Bronchodilators, including theophylline, aminophylline, pentoxifylline and terbutaline, are used to relax the muscles around the airway walls to allow for easier breathing. The use of these drugs is controversial for dogs, because bronchodilators often have little effect in dogs and can cause nervousness, vomiting and lethargy.
- Your vet may prescribe a diuretic like furosemide. Diuretics help transport excess fluid from the lungs by increasing the dog's need to urinate. Diuretics shouldn't be used in animals with kidney damage or those who are dehydrated. Side effects include increased thirst, weakness, vomiting, drowsiness, restlessness and irregular heartbeat.
- Cephalosporins and broad spectrum penicillins are usually the first antibiotics used to treat bacterial pneumonia. They have fewer side effects than others and generally clear up the infection within three weeks. If cephalosporins and broad spectrum penicillins prove ineffective, your vet might prescribe Gentamicin. It has harsher side effects, and shouldn't be used for moderate cases of pneumonia. If your dog has an antibiotic-resistant strain of pneumonia, your vet might opt for Baytril or one of the fluoroquinolones. These drugs are effective, but can damage the cartilage, especially in younger dogs.