Does Doxycycline Treat Bronchitis In Dogs?

What is bronchitis in dogs?

Bronchitis in dogs is an inflammation and infection of the trachea and large bronchi, which are the breathing tubes in the lungs. The main symptoms of bronchitis in dogs include a harsh, dry cough, breathing difficulties, and wheezing. The coughing often worsens at night or after exercise. There are two types of bronchitis in dogs:

Acute bronchitis occurs suddenly and lasts up to 2 weeks. It is often caused by a virus such as parainfluenza, adenovirus, or mycoplasma. Acute bronchitis in dogs can also be caused by irritants like smoke or pollution getting into the lungs and bronchi (1).

Chronic bronchitis is long-term bronchial inflammation that lasts for months or years. It can develop after repeated bouts of acute bronchitis and damages the cilia (hair-like cells that move mucus in the respiratory tract). Chronic bronchitis is caused by bacteria, allergies, heart disease, and passive smoking. Both forms of bronchitis in dogs cause inflammation and excess mucus build-up, which narrows the airways and causes breathing difficulties (2).

Is bronchitis in dogs contagious?

Bronchitis in dogs typically is not contagious between dogs. The most common causes of bronchitis in dogs are irritants, allergies, an infection, or underlying disease rather than it passing from dog to dog. There are some exceptions when bronchitis can potentially spread between dogs:

Infectious tracheobronchitis, also known as kennel cough, is a highly contagious respiratory infection in dogs that can cause bronchitis. It usually spreads via airborne droplets and direct contact between infected dogs. Kennel cough is common in crowded environments like shelters, boarding facilities, dog parks etc. Isolating infected dogs and proper hygiene/disinfection is important to control outbreaks (

Dogs with chronic bronchitis that is not caused by an infection are unlikely to pass the condition directly to other dogs. However, the same irritants or allergens could trigger bronchitis in dogs that are exposed to them. Keeping susceptible dogs away from these environmental triggers can help prevent spreading non-infectious bronchitis (

Diagnosing bronchitis in dogs

Diagnosing bronchitis in dogs typically involves a combination of diagnostic tests, imaging, and lab work. According to the American Kennel Club, vets will start with a thorough physical exam, listening to the dog’s chest with a stethoscope for wheezing, crackling, or other abnormal sounds 1. They’ll also check the dog’s vital signs and look for signs of fever, which can indicate infection.

From there, the vet may recommend:

  • Chest X-rays to look for inflammation and rule out other lung issues like pneumonia. X-rays can also assess the severity of the condition.
  • Blood work to check for infection and underlying conditions.
  • Bronchoscopy – using an endoscope camera to visually inspect the airways.
  • Tracheal wash to collect fluid and examine cells.
  • Sputum cultures to identify any infectious organisms.

Through these diagnostic tests, vets can definitively diagnose bronchitis and determine appropriate treatment options for the individual dog.

Treatment options for bronchitis in dogs

The treatment for bronchitis in dogs depends on whether it is acute or chronic bronchitis. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, treatment for acute bronchitis usually involves rest, warmth, increased fluid intake, and cough suppressants. Antibiotics may be prescribed if there is a bacterial infection present (Merck Veterinary Manual).

For chronic bronchitis, the main goal of treatment is to reduce inflammation and mucus production in the airways. Corticosteroids like prednisone are commonly prescribed to decrease inflammation. Other drugs that may be used include bronchodilators to open the airways, expectorants to loosen mucus, and cough suppressants. Antibiotics may be given if there is a bacterial infection. According to the AKC, doxycycline is one antibiotic that is sometimes prescribed for bronchitis in dogs (AKC).

Besides medication, other aspects of treatment involve keeping the air warm and humidified, avoiding irritants that can trigger coughing, and encouraging gentle exercise if the dog is up for it. In severe cases, oxygen therapy may be needed. Ultimately, treatment is aimed at managing symptoms and minimizing flare-ups.

What is doxycycline?

Doxycycline is a tetracycline antibiotic that fights bacteria in the body. It works by stopping the growth of bacteria. Doxycycline binds to the 30S ribosomal subunit of bacteria, blocking protein synthesis which inhibits bacterial replication (MedlinePlus).

Doxycycline is used to treat a wide variety of bacterial infections including respiratory infections like pneumonia and bronchitis, Lyme disease, acne, urinary tract infections, and more. It is effective against many gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. Doxycycline is commonly prescribed because it can be taken orally, has a low risk of resistance, and has a broad spectrum of activity (

Does doxycycline treat bronchitis in dogs?

Doxycycline is commonly prescribed by veterinarians to treat bronchitis in dogs. It has been shown to have therapeutic effects for pets with infectious bronchitis due to its antibiotic properties (Antimicrobial use Guidelines for Treatment of Respiratory Tract Disease in Dogs and Cats).

Doxycycline works by inhibiting bacterial protein synthesis, effectively killing or preventing the growth of bacteria that cause bronchitis. Research has demonstrated the efficacy of doxycycline in improving clinical signs and reducing bacterial load in dogs with chronic bronchitis when administered at antimicrobial or sub-antimicrobial dosages for prolonged periods (Sub-Antimicrobial Dosage Scheme of Doxycycline for the Treatment of Canine Idiopathic Chronic Bronchitis: A Prospective Clinical Trial).

The typical dosage of doxycycline for bronchitis in dogs is 2.5-5 mg/kg given orally every 12 hours. Lower sub-antimicrobial dosages of 0.5-1.5 mg/kg once daily may also be used for prolonged therapy over weeks to months. The duration of treatment depends on the individual case and response. Veterinarians often prescribe doxycycline for 2-4 weeks or longer as needed for chronic bronchitis in dogs (Doxycycline For Dogs: Uses and Side Effects).

Potential side effects of doxycycline

Doxycycline is generally safe for dogs when given at the proper dosage. However, there are some possible side effects to be aware of:

The most common side effects of doxycycline in dogs include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

These side effects can often be minimized by giving doxycycline with food. Doxycycline can also cause increased thirst and urination.

Some more serious possible side effects include liver damage, allergic reactions, or interactions with other medications. Doxycycline should not be given to pregnant or nursing dogs.

Overall, doxycycline is considered a relatively safe antibiotic for dogs when given at the proper dosage under a veterinarian’s supervision. Monitoring for potential side effects like loss of appetite and gastrointestinal upset can help ensure your dog tolerates the medication well.

Other antibiotics for bronchitis in dogs

While doxycycline is commonly used for bronchitis in dogs, there are some alternative antibiotics that may also be effective. Some other antibiotics that vets may prescribe include:

Amoxicillin – This is a broad-spectrum antibiotic that is commonly used to treat bacterial infections in dogs, including respiratory infections like bronchitis. According to one source, amoxicillin may be a first choice antibiotic for mild to moderate cases of bronchitis in dogs (

Azithromycin – Azithromycin is a macrolide antibiotic that has activity against many of the bacteria that cause respiratory infections in dogs. Some vets may prescribe azithromycin for chronic bronchitis cases. Azithromycin may also have some anti-inflammatory effects that could benefit dogs with bronchitis (

Other antibiotics like clindamycin or fluoroquinolones may also sometimes be used for bronchitis in dogs, especially if there are concerns about antibiotic resistance or if the dog doesn’t improve with initial antibiotic therapy.

The choice between using doxycycline versus another antibiotic for bronchitis will depend on factors like cost, the particular bacteria involved, the severity of infection, and the dog’s response to medication.

Home care for dogs with bronchitis

There are several things you can do at home to help care for a dog with bronchitis and ease their symptoms:

– Make sure your dog gets plenty of rest and avoids strenuous activity while ill. Letting them rest as much as possible will help their body fight the infection (source).

– Keep your home humid. Running a humidifier can add moisture to the air and help loosen mucus so your dog can cough it up more easily (source).

– Feed your dog easy to digest foods like chicken and rice until their appetite returns to normal. Avoid fatty or heavily seasoned foods that could irritate their stomach (source).

– Consider natural remedies like honey mixed with warm water and lemon to soothe your dog’s cough and throat irritation (source). Always check with your vet before giving any supplements.

With rest and supportive care at home, most dogs can recover fully from bronchitis. However, contact your vet if symptoms persist or worsen.

When to see a vet

If your dog is showing signs of bronchitis, it’s important to monitor them closely and know when to take them to the vet. Some warning signs that indicate it’s time to go to the vet include:

Worsening cough that lasts more than a few days or interferes with normal activities. A cough that sounds moist or results in gagging can indicate a worsening infection (

Difficulty breathing, such as fast breathing, shallow rapid breaths, gasping for air, or breathing with an abnormally extended neck. These are signs of respiratory distress and require immediate veterinary attention (

Loss of appetite or energy lasting more than a day. This may signal a systemic infection.

Fever over 103 F which can indicate a secondary infection.

Blue gums or tongue which indicates oxygen deprivation.

Collapse or extreme lethargy which are signs of respiratory failure.

If your dog shows any of these symptoms in addition to coughing, wheezing, or other signs of bronchitis, take them to the vet right away. Prolonged bronchitis can lead to pneumonia and other complications if left untreated.

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