Dog Chronic Bronchitis Treatment Natural

What is Chronic Bronchitis in Dogs?

Chronic bronchitis in dogs is a long-term inflammatory condition of the airways leading to chronic cough. It involves inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes, which carry air to and from the lungs, resulting in coughing spells and difficulty breathing (VCA Animal Hospital).

The condition causes irritation and swelling of the bronchial tubes, narrowing the airways and limiting airflow. Mucus production increases, resulting in further blockage. Over time, the walls thicken and lung function deteriorates (Togrips).

Common symptoms include chronic coughing, wheezing, fatigue, shortness of breath, and exercise intolerance. Coughing typically worsens at night or with exercise. As the disease progresses, dogs may cough up mucus or phlegm and have bluish gums due to lack of oxygen (Trudell Animal Health).

Chronic bronchitis is often caused by long-term exposure to irritants like cigarette smoke, dust, or air pollution. Underlying health issues like allergies, respiratory infections, and heart disease can also contribute to its development (VCA).

Diagnosing Chronic Bronchitis

Diagnosing chronic bronchitis in dogs typically starts with a veterinary exam. The vet will listen to the dog’s chest with a stethoscope to check for abnormal breathing sounds like wheezing or crackling. They may also take X-rays of the dog’s chest to look for signs of inflammation or thickening of the bronchial walls (1).

Other diagnostic tests the vet may recommend include (2):

  • Bloodwork to check for infections
  • Fecal exam to rule out parasites
  • Bronchoscopy – Using an endoscope camera to visually inspect the airways
  • Tracheal wash to collect fluid for examination
  • Biopsies of the airways

The results of these tests along with the medical history can help the vet confirm a diagnosis of chronic bronchitis. Imaging like X-rays and bronchoscopy can reveal thickening of the airway walls and mucus accumulation that are hallmarks of this condition (3).




Conventional Treatments

Veterinarians typically prescribe medications to help manage symptoms and reduce inflammation for dogs with chronic bronchitis. Some of the most common conventional treatment options include:

Corticosteroids like prednisone are often prescribed to reduce inflammation in the airways. According to Today’s Veterinary Practice, “Glucocorticoids are the mainstay for treatment as they reduce inflammation, thereby, reducing cough.”

However, steroids can have side effects like increased thirst, increased urination, increased appetite, and panting. Long-term use may also lead to liver problems or Cushing’s disease.

Bronchodilators like theophylline help open airways and make breathing easier. But they can cause side effects like vomiting, diarrhea, and restlessness.

Antibiotics may be prescribed if there is a bacterial infection complicating the chronic bronchitis. But antibiotics can disrupt the gut microbiome if used long-term.

Cough suppressants can provide temporary relief from coughing but don’t treat the underlying inflammation. They can also cause side effects like vomiting and diarrhea.

Overall, conventional medications can help manage symptoms short-term but may cause side effects with long-term use. Working closely with your vet to monitor side effects and dosage is important.

Lifestyle Changes

Making certain lifestyle changes can be very beneficial for dogs with chronic bronchitis. One of the most important things is to avoid smoke and other irritants that can worsen coughing and breathing difficulties. This means not exposing dogs to cigarette smoke, smoke from wood-burning stoves, or other environmental pollutants and allergens whenever possible (1). Keeping dogs indoors on high air quality alert days can help.

Another key lifestyle change for dogs with chronic bronchitis is achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, if they are currently overweight or obese. Extra body fat can put more pressure on the lungs and airways, making breathing more difficult. Gradual weight loss through diet and exercise is recommended. Even losing just a few pounds can help relieve some of the stress on a dog’s respiratory system (2). Regular moderately intense exercise such as going for walks can also strengthen breathing muscles over time. Consulting with a veterinarian to develop a tailored weight loss plan for an overweight dog with chronic bronchitis is advised.


Dietary Considerations

When a dog has chronic bronchitis, adjusting their diet can help reduce inflammation and ease respiratory symptoms. Focus on an anti-inflammatory diet high in omega-3s from fish, flaxseed, and other sources. Omega-3s help reduce inflammation in the airways. Some anti-inflammatory foods to incorporate include:

  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Flaxseed
  • Walnuts
  • Chia seeds

It’s also important to keep your dog hydrated to help thin mucus secretions and make coughing more productive. Provide plenty of fresh water. You can also add moisture to their diet with:

  • Wet food
  • Bone broth
  • Food topped with warm water
  • Hydrating fruits and vegetables like watermelon, strawberries, cucumbers

Avoid dry, crunchy kibble during flare-ups as it can irritate the throat. Consult your vet for specific dietary recommendations for your dog.


Certain supplements can help ease the symptoms of chronic bronchitis in dogs and support their immune system. Some beneficial supplements include:

Herbal remedies like turmeric, licorice root, and astragalus can help reduce coughing and soothe irritation in the throat and airways. Turmeric has anti-inflammatory effects while licorice root and astragalus boost immunity. Give turmeric, licorice, or astragalus supplements according to package directions.

Probiotics help maintain healthy gut flora, which supports immune function. Bronchitis Gold, a supplement containing probiotics and immune-boosting vitamins, can help strengthen the immune system to better fight infection.

Supplements like N-acetylcysteine break down mucus and make it easier to clear from the airways. Always consult your vet before giving supplements.

Essential Oils

Essential oils can help open up airways and reduce inflammation in dogs with chronic bronchitis when used properly. Some oils to consider:

Eucalyptus Oil – Has antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. Can help open up airways. Always dilute before use. Sources recommend 2-3 drops per 10 pounds of dog weight diluted in a carrier oil and applied topically away from eyes and nose. Do not apply undiluted or let dogs ingest eucalyptus oil. [1]

Peppermint Oil – Can help open airways. Always dilute before use. Recommended dosage is 1 drop per 20 pounds of dog weight diluted in a carrier oil and applied away from eyes and nose. Do not apply undiluted or let dogs ingest peppermint oil. [2]

Frankincense Oil – Has anti-inflammatory properties that may help chronic bronchitis. Always dilute before use. Sources recommend starting with 1 drop per 20 pounds of dog weight diluted in a carrier oil and working up to 3 drops. Apply topically away from eyes and nose. Do not let dogs ingest frankincense oil. [3]

Cardamom Oil – May help open up airways. Always dilute before use. Start with 1 drop per 20 pounds of dog weight diluted in a carrier oil and applied away from eyes and nose. Do not apply undiluted or let dogs ingest cardamom oil.

Always monitor dogs closely when using essential oils and discontinue use if any negative reactions occur. Oils should never be used undiluted or ingested by dogs. Work with a holistic vet to determine safe essential oil options and dosages for your individual dog.


Acupuncture is a holistic therapy that involves the insertion of small needles into specific points on the body to stimulate healing and provide pain relief. Research suggests acupuncture can be effective for treating chronic respiratory issues in dogs, especially when used alongside conventional treatment.

According to one study published in PubMed, “Acupuncture effectively enhances the treatment of chronic allergic bronchitis and asthma in the cat and dog.” The researchers found acupuncture helped improve clinical signs and reduced the need for medication in pets with chronic respiratory disease. The study suggests acupuncture works by regulating autonomic nervous system function.

Another study published in MDPI found acupuncture improved heart rate variability and antioxidant status in dogs with tracheal collapse. The study states, “The results showed that acupuncture can alleviate clinical signs of tracheal collapse, reduce MDA level, and improve sympathovagal balance.” This indicates acupuncture may help reduce oxidative stress and balance the nervous system in dogs with chronic respiratory disease.

Overall, research shows acupuncture can provide scientifically-validated relief for dogs with chronic bronchitis when performed by a licensed veterinary acupuncturist. It helps reduce clinical signs, the need for medication, oxidative stress, and improves nervous system balance. More studies are still needed, but current evidence supports acupuncture as an effective complementary therapy.

Home Care Tips

There are several things you can do at home to help manage your dog’s chronic bronchitis symptoms and keep your dog comfortable:

  • Use humidifiers to add moisture to the air, which can help loosen mucus and make breathing easier. Make sure to clean humidifiers regularly to prevent mold growth.
  • Vacuum and dust regularly, and consider getting an air purifier to remove allergens and irritants from the air. Clean or change air filters often.
  • Avoid using perfumes, air fresheners, cleaning products with strong fumes, or anything else that introduces heavy scents into your home, as these can further irritate your dog’s respiratory system.
  • Make lifestyle adjustments like avoiding strenuous activity and exposure to extreme temperatures that could worsen breathing issues. Keep walks short and slow.
  • Keep your dog’s environment free of smoke, including tobacco and wood smoke. Don’t let anyone smoke inside your home or around your dog.

Making simple changes to your home environment and avoiding triggers can make a big difference in reducing flare ups and keeping your dog comfortable. Monitor your dog’s breathing and coughing closely and contact your vet if symptoms seem to worsen.

When to See a Vet

If your dog is showing signs of labored breathing, wheezing, or coughing persistently or excessively, it’s important to seek veterinary care as soon as possible. Chronic bronchitis left untreated can lead to further lung damage, and in severe cases, respiratory failure. According to the VCA Hospitals, warning signs that warrant an urgent vet visit include:

  • Severe difficulty breathing
  • Turning blue or extremely pale gums
  • Collapsing
  • Unable to catch his/her breath
  • Restlessness

If chronic bronchitis progresses to acute respiratory distress, immediate emergency vet care is crucial. The longer proper treatment is delayed, the higher the risk for complications and poor prognosis. While home care can help manage mild to moderate cases, veterinary oversight is essential to monitor disease progression and adjust treatment as needed. Your vet may recommend medications, oxygen therapy, antibiotics, bronchodilators, and other therapies to support your dog’s breathing and improve their quality of life.

According to BluePearl, regular vet visits, lab work, x-rays, and medications to control signs should continue for life in most dogs diagnosed with chronic bronchitis. Don’t delay seeking veterinary assessment if your dog shows persistent respiratory signs or any difficulty breathing. With proper long-term management under your vet’s supervision, most dogs with chronic bronchitis can live comfortably.

Scroll to Top