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Friday, 27 May 2011

Sigh of relief needed

My 11 year old Jack Russell, Berkeley, is suffering from what the vet thinks might be Chronic Canine Bronchitis. There is definitely a problem with his lungs as he has very tight and wheezy in-breaths when at rest. But further tests to analyse the inside of his lungs would be too risky. So we are all assuming it is most likely, as I say, Chronic Canine Bronchitis. He is taking a low oral dose of steroids daily, 8 hourly broncho dilators and a daily puff (via an MDI and dog spacer) of Beclazone 50mcg (which I am thinking of changing to Flixotide 125mcg but have no info on this or what might actually be the best drug).

This issue started in April 2009 but his breathing has been particularly poor since February this year and as he suffers from anxiety, we (me and hubby) have not both gone out the house together for months because we know it will stress Berkeley out and that will make his breathing even worse. However, on Wednesday we had no choice and in the evening we had to go out for two hours. When we got home Berkeley was stressed, as we knew he would be. He did start to calm down but, as I feared, his breathing suffered and became alarmingly tight and sticky sounding with his ribs expanding massively in order to try to draw breath into the lungs. He was really struggling. By 1am I could see it was not going to improve on its own so I gave him a puff on his Salbutamol puffer, which the vet gave us for emergencies. Berkeley has used it once before with seemingly no ill effects (or advantage either but it is all we have) but this time things went crazy. He seemed to go into what I can only describe as a blind panic. He started to hyperventilate and became incredibly anxious… licking everything in sight. Licking is what he does when he wants to calm himself. His breaths were about 45 per minute, which sounded dreadfully fast. And it did not get any slower for 6 hours. It was very scary indeed and can’t have been good for his poor little heart.

Mostly I am asking please if anyone has any ideas for helping a dog in a panic and/or a dog who is hyperventilating? But also I would be grateful for any thoughts on lung conditions and what might make his life more comfortable? He is a happy boy and has no problems in the day but at night or when he rests his breathing is wheezy and tight. I wish we knew for sure what it could be. Chronic Canine Bronchitis seems to fit the bill in many respects apart from one big question mark… he does NOT have a cough.

Any thoughts much appreciated as our vet seems a little in the dark, as do we and I am starting to doubt what we are doing.

Thank you.



  1. Hello Jenny. I have a wheezy whippet and my vet and my vet diagnosed it as Chronic Rhinitis. She Draws in her breath, snuffling, sneezing with mucus coming down her nostrils but its not like a cough, its like she is drawing breath in and snuffling. It gets worse this time of year. The vet told us that Rhinitis just covers a broad spectrum of this type of illness. We went down a long road too and nothing worked. In desperation I went to homeopathy and they were very helpful and for a while it calmed it down a lot but never really cured it. However she had a serious complaint last year with a compressed spinal cord and was put on steriods. NO more spluttering. As soon as they were removed it came back really badly so we now have her on one steroid a day every two days and is still there a little but not bad. My dog wouldnt eat and was getting thinner too. She had chest xrays and they were clear. They can only say that she is allergic to something. To calm a dog, well a hand on the back is calming, but to actually leave, have you tried a radio, something of yours, and possibly the adaptor that you plug in. Only suggestions but if they help your little dog. It is a frustrating journey.

  2. if you are panicing your dog will panic, check your own being and make sure you are calm, change your environment and go outside, see if that helps with the episode, his lung condition, he has a puffer to open his air ways, i have the same for my athsma, mine makes me shake because i dont use it that often so my bodies reaction to it is quite intense, if this is happening to him it may cause a panic attack

  3. Poor Berkeley and such a worry for you. Dogs commonly experience a rise in temperature when hyperventilating so cooling them down with a low speed fan and damp towel to lie on and over back can sometimes help. Certainly has helped when one of my dogs hyperventilates. Hope you get to the bottom of his problems soon x

  4. I'm wondering if a thundershirt might be the answer here. The whole purpose of the thundershirt is to calm the dog by pressure points. It seems that if this is a good solution for keeping a dog from panicking in a T-storm (which mine do), then it may have a secondary purpose to help you get through to a freaked out pup going through medical stress.

    Just a thought.

  5. This sounds like a training problem. Berkeley needs to know that you are not leaving him permanently. His anxiety stems from worrying about you returning and not being used to being left on a regular basis. Start small, get ready to go out and open the door to go, if he is anxious at any stage, stop at this point. The next day, try to actually leave, close the door and walk away from the house, then return after a minute. Reward him for not being anxious by praise and stroking him. If he is anxious, ignore him till he is calm. This will be hard because you will be worried about him but you need to teach him there is no need to be anxious. Ignoring him will show him this anxious behaviour is unnecessary so keep yourselves calm too. Gradually build up the time Berkeley is left, each day try to leave him a bit longer. Try three minutes; then the next day, five minutes; then ten minutes; then twenty, thirty, forty five; and build up to an hour. Each time reward for calm behaviour only. Unless you feel his health is at risk at any stage, this gradual increase in time and stress will be more manageable for his Chronic Canine Bronchitis and easier for him to cope with. If he is comfortable at being left for a certain amount of time, say five minutes, then you can move onto to leaving him for longer, say ten minutes. You can build up the time he is left to around four hours maximum using this method. Good luck and remember to take it at Berkeley's pace.

  6. Thank you so much for all the replies.

    He has always been an anxious, highly strung dog but we have all settled into a good routine over the years and learnt how to make things better for him when we do go out (plus he has calmed down somewhat in old age). Mostly he gets over excited when we return but we carry on as normal and he does soon calm down. But I think all these steroids (he takes them orally and also by puffer both on a daily basis) has upset his own mental mood and he is really quite strung out, much more than usual. I know steroids can be nasty things and we don't really know what our dogs are feeling on them as they can't tell us. I wish there was another way but without them he can't breath properly at rest. The dose he is currently on is the best compromise of breathing and how he is feeling in himself.

    I think what is worrying me is whether the Salbutamol could have made things worse? It is all I have in case of emergency and now I am scared to use it on him again. I was interested in what you said about your own experiences Daniel and think this could be what he felt too. It made his breathing better but the other effects it had on him, maybe similar to what you felt, must have scared him. Does it also increase your heart rate and/or breathing rate when you use it?

    Thank you for the other suggestions re Thundershirt and ways to calm him. Oddly he was calm in himself (after the initial panic) and trying to sleep but his breathing rate did not decrease which is what I found so scary. I was waiting for it to slow down but even after hours of him resting he was still breathing way too fast.

    He is currently taking Beclazone by puffer but I am thinking of changing it to Flixotide. Does anyone know about those drugs please? Is there even any difference? And should I ever risk using the Salbutamol again? If not, what can I use when he is really having a bad time with his breathing?

  7. As with all chronic or recurring health problems you need to consider the possibility of food intolerance/allergy. The digestive system and skin are the most commonly affected organs but any system including respiratory can be affected by an unsuitable food ingredient.
    Are you feeding a diet which lists lots os unknowns such as "cereals, animal derivatives" etc or are the ingredients listed by name? A hypoallergenic diet (one with few ingredients, all of which are named) may help but it will take several weeks to see a difference. This should be done with professional help. We at Burns Pet Nutrition have the experience and suitable foods to try. Best wishes
    Joihn Burns BVMS MRCVS
    Burns Pet Nutrition

  8. Hi John and thanks for your reply. We are feeding Naturediet wet food. I believe that is one of the good ones isn't it?

  9. Dear Jenny
    When using nutrition as a means of trying to deal with a health problem it is not sufficient to assume that a "good quality" diet will take care of it. If ir were, I would not need to employ a team of nutritionists to advise on diet and health. There is much more to it than that. As they say, "The devil is in the detail."
    The formulation of the food is vital; I believe strongly that whole grains are an important element in healthy nutrition and should be the basis of the diet. That applies to humans and dogs. Most Burns foods are based on the whole grains brown rice or maize. We also need to get the right quantity of food providing the correct amounts of fat, protein, carbohydrate and so on. Burns adult foods are lower in fat and protein than most other companies. I've tried to explain this in more detail in my Guide to Natural Health Care.
    Best wishes
    John Burns BVMS MRCVS

  10. Thanks John. However, I am in Malta and have not seen your food here. Do you know if you have any Maltese suppliers? It was a devil of a job getting any dog food that I felt was good so I was stoked when a pet shop here started to import Naturediet 2 years ago.