Chronic allergic bronchitis in dogs is a chronic inflammatory disease of the upper and lower airways of dogs called bronchi and bronchioles, respectively. Clinical signs of chronic allergic bronchitis in dogs usually involves chronic coughing and/or wheezing, often triggered by exercise. Dogs will sometimes seem like they are trying to gag something up and will even sometimes gag up phlegm during a coughing episode.
Chronic allergic bronchitis in dogs is commonly mistakenly referred to as asthma. Asthma as it pertains to human asthma is not generally seen in dogs but is unique to cats (see Asthma in Cats). Asthma comes as attacks or in waves that lead to actual constriction of the smooth muscle that surrounds the airways, whereas chronic allergic bronchitis in dogs is an ever present condition that results in thickening and swelling of the airways, increased mucus secretions, and presents as a more constant condition. Since it is most commonly triggered by allergic stimulation, chronic allergic bronchitis in dogs can present more severely during certain times of the year depending on what the canine patient may be reacting to.
Chronic allergic bronchitis in dogs is commonly aggravated by areas with high air pollution, second hand smoke in the home, high levels of environmental dust or mold, and wall to wall carpeting (that traps dust, allergens and microorganisms). Certain conditions can also aggravate chronic allergic bronchitis, including heart disease, endocrine disease, and obesity.
Chronic allergic bronchitis is dogs can occur in any breed of dog, but is over-represented in small and toy breed dogs. Age of onset is most common between 2 and 8 years of age. Left untreated, chronic allergic bronchitis in dogs can lead to scarring of the airways of the lungs, a condition known as pulmonary fibrosis. Untreated chronic allergic bronchitis can also lead to right sided heart disease and congestive heart failure.
Diagnosis of chronic allergic bronchitis begins with the veterinarian hearing hallmark coarse lung sounds called increased bronchovescicular sounds. Diagnosis is confirmed by seeing a hallmark chronic inflammatory lung pattern on x-rays called a bronchointerstitial pattern.
In mild cases, holistic management alone may work, but moderate to severe cases usually require traditional drug therapy at least at first to stabilize the patient. Traditional therapy includes combinations of antihistamines, injectable or oral cortisone, and bronchodilators (medications that expand the diameter of the airways).
Once patient is stable, in order to taper off their dependence on medication, I generally recommend the following holistic management options for patients affected by chronic allergic bronchitis:
1.) Clean Air
I strongly recommend keeping the air in the home of a chronic allergic bronchitis dog as clean and pure as possible. UV lights in air conditioning and heating systems help to cut down on mold. Filters changed regularly help to minimize dust and other allergens. Ionic air filters are very helpful in also minimizing airborne allergens and pollutants. Obviously, smoking in the home is a very bad idea for households with affected dogs.
2.) Treat the Home For Dust Mites
Even the cleanest of homes has microscopic insects called dust mites. It is not a pleasant thought, but homes are teaming with dust mites that can trigger both respiratory and other allergic disease.
There are many companies that can effectively treat homes for dust mites organically with no potential harm to the animal and human occupants
3.) Omega-3-Fatty Acids
Omega-3-fatty acids are nature’s anti-inflammatory. They help to maintain and repair cell membranes, while blocking inflammatory biochemical pathways in the body.
The most effective and bioavailable omega-3 is that derived from fish oils. Be careful with the product you choose, as rancid oils not only lack omega-3, but have potentially PRO-inflammatory omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids. Your veterinarian is the best source for product recommendation.
4.) Hypoallergenic Food
Food allergies can lead to all manner of allergic conditions, including allergic respiratory conditions like chronic allergic bronchitis. Food allergies arise from sensitization to large dietary proteins, most commonly animal source proteins and occasionally from certain grains.
My preference for hypoallergenic diet is a hydrolyzed protein diet, meaning that the proteins within the food are cut into smaller, less reactive segments called peptides. The most effective of these diets in my experience is Royal Canin Ultamino, as this diet cuts proteins down into even smaller individual molecular units called amino acids.
Turmeric is a root that is commonly used as a food additive in Indian and southeast Asian cuisine. It has powerful anti-inflammatory properties and can be helpful to reduce inflammation in tissues. Most dogs enjoy the taste of it when added to their food.
Astaxanthin is an antioxidant derived from shell fish. As an antioxidant, it is know to be 6000 times more potent than vitamin C.
8.) Stem Cell Therapy
Stem cells are pregenitor cells that can differentiate into any tissue line and are an integral component to the body’s intrinsic ability to repair and regenerate itself. Puppies, kittens, and children have an abundance of rich and active stem cells. Stem cells decrease in number and become less active with age which accounts for the body being more prone to injury and illness with age, and slower healing times with age.
Through cutting edge technology, stem cells can be harvested via a simple blood draw where they are isolated, amplified, and then injected intravenously back into the patient. Once injected, the stem cells will go on a “seek and repair” mission to help regenerate and repair compromised tissues. Results commonly last for one year plus.
Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms. In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport. He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.