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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 14884
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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My dog often breaths as if he has asthma, like he is struggling

Customer Question

my dog often breaths as if he has asthma, like he is struggling to catch his breath.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 1 year ago.
Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I am sorry to hear that French Toast is having some sort of episode, and I understand that you are very concerned. Dogs don't really get asthma. They can have chronic obstruction pulmonary disease and lung disease but I'm not sure that is what you are seeing evidence of now.Do your fellow's episodes look like this? 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0HXcMLokADc&feature=relatedIf he looks like the video this is a "reverse sneeze" which is caused by irritation of the pharynx. It can be from inhaled irritants. It can be related to gastroesophageal reflux. It can be caused by excitement or post nasal drip or an overlong soft palate. A reverse sneeze isn't harmful as it's just a spasm of the muscles around the pharynx because of the irritant, but it's no fun to watch. It can be stopped most times by rubbing his throat gently.If it is because of gastroesophageal reflux then giving him an acid reducing medication may help.You can try either:
1) Pepcid-ac (famotidine) at a dose of one 10mg tablet per 20 to 40 pounds of body weight every 12 hours.
OR 
2) Prilosec (omeprazole) at a dose of one 20mg tablet per 40 to 80 pounds of body weight every 24 hours.
These will reduce stomach acid and should help decrease symptoms related to reflux. These medications are quite safe and can be used long term if need be.If it is related to an overlong soft palate then surgery may be required eventually if this is interfering with his enjoyment of life or leading to breathing problems.Bulldogs and other flat faced breeds are known for having a complex of issues that can make breathing more difficulty, called brachycephalic syndrome. These issues include an overlong soft palate, stenotic (small, closed in) nares, and parts of the larynx that evert out when breathing called everted laryngeal saccules.If he has a low grade respiratory infection or is exposed to cigarette smoke, pollution or other irritants then that can be a possible complicating factor as well.Ideally your fellow needs to be evaluated by your veterinarian. They can determine whether this is related to a reverse sneeze or the more serious brachycephalic syndrome and see how much he is affected and whether surgery to correct some, or all, of these problems would be beneficial for him. If he has brachycephalic syndrome dogs that don't have these problems corrected surgically can suffer from exercise intolerance and easily suffer from heatstroke because they cannot breathe properly. Long term they can suffer from tracheal collapse and secondary heart disease from their struggle to exchange oxygen. If the abnormalities are corrected surgically the pup can have a normal life.Surgery is best done by a very experienced, board certified surgeon to have optimal results. Here is a link to a webpage that discusses brachycephalic syndrome if you'd like more information: https://www.acvs.org/small-animal/brachycephalic-syndrome In the meantime I recommend making sure French Toast does not get overheated or exercise too strenuously. If he is starting to open mouth breathe then play should stop.Sometimes this can be related to dental or gum disease and the secondary inflammation from chronic infections. If this is the case a good cleaning should improve things tremendously.Please let me know if you have any further questions.