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Pet Doc, Veterinarian
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Experience:  Veterinarian - BVSc.
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I have a 12 year old pug. My concern that her breathing has

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I have a 12 year old pug. My concern that her breathing has become more shallow and labored that normal. She she has also developed a cough.

She has had Addisons desease for the past seven years, but this is under control - she takes 1.5 Florineff twice a day and .25 Preds once a day.

She has been to her vet many times regarding the cough and the breathing. Chest xrays have indicated that she "may have"chronic bonchitus. The vet does not believe she has heart issues. She has been on an course of antibiotics and is presently on theophylline and althought there has been some improvement in her breathing it is still far from normal. We have also tried an coritisone inhaler, but this has been difficult.

I need to be sure that we are doing everything possible to make her as comfortable as possible.

She is overweight at 11.4kgs, is has been an ongoing struggle the get and keep her weight down.

I am not sure what we can do next and any advice would be appreciated.
Hi there,

Thanks for your question regarding your 12 year old Pug girl Tequilla who seems to be having breathing/respiratory issues recently. Good on you for following up on this carefully with your Vet already and it does sound like they have done a pretty good job in investigating this so far.

There are a likely a couple of predisposing factors to this breathing and coughing issue, and you are already aware of both I am sure. Firstly - Tequilla is a Pug - and as you know, Pug's are renouned for having breathing issues. Because they are a brachycephalic (short nose) breed, generally with a lot of soft tissue around the nasal cavity, long soft palates, steonic nares (small nostrils) and often small trachea's (windpipes) they are already predisposed to breathing issues. Add on top of this the fact Tequilla is overweight, and this as well makes her breathing even more difficult - firstly because everything is more of an effort for her and secondly, there is even more soft tissue around her nasal cavity.

It sounds like your Vet has been controlling Tequilla's Addison's very well with the Florinef and Pred. Steroids as a whole also increase respiratory rate, so this as well will likely be adding to the stress on Tequilla's respiratory system. It could just be a combination of the fact that Tequilla is an older, overweight Pug with Addison's, or she could very well have something else going on here.

It sounds like your Vet may be suspecting canine asthma (allergic bronchitis) - however typically the oral and inhaled steroids along with the theophylline (bronchodilator) would help with this. If your Vet believes there aren't any heart issues, then the heart shadow on the xray likely appeared normal. I would however suggest that your Vet considers an echo and ECG to ensure the heart function is indeed ok. Further investigation here could include a lower airway sample via a bronchioalveolar lavage as well as bronchoscopy, however these procedures require sedation or anaesthesia which I would recommend in a Pug of Tequilla's age with breathing issues!

Other than the extra diagnostics mentioned above to rule out a heart issue, your Vet could also consider whether this could be a case of collapsing trachea (particularly if the cough sounds like a goose honk). This can be difficult to diagnose as well and treatment is typically what you are already giving your girl (or surgery - which is unlikely to be indicated in her case).

The main thing you can do to help right now is to get Tequilla to lose some weight. This in itself is a real challenge in an older dog who likely isn't exercising a lot. There are a few very good obesity diets on the market and your Vet should be able to guide you further here as well as set up a weight clinic plan for Tequila.

Best of luck with your girl and keep up the great work with her treatment. Do follow up with your Vet about having an echo (heart ultrasound) and ECG run on her soon. Let me know how you get on when you get a chance!!

Kind Regards,

Dr Edwards
Pet Doc and 3 other Pet Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Dr Edwards


Thanks for your comprehensive reply, much appreciated.


What is a bronchioalveolar lavage sample and a bronchoscopy, what could these potentially reveal or eliminate?





Hi again Cliff,

Sorry for the delay - your reply has only just got to me. A BAL (bronchioalveolar lavage) is taken with your girl asleep and an amount of sterile saline is placed (via a long tube) into the lower airway, and then retrieved again. The fluid is then spun down and the sediment viewed via microscopy. Through this technique we can get an idea whether this could be due to infection, parasites, asthma or a tumour. Likewise the bronchoscopy (an endoscope placed in the lower airway) can give us information about what the bronchi look like as well as whether there is inflammation or any tumors in the lower airway. The scope itself can also be used to collect fluid or tissue samples.

Both of these techniques require anaesthesia however - so I personally wouldn't carry these out on a high risk case like Tequilla (sorry there was a spelling mistake in my first post - I should have said would NOT carry out on a pug of her age rather than just 'would'!). Opt for the non invasive options first (echo and ECG).

I hope this helps and let me know how you get on.

Kind Regards,

Dr E

Hi Cliff,

I'm just following up on our conversation about Tequilla. How is everything going?

Pet Doc