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Pneumonia Due to Overactive Immune Response in Dogs

Eosinophilic Pneumonia in Dogs

Eosinophilic pneumonia in dogs involves inflammation of the lungs, which can be triggered by various factors, including antigens that provoke an immune response. These antigens, foreign substances, can prompt an abnormal buildup of eosinophils, a type of white blood cell, in the body. Eosinophils typically aid in combating antigens or parasites that the body aims to eliminate. Antigens may infiltrate the body through inhalation, ingestion, or other pathways such as bite wounds or injuries.

In eosinophilic pneumonia, the lungs experience an increase in eosinophils, along with fluid accumulation in lung tissue, airway channels, and small lung sacs where gas exchange occurs. This accumulation leads to lung tissue swelling, inflammation, and reduced breathing capacity.

Symptoms and Types

Symptoms associated with this condition vary widely among different animals based on the seriousness of the illness. The typical symptoms include:

  • A cough that does not improve with antibiotic treatment
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Limited tolerance for exercise
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss
  • Presence of yellow or green pus in nasal discharge


This form of pneumonia is frequently observed in environments characterized by dust or mold exposure, as well as in regions with elevated air pollution levels. Other contributing factors include:

  • Allergies to pollen
  • Exposure to insects
  • Parasitic infections (such as heartworm)
  • General infections


To diagnose this condition, you should provide your veterinarian with a comprehensive overview of your dog’s health history, including details about the onset and progression of symptoms. Following this, your veterinarian will conduct a thorough physical examination of your dog. Diagnostic procedures typically include:

  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Biochemistry profile
  • Urinalysis
  • Stool testing to check for parasitic infections

The CBC test will reveal inflammation, indicated by an elevated number of white blood cells, including neutrophils, eosinophils, basophils, and monocytes. Advanced testing may involve blood gas measurement to assess respiratory system function.

Fluid samples from the lungs will be collected by your veterinarian to confirm the diagnosis, revealing inflammation and a high eosinophil count. Testing for heartworm disease is also crucial, as it can lead to eosinophilic pneumonia.

Diagnostic imaging, such as chest X-rays, is valuable for assessing the extent and severity of inflammation in the lungs, aiding in prognosis determination. X-rays will depict characteristic lung changes associated with this condition, including fluid accumulation.

In cases where an allergen is suspected, skin testing may be performed to identify the allergen. However, its utility is often limited and may only be considered if other diagnostic measures fail to yield results.


For severe cases of the disease, your dog may require hospitalization to stabilize its condition. Intravenous fluids will be administered to restore lost body fluid levels and prevent dehydration, which can be life-threatening. Oxygen therapy will be provided to alleviate severe respiratory distress and help your dog breathe more comfortably. Medications will be prescribed to dilate narrowed airways and facilitate normal breathing.

Steroids are commonly used to alleviate inflammation symptoms, and in severe instances, long-term therapy may be necessary over several months. Dogs experiencing overactive immune reactions may require immune-suppressive drugs.

In cases of heartworm disease, specific medications are employed to treat and eliminate heartworms from the body. However, heartworm treatment can pose risks for certain dogs and should only be undertaken under veterinary supervision.

For fungal infections, antifungal drugs are utilized to combat the disease. In advanced cases resulting in permanent lung damage or scarring, surgical intervention may be necessary to remove affected lung tissue.

Recovery and Management

During treatment, it’s essential to ensure your dog receives complete rest. Adequate caloric intake is crucial for recovery and immune system support; your veterinarian can assist you in designing a suitable diet plan.

Breathlessness is a common issue for affected animals, so it’s important to provide a stress-free home environment conducive to rest. This includes creating a quiet space away from daily foot traffic and main entryways.

Your veterinarian will schedule follow-up examinations, including chest X-rays and laboratory tests, to monitor your dog’s response to medication and overall physical condition.

The prognosis for this disease hinges on identifying the underlying cause or allergen. However, if the allergen remains unidentified, long-term palliative treatment may be necessary to manage symptoms. In cases of progressive or chronic disease, the overall prognosis is often guarded.

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