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Pneumonia (Interstitial) in Dogs

Interstitial Pneumonia in Dogs

Interstitial pneumonia is a condition characterized by inflammation in the walls of the alveoli or in the interstitium of the lungs in dogs. Alveoli are tiny air sacs where oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged. Pneumonia, in general, refers to inflammation in the lungs.

Both cats and dogs can suffer from interstitial pneumonia, although certain breeds may be more prone to it than others. For instance, breeds like the West Highland White Terrier and Bull Terrier are thought to have a higher susceptibility to interstitial lung disease, which can eventually lead to secondary interstitial pneumonia. Among these breeds, Miniature Dachshunds are particularly susceptible to infection by Pneumocystis carinii, a parasite that causes pneumocystosis, a lung disease. Pneumocystis carinii is a transitional organism, sharing characteristics of both fungus and protozoa.

Symptoms and Types

Symptoms of interstitial pneumonia in dogs can vary depending on the seriousness of the illness. Common signs may include rapid breathing (tachypnea), coughing, difficulty breathing (dyspnea), mild fever, and discharge from the eyes. Additionally, exposure to toxic substances may lead to gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and reduced urine production.


A variety of factors can contribute to the development of interstitial pneumonia in dogs. Bronchiolitis obliterans organizing pneumonia, which is a congenital defect present at birth, is characterized by inflamed airways and surrounding tissues, increasing the risk of interstitial pneumonia.

Other causes may include conditions like lung cancer and metabolic disorders such as uremia. Uremia occurs when there are excessive levels of urea and other nitrogenous waste products in the blood due to insufficient excretion through urine.

Exposure to toxic substances through inhalation of dust, gas, or vapor is also considered a potential factor in the development of interstitial pneumonia.


If symptoms indicating interstitial pneumonia are present in a dog, various diagnostic procedures may be employed. These include urine analysis, blood tests, x-ray imaging of the pleural cavity (the space between the chest wall and lungs), and electrocardiography (ECG) for assessing the heart’s electrical impulses and identifying irregular heart rhythms associated with increased lung pressure.

Additionally, two common diagnostic methods used when pneumonia is suspected are a tracheal wash, which involves collecting fluids and substances from the lining of the trachea (the airway for respiratory transport), and a bronchoscopy. A bronchoscopy entails inserting a small tube with a tiny camera through the mouth and into the bronchial airway to visually inspect the area.


Dogs showing severe symptoms should receive active treatment at a hospital, especially if they are experiencing respiratory distress. In such cases, oxygen therapy is administered using an oxygen mask. Antimicrobial medication is commonly prescribed to prevent secondary bacterial infections.

Further medication depends on the underlying cause of interstitial pneumonia. Your veterinarian will provide guidance on the appropriate medications and any necessary home treatment.

Recovery and Management

After the initial treatment, it’s important to limit activity and prevent exposure to harmful substances like dust, vapor, chemical fumes, or tobacco smoke. Medications should be given regularly and as prescribed by the veterinarian. Schedule regular follow-up appointments for monitoring and management of the condition.


Preventing the development of interstitial pneumonia in dogs involves several proactive measures that dog owners can take:

  • Ensure your dog receives proper vaccinations.
  • Schedule regular deworming sessions with your veterinarian.
  • Store inhalation hazards, such as materials emitting toxic fumes, in a secure area that is inaccessible to your pet.
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