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Pneumonia and your Irish Wolfhound
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Pneumonia and your Irish Wolfhound Print
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Irish Wolfhound - Health Issues
Written by Hugh McManus   

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Friday, 05 September 2008 08:00

Pneumonia is serious and life-threatening condition in Irish Wolfhounds.  Immediate treatment is recommended.

About Pneumonia

Pneumonia is an illness characterized by an inflammation of the lungs.  The illness has a number of possible origins including bacterial, parasitic or viral infection.  Pneumonia can often result from exposure to other ailments.  For example, Wolfhounds exposed to kennel cough or the distemper virus may, in some cases, develop pneumonia.   These factors don't have to be present.  A Wolfhound can develop pneumonia from other sources.  in Wolfhounds the cause may be idiopathic, that is unknown, and studies are underway to determine how otherwise healthy animals of this breed develop this illness: a point that should be discussed with the attending veterinarian.

Symptoms of Pneumonia

As with many other illnesses, it can be difficult to realize that something is wrong with the hound. It's important to have a strong, empathetic relationship with your dog so that you can easily identify small changes in behavior or mannerisms that may indicate some sort of problem.  A Wolfhound with pneumonia can become extremely ill in a few hours.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of symptoms often associated with pneumonia.  The Irish Wolfhound may have only some of these symptoms.

  • A general lethargy or listlessness;
  • A change in mood, a depression;
  • A loss of appetite, even for favorite snacks or treats;
  • A strange stance, the most common and universal signal is the extension of the dog's neck and head, such that it's stretched out and held parallel to the back.  This stance facilitates breathing;
  • The hound may be uncomfortable lying down on its side;
  • Rapid breathing may occur in some dogs;
  • Nasal drip may occur in some dogs;
  • Elevated temperature, in the range of 103 °F and climbing.

Some of the symptoms may resemble bloat or gastric torsion.  Whatever the cause, Wolfhounds acting in this strange manner should be taken immediately to a veterinarian.

Treatment for Pneumonia

Pneumonia requires emergency veterinary medical attention.  Treatment with an antibiotic normally brings relief.  Veterinarians often prescribed a cephalosporin; Rocephin has proven to be very successful in many cases.  Zithromax, diagnosed at 5 mg/kg for the first day of treatment, then 10 mg/kg until five days after the last clinical signs have vanished.  There are other antibiotics which work well too.  If the dog doesn't respond to a particular antibiotic, another should be tried as quickly as possible.  The hound needs to be hydrated, usually with a subcutaneous drip. 

Preventing Pneumonia

Apart from keeping your dog away from sick animals, there are no iron-clad ways of avoiding pneumonia.  Some people have anecdotal support for the notion of an hereditary component to the illness; that is, there may be characteristics of a dog that make him or her more susceptible to infection.  The main problem with Wolfhounds is that the causes can be idiopathic, so veterinarians are often inclined to consider things like dilated cardiomyopathy or other possible conditions before considering pneumonia.  Fortunately, common misdiagnoses also require a course of antibiotics to treatment, but it is important to raise the idea that a condition could be pneumonia.