Circles, a sweet 9-month-old Maltese presented to Imperial Point Animal Hospital of Delray after her alert owners noted coughing that was progressively getting worse. Fortunately for Circles, her veterinarian, Dr. Gary Edelson, was able to use radiographs and complete blood count to diagnose pneumonia. After several days of intense treatment that included intravenous antibiotics, nebulization and supportive care, Circles was able to make a complete recovery.

Coughing is a common protective reflex that clears secretions or foreign matter from the throat (pharynx), voice box (larynx), windpipe (trachea) or airways, and protects the lungs against aspiration. It affects the respiratory system by hindering the ability to breathe properly. Common causes include obstruction in the windpipe, bronchitis, pneumonia, heartworm disease, tracheal collapse, lung tumors, kennel cough and heart failure.

Most people have heard the term pneumonia and know it is a lung infection of some sort. In fact, pneumonia is not a specific term and essentially means lung inflammation of some sort. Pneumonia is a separate condition from bronchitis, which is inflamed airways of the lung, but these two conditions commonly go together to create what is called bronchopneumonia. Pneumonia is an inflammation in deep lung tissues where oxygen is absorbed into the body and waste gases are removed. It has potential to be life threatening regardless of its cause.

If you notice your furry friend starts to cough, see your veterinarian for further care.

Do you have pet diabetes or health questions? Ask Dr. Gary, email him at