I was given strict orders to start antibiotics immediately, get repeat x-rays weekly, and never stop antibiotics until a veterinarian stated that my dog was cured.  In the meantime, I was to limit his activity so he could rest and let his body recuperate.  If my dog showed any signs of worsening, I had to rush him back to the hospital immediately, which would likely require hospitalization.

What is Aspiration Pneumonia?

Aspiration pneumonia is usually a complication of your dog regurgitating or vomiting.  Food contents can be inhaled into the lungs causing inflammation and infection.

Dogs can also aspirate post-procedure when sedation is used but this risk is reduced by avoiding food for several hours prior to the procedure.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Fast breathing
  • Congested breathing (sounds like fluid in the lungs)
  • Not eating
  • Coughing
  • Fever
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Shaking
  • Lethargy


Thorough examination is needed before a diagnosis can be made.  If your dog is showing any signs or symptoms of aspiration pneumonia, your dog will need emergency care immediately.

The vet will listen to your dog’s breathing, examine respiratory rate, and test oxygen saturation to help determine if lung involvement.  Chest x-rays can display if a foreign object, fluid, or bacterial growth is within the lungs.


Typical treatment is two weeks of antibiotics.  Chest x-rays will be needed weekly to ensure your dog is responding to the antibiotics.  Therapy is not discontinued until x-rays determine that the infection is resolved, which means that antibiotics could be extended beyond two weeks, if needed.


Depending on the severity of illness when presenting to the ER, or if your dog showed worsening of symptoms after initial home treatment, your dog may need to be hospitalized for IV fluids, IV antibiotics, and oxygen treatment.

Aspiration pneumonia can be fatal if not treated correctly so following your veterinarian’s instructions and maintaining strict adherence to medication regimens can save your dog’s life.

If you suspect your dog has aspiration pneumonia, please seek emergency veterinary care immediately!  This blog is for informational purposes only. The information given should not be used as a substitute for veterinary evaluation.