Can Dogs Get Altitude Sickness?

Sometimes city life can become way too stressful with all its demands. When you feel you’re about to crack, what better way to de-stress than to lace up those hiking boots, get your backpack and tent ready, and head to the mountains with your best canine friend alongside you? As you near the pinnacle of the mountain, his demeanor seems a bit off. Is he tired, or can dogs get altitude sickness?

Dogs can suffer from altitude sickness under the same conditions as humans. From 8000 feet, the air becomes very thin, and the pressure decreases. The dog can become dehydrated and will struggle to breathe normally. This can lead to a host of other potentially fatal symptoms to the animal.

Your best friend could fall prey to altitude sickness when you take him up to the peaks with you, especially with the combination of heavy exercise and very high altitude. The pace that you ascend the mountain can also affect the seriousness of the symptoms. Some dogs can also suffer from this illness during flights, so it’s essential to ensure they are in a pressurized cabin.

Can Dogs Get Altitude Sickness?

The answer is a resounding yes! Dogs don’t often find themselves at these altitudes on an airplane, so altitude sickness may not be picked up as quickly.

The Symptoms Of Altitude Sickness In Dogs.

The symptoms are similar to those in humans suffering from altitude sickness. One of the severe symptoms is the accumulation of fluid in the lungs or swelling, making it difficult for your pooch to breathe.

Suppose your dog has allergies, lung, or heart conditions. He may be more vulnerable to altitude sickness, and his symptoms could be more severe. A dog that may not be obviously sick at a lower altitude, but has an infection, could also become ill when the oxygen levels decrease at higher altitudes.

Some other common symptoms of altitude sickness in dogs are:

  • Panting or struggling to breathe
  • Excessive drooling
  • A dry cough
  • Lethargy
  • Pale-colored gums
  • Vomiting
  • Coordination problems
  • Bleeding from the nose and eyes (only in severe cases)
  • Racing Pulse
  • Swollen feet and maybe the face as well
  • Collapsing suddenly
  • Fever
  • Dizziness
  • Refusing to move

If the climb to the top has been gradual, the dog may show fewer symptoms. It is difficult to know whether the dog is actually exhibiting signs of altitude sickness since they can’t tell you how they’re feeling. But the easiest way to judge is to think about when the symptoms started. If your dog was healthy before you began the hike and became ill after this, the altitude has probably affected him.

Treatment For Dogs With Altitude Sickness

If your dog starts showing signs of altitude sickness, he needs to stop all activity, and you need to get him to a lower altitude immediately. If the dog presents with severe symptoms, he may need to be treated by a vet.

If your dog can’t breathe, you can administer mouth-to-nose breathing until he can receive oxygen therapy at a medical facility. He may be given a free flow of oxygen near his nose, in a sheltered spot so that the wind doesn’t blow it away. If you have access to an oxygen mask, you can use it to give your dog emergency aid.

 A vet can treat blood pressure issues with medications. If the dog shows signs of lung and heart problems, he needs medical treatment post-haste. Medication such as acetazolamide can be used to treat dogs with altitude sickness. Dexamethasone can be helpful for edema. Still, these can only be prescribed by a vet.

The Prevention Of Altitude Sickness In Dogs

Altitude sickness in dogs is not common because it’s not every day that your best friend hikes up a mountain of such elevation. But should the occasion arise that your dog joins you on this type of hike, there are some fundamental guidelines to follow to prevent it.

Hydration is vital in preventing altitude sickness in your dog. You should always carry a water bowl and enough water for both of you. Your dog should drink water every time you hydrate. Dogs don’t always drink water when they’re dehydrated, so you should avoid feeding them dry kibble. Moisture-rich food will aid against dehydration.

Keep your dog on his leash so that you control his speed and walk at a slow and steady pace. Stopping frequently will help prevent altitude sickness, and it’s a good reason for both of you to snack and maintain energy.

Both humans and dogs need to ascend the mountain gradually. The longer it takes to reach high elevations, the more time there is to acclimate to the lack of oxygen and different air pressure.

Consider your dog’s breed before you take them on hikes to extremely high altitudes. Flat-faced dogs like pugs, Boston terriers, and bulldogs will struggle to breathe at this elevation, so one should avoid taking these dogs on hikes.

Be sure to monitor your dog’s behavior every time you take him to very high mountains. If he managed well once or twice before, it doesn’t mean that he won’t ever develop any symptoms.

If you move to an area with a very high altitude, if possible, you should try to stagger your journey to ensure that you ascend slowly. As you travel, make sure that your dog has a lot of water to drink. Ease your dog into his new surroundings and monitor him constantly. As he acclimatizes to his new home, he can slowly become more active.

Whether hiking at a very high altitude or moving house to such an area, it is always necessary to know how to contact the nearest vet or animal hospital in case of emergencies such as altitude sickness.

Conclusion

Although it is quite rare, dogs can get altitude sickness if they climb to more than 8000 feet. The air has much less oxygen, making it difficult to breathe, and they quickly become dehydrated. If a dog presents with symptoms, he should be taken to a lower altitude and receive medical treatment if necessary. A gradual ascent will go a long way in preventing illness, though.