How To Give A Dog An Inhaler

Weiner dog with its head wedged between two pillows.

How To Give A Dog An Inhaler

Just as inhaled medication is used to treat respiratory disease (like asthma) in humans, inhaled medication is used to treat respiratory disease in dogs. 

Although it may seem difficult to give an inhaler to a dog, administering these medications is simple if you have the right equipment and a little bit of patience!

Conditions Treated With Inhalers For Dogs

Inhalers may be prescribed to treat or manage a variety of diseases and conditions in dogs, including:

The dose and frequency of treatment will vary depending on your dog’s condition and according to your vet’s discretion.

Types Of Dog Inhaler Medications

There are two main types of medications that can be prescribed as inhalers for dogs: corticosteroids (such as Fluticasone) and bronchodilators (such as Albuterol).

Corticosteroids work to reduce inflammation and swelling of the airways, while bronchodilators work by relaxing the muscles in the airways to make it easier for the dog to breathe.

Inhaled medications pose a much lower risk of side effects from corticosteroids as opposed to oral or injected (systemic) forms of these medications. 

Brown dog with a wet nose.

How To Give Your Dog Inhaled Medication

Inhalers for dogs with bronchitis or another condition need to be administered with a chamber (or spacer) device.

Since dogs cannot be instructed to take a breath when administering an inhaler, a chamber device consists of a mask and a holding chamber to help capture the dose of medication and helps a dog breathe in the medication in multiple breaths.

What To Look For In A Dog Inhaler Spacer/Chamber Device

When choosing a chamberdevice for your dog, it is important to select one that is specifically designed for dogs (such as the AeroDawg* Chamber). These devices help ensure the mask fits properly and medication is not lost  when administering it to your dog.

Not all chamber devices are the same, and the AeroDawg* chamber is specifically designed to hold the medication for a longer period of time so your dog can inhale the dose without wasting medication.

Watch out for human devices that are being marketed towards dogs. A proper chamber device for dogs should include a fitted, non-stick mask to avoid sticking to your dog’s fur, and a valve for controlling the flow of medication. Choosing the wrong device may make the experience unpleasant for your dog, which could make it difficult to administer medication long term.

The AeroDawg* Chamber is the only dog-specific device that includes a Flow-Vu* indicator that moves when your dog breathes. This feature allows you to confirm the mask is properly sealed to your dog’s face, helps you count breaths by monitoring the number of times the indicator moves, and ultimately confirm the medication your dog needs is being delivered. 

How To Administer An Inhaler To A Dog

Before Administering The Inhaler

While most dogs are accepting of using an inhaler, it’s important to help your dog get used to the chamber device before giving them medication.

Slowly introduce the device to your dog by starting with just the mask so they can get used to the feel of it. Hold the mask on your dog’s face for a few seconds, and gradually increase the time to 10 seconds (average treatment time). 

Give your dog lots of pets, cuddles, and treats while familiarizing them with the device to make the experience as positive as possible.

Once your dog has become comfortable with the device, use the Flow-Vu* inhalation indicator to gauge the seal on your dog’s face. If the indicator moves, it means the mask is well sealed and will help ensure medication doesn’t escape from the device.

Administering The Medication

After familiarizing your dog with the device, you can begin administering their inhaler. Follow these steps to give your dog their aerosol medication using the AeroDawg* Chamber:

  1. Remove the cap on the inhaler and shake it vigorously
  2. Insert the inhaler into the back of the AeroDawg* chamber
  3. Gently apply the mask to your dog’s face, ensuring both the nose and mouth are covered. Use the Flow-Vu* indicator to confirm the mask is sealed to your dog’s face
  4. Press the inhaler to release the medication
  5. Watch the Flow-Vu* indicator to count 7-10 breaths to ensure your dog breaths in the entire dose of medication, then remove the mask
  6. Wipe your dog’s face with a damp cloth after treatment to remove any residue from the medication

If your vet has prescribed more than 1 puff of medication per dose, do not administer all puffs at once. Wait 30 seconds before administering the next puff. Learn more about how to administer an inhaler.

Tips & Tricks For Giving Your Dog An Inhaler With The AeroDawg* Chamber

Use these tips and tricks to make treatment time more comfortable for you and your dog:

A brown and white dog's face poking out from underneath a blanket.
  • Create a positive response by rewarding your dog with treats before and after treatment
  • Swaddle your dog in a towel or blanket during treatment
  • Wipe some wet food on the inside of the mask to encourage your dog to accept the mask on their face
  • Be patient—your dog will need some time to adjust to using the mask

Better Manage Your Dog’s Condition With Inhaled Medication

Inhalers for dogs with a collapsed trachea, chronic bronchitis, or other conditions are easier to administer than you think.

If your dog is currently taking systemic corticosteroids and/or bronchodilators, speak with your vet about transitioning your dog to inhaled medication in conjunction with the AeroDawg* Chamber to help your dog live a happy and healthy life.

For more information and instructions for using the AeroDawg* Chamber, check out the following resources: