Sadly there has been a couple of incidents recently of Irish Wolfhounds contacting Pneumonia, and one of the hounds did not pull through. Our heart felt condolences go out to the owners at such a sad time. 

It is the view of many who have experienced pneumonia in their hounds that the use of Excenel really works, but must be kept going long enough to prevent it’s return.  Excenel is not actually licensed for use in dogs, but hopefully your vet will allow you to sign a disclaimer.  

In America the drug of choice for wolfhounds is Rocephin (ceftriaxone), a 3rd generation cephalosporin, which is not licensed in the UK. Excenel is the drug recommended by wolfhound people in the UK who have had experience of pneumonia. Excenel is also a 3rd generation cephalosporin, available in the UK licensed for pigs, but not licensed for dogs. To obtain it, a waiver needs to be signed by you. Wolfhounds are unique in their presentation of pneumonia.

They may have a normal temperature and their lungs may appear clear on x-rays.

There have been a number of cases of Vets misdiagnosing pneumonia as heart failure. If your wolfhound has clear lungs, does not have a raised temperature, but does have atrial fibrillation, some Vets will put the difficulty in breath ing down to heart failure, and treat that, not the pneumonia.

The Irish Wolfhound Health Group has put together this Guide to Pneumonia in the Irish Wolfhound:

In America the drug of choice for wolfhounds is Rocephin (ceftriaxone), a 3rd generation cephalosporin, which is not licensed in the UK. Excenel is the drug recommended by wolfhound people in the UK, who have had experience of pneumonia. Excenel is also a 3rd generation cephalosporin, available in the UK, licensed for pigs, but not licensed for dogs. To obtain it, a waiver needs to be signed by you and this can be requested from your Vet.

Note on Dosage: Anecdotal evidence suggests Excenel is given as a 4.5ml subcutaneous injection every 24 hours – and is often combined with Antirobe. This dosage is based on experience and a history of success using the drug for pneumonia in the Wolfhound. It has been observed that treatment length can vary from five days to six weeks, depending on the severity of the infection. It is strongly recommended that you discuss your dog’s requirements with your veterinary surgeon, ideally before the need for it arises, as not all veterinary surgeries will keep Excenel in stock.

Note to Veterinary Surgeon: Excenel is marketed as Naxcel in the US. Naxcel is licensed for UTI’s in dogs, information regarding Naxcel can be found on the Pfizer website.

Wolfhounds are unique in their presentation of pneumonia. They may have a normal temperature and their lungs may appear clear on x-ray for several days after the dog first shows signs of illness

There have been a number of cases of Vets misdiagnosing pneumonia as heart failure. If your wolfhound has clear lungs, does not have a raised temperature, but does have atrial fibrillation, some Vets will put the difficulty in breathing down to heart failure, and treat that, not the pneumonia.

Recognizing pneumonia

  •   Sudden onset.

  •   Difficulties in breathing.

  •   Head lowered and stretched forward level with the back, neck extended to expand the airway as much as possible.

  •   Dog reluctant/unable to lie on its side.

  •   Dog may or may not be coughing

  •   Temperature may be very high – but a normal temperature does not necessarily preclude a diagnosis of pneumonia.

  •   Their lungs may appear clear on x-ray.

  •   There have been cases of pneumonia in wolfhounds following a lungworm infection. (Lung worm is no longer restricted to the south of England, and is present in most areas)

Treating pneumonia

 URGENTLY- if there is any doubt, treat with the antibiotics first, and argue later – do not take a wait and see attitude.

  •   Most Vets will want to administer an antibiotic intravenously, as it is important to hit it hard and fast.

  •   Fluids intravenously should be considered – but care should be taken if your wolfhound has a heartcondition.

  •   Excenel is the drug recommended by wolfhound people who have had experience of pneumonia in the UK.

  •   Other antibiotics have been used – Ceporex, Baytril and Antirobe, Cefuroxime, Zithromax, Marbofloxacin and Trimethoprim sulfa, but there is a better chance of preventing a recurrence with Excenel.

  •   Drug treatment needs to continue for at least 4 weeks.

  •   Steam and coupage can assist in moving the congestion from the lungs

  •   If your wolfhound has had pneumonia, it is more likely to have it again.

Convincing/ alerting Vets

 BEFORE THIS HAPPENS – Please have a conversation with your veterinary surgeon to ascertain their views on using Excenel should the situation arise. When a dog is already sick, it is not a good time to find out that your Veterinary Surgeon will not consider alternative treatments from the mainstream

The IWHG comprises members of each of the breed bodies. None is a qualified veterinarian: any suggestions made are based purely on the personal experience of those wolfhound owners who have had to use the drugs mentioned and are a guide only for you to discuss with your own vet. It is the responsibility of the owner to make a decision on any course of action they take with their hound and we strongly recommend that this is done in conjunction with your vet.

For more information and information sheet, please click on the link below