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Nebulizer Treatment for Dogs and Cats

Nebulizers are delivery systems in which bulk liquids containing dissolved drugs are put into a fine particle mist. The resulting mist is breathed in, allowing delivery directly to the respiratory tract. Inhaled therapy allows higher concentration of antibiotic to be delivered where needed without toxic levels being reached. Symptoms are alleviated and breathing eased. Nebulization therapy breaks up congestion, which supports an animal’s immune response. A major benefit of nebulization therapy is seeing quick, positive results.


Upper respiratory infection (URI) causes animals not to breathe through the nose. Effective therapy for upper respiratory infections in the nasal sinus takes a step to allow “nose breathing” while inhaling. Nebulization works best if animals can breathe through their nose, getting to the source of the problem.


Saline solution given one drop at a time in the nostril will open the nasal passage, allowing nose breathing. One or two drops in each nostril will open the airway, making nebulizing more effective.

Antibiotics are often added to the drops and dropped in the nose to get dual effect. Some use the drops in both eyes and then in the nose. This is safe as you are making eye drops.
  • 10 cc Saline solution (0.9% NaCl)
  • 100 mg Lincocin injectable
  • Put in bottle and use in nose.


  • Compressors provide a source of compressed air for aerosol therapy for inhalation. They are small and quiet.
  • Nebulizers are 12 cc cups used to hold the medication for treatment. They are connected to the nebulizing compressor to deliver medicated therapy for URI.
  • Nebulizing cages can be adapted from a regular kennel or a mobile carrier with the ventilation holes and door covered with Plexiglass. You want some ventilation so no need to make it airtight.


Nebulizing formula is flexible. In the past, there was a large numbers of ingredients. Current thinking is that less is better. The animal has to deal with whatever you put in it, so keep it simple. Saline solution hydrates the respiratory tract, breaking up the thick mucus, so the immune system can remove. Antibiotics kill bacteria, complicating the mix.


  • 100 mg Lincocin
    • (Gentocin was used in the past but is no longer available. Lincocin has less kidney toxicity and from the same family.)
  • 11 cc Saline
    12 cc volume


2 cc Tylan 50 or ½ cc Tylan 200
10 cc Saline or 11½ cc Saline
12 cc volume 12 cc volume

Adjustments to this basic solution are accomplished through adjusting the volume of the sterile saline solution. Some add two drops of liquid Vicks as a natural bronchial dilator with the Eucalyptus in the Vicks. (Caution in using straight Eucalyptus oil as it usually ruins the nebulizing cup!)


Run unit for 20 minutes. Then shut it off and leave the animal in the cage for an additional 20 minutes.

First day, you may do this twice, then once a day for 5-7 days. Most improve rapidly by the 3rd day, but do not discontinue at this point or the puppy may relapse. It is important to go 2-3 days past normal.


Treatment with only the sterile saline solution is beneficial in that it will break up the mucus in the lungs and nasal sinuses and allow the animal to breathe better. Some prefer to use saline and Vicks and have great success, especially on arrival in pet shops.


Mild cases of URI may need only nebulization, but if the animal is sick and/or running a fever, oral antibiotics are required. Treating from the inside out with antibiotics and the outside in with nebulization speeds a cure.


Remove and rinse the nebulization cup after every use. This keeps the tiny port from clogging. As the cup gets worn, replace it. Dry the thin tubes that run from the nebulizer cup to the compressor. We want to keep bacteria and mold from growing in them.


  1. Filters – should be replaced periodically; remember each brand has its own filter.
  2. Corrugated tubing – eventually tubing gets brittle. Replace when that happens.
  3. Replacement packs – these are interchangeable on most nebulizers.

If you need help, call us at 1-800-786-4751.

-Dr. B
Don Bramlage, DVM, Director of Veterinary Services at Revival Animal Health

The materials, information and answers provided through this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of your personal veterinarian or other pet health care professional. Consult your own veterinarian for answers to specific medical questions, including diagnosis, treatment, therapy or medical attention.

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