Coughing in dogs can start for a variety of reasons. As upsetting as it can be for the dog’s owner, keep in mind that the cough often sounds worse than it is. Your dog’s coughing might resolve itself without medical intervention. However, coughing in dogs can be a symptom of a serious medical condition that requires medical attention. Best bet: If your dog is coughing, it’s smart to give the vet a call.
It may be difficult, even with this information, to determine the real reason why your dog is coughing. Again, if you’re worried about your dog, please seek help from your veterinarian. Here are some common reasons for dog coughing:
If your dog has a wheezing, raspy type of cough, he may have a sore throat. Dogs can get a sore throat from barking excessively. If your dog is barking excessively, read my article (video included), Best Ways to Stop a Dog from Barking.
A sore throat can also be caused by swallowing something (like a stick) that scratches their throat or gets stuck in their throat. Keep your house and yard clear of things that could be dangerous for your dog to swallow. I once had a Beagle named Daisy who got into the kitchen trash and swallowed a chicken bone. She began coughing, and it continued through the evening.
The next morning I took her to the vet, and he discovered that a one-inch-long chicken bone had become lodged horizontally in her throat! Fortunately, he was able to give her a mild sedative and removed the bone with long tweezers.
That was a close one – he said if she had swallowed the chicken bone it could’ve required surgery to remove it from her stomach. Dogs getting into the garbage can be dangerous. They can swallow things and choke, or get things stuck in their throat like Daisy did. You can get help with this issue by reading my article (video included), How to Keep the Dog Out of the Garbage. There are also several foods that are poisonous for dogs.
If your dog is suffering from a sore throat, giving him a vitamin C supplement can help speed up the healing process. You can purchase a vitamin C supplement HERE. Also, you might add water or broth to your dog’s food (if he eats dry food) until the sore throat heals. You can purchase products to help your dog’s sore throat HERE.
Kennel cough in dogs can sound like your dog is choking, and is a fairly constant cough. Kennel cough is highly contagious. Your dog can get kennel cough from other dogs who have it – perhaps at a dog park, a shelter, at doggy daycare, or at a kennel (though most kennels have strict guidelines that don’t allow sick dogs). Kennel cough typically lasts approximately three weeks in healthy dogs. For elderly dogs and puppies, it can last more like six weeks.
There are vaccines for kennel cough which are effective at preventing kennel cough. If you’re planning on kenneling your dog, the establishment will likely require proof of this vaccine.
If you suspect your dog has kennel cough, you should speak with your vet. Kennel cough usually causes only mild illness and discomfort, but it can go deeper into the lungs and cause serious problems like pneumonia or chronic bronchitis. Especially if your dog is older or has any sort of health issues. Some dogs may need antibiotics to treat kennel cough.
While your dog is recovering, you can help make your dog comfortable. You could try adding a teaspoon of honey to his food, or add water or broth to their food (if they eat dry food) to make swallowing more comfortable. You can purchase products to help your dog with kennel cough HERE.
A cough caused by allergies can sound like gagging or honking. Allergies in dogs can be managed once you’re able to determine what the dog is allergic to. Certain breeds, such as Pugs, French Bulldogs, as well as some Retrievers, Terriers and Setters, are known to be more prone to allergies.
The most common allergens include mold, pollen, cigarette smoke, dust, cleaning products and certain foods. You can try removing certain foods, products or environmental factors (such as dust or smoke), one at a time, to see if the coughing subsides. Once you know what is causing your dog to cough, it’s easy to limit or completely eliminate his exposure to that allergen.
Work with your veterinarian to help your dog with this issue. Your dog’s symptoms may be managed by using an antihistamine spray or tablet, under your veterinarian’s direction. You can purchase products to help your dog with allergies HERE.
4. Collapsed Trachea
This is quite a terrible sounding cough, similar to a duck quacking or a honking sound. The cause has not been determined, but it can be caused by a long-term respiratory illness or a genetic predisposition. Collapsed trachea is most common on small and toy breeds, and specific breeds seem to be more prone to this condition such as Yorkshire Terriers, Toy Poodles, Pomeranians, Malteses, and Chihuahuas.
There is no cure for tracheal collapse. However, it can often be managed with medication and taking steps to provide relief for the dog and to prevent the condition from worsening.
Medical intervention is necessary for this condition, because it can hinder your dog’s ability to breathe and can even be life threatening. But there are things you can do to help your dog:
Help your dog lose weight. If your dog is overweight, it isn’t helping this condition. Read my article (video included), How to Help Your Dog Lose Weight for fairly easy ways you can help your dog lose weight.
Buy a harness. Getting a harness for your dog instead of a collar is a great way to keep your dog from putting pressure on his throat when on the leash. You should make this change right away. You can purchase a variety of harnesses HERE.
Provide Calcium. Giving your dog a calcium supplement may be helpful, as tracheal collapse can happen due to weakening of the cartilage. You should ask your vet if you should provide this for your dog. You can purchase a calcium supplement HERE.
Surgery is available for your dog if this condition becomes serious and cannot be managed with the above steps. Keep your vet informed on your dog’s progress and let your vet know immediately if the condition worsens.
For more information about collapsed trachea in dogs, read my article (video included), Why Does My Dog Keep on Coughing? Collapsed Trachea in Dogs.
5. Heart Disease
Among the many types of heart disease in dogs is a condition called, Congestive Heart Failure. This is when the heart does not pump properly, causing fluid to start accumulating in the lungs, thus the coughing. Coughing caused by this disease typically starts when your dog is lying down. This is a serious medical condition which needs immediate attention by your veterinarian.
Medication is necessary to provide relief for your dog, help him to breathe, and prolong his life. I personally have had two dogs with this disease. It’s important to work closely with your veterinarian to make the dog comfortable for as long as possible.
6. Lung Issues
Coughing in dogs can also be caused by certain lung issues. Though less common, the following are possibilities your veterinarian will want to rule out:
It’s always wise to call your veterinarian if your dog is coughing. You don’t want to take a risk that it might be a serious medical issue causing your dog to cough, and you also want to provide relief for your dog as soon as possible. Many times the reason for the cough can be treated, but will require your vet’s help. The sooner you call the vet, the sooner your dog can get relief, and the most likely a serious medical issue can be caught early.
I Hope This Helped!
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Disclaimer: I am not a veterinarian