Is your dog coughing, and don’t you know why? First off, relax. It probably isn’t anything more than the same things that make you cough, even though you have a clean bill of health. Much of the time, a cough is simply due to an irritation in the throat that is due to dry air or exposure to pollutants like cigarette smoke. Your dog’s cough can be an indicator of underlying issues, but just as often, nothing serious.
You only need to worry if the cough is persistent, dry and hacking, bubbly and moist, or weak and wheezy. Even then, it might not be a huge issue, but a visit to the vet could be in order. But, first, let’s talk about some of the more serious types of coughing in dogs, such as kennel cough, and whether you should provide cough suppressants for your dog or not.
Dog Coughing? Here’s What You Need to Know
If your dog is coughing, it can be caused by many different reasons. It could be a symptom of a disease such as a heart condition, worms, or perhaps an infection. Or it could be a harmless cough that will pass in no time.
So, what about coughing? You know, that horrible hacking sound that could be nothing at all or could be something serious. How do you know the difference? to help your dog clean the airways for dust and dirt.
Both animals and us humans have a tendency to cough when something is stuck in our throat, whether it be a few grains of rice, saliva, or something else. This is nature’s way of helping us get rid of the issue. So is your dog coughing? Here is what you need to know.
Things to Consider When Your Dog Is Coughing
Perhaps your furry friend has a cough when eating food or drinking water, or perhaps it only coughs in its sleep, or maybe when you are outside and doing physical activities? Notice how your dog is behaving aside from the cough.
Is your dog fully active as normal, or does it seem less active? How is the breathing? Is it shallow or raspy? Does your dog lose breath quickly, or does it have the same stamina as always? Dogs cough naturally from time to time. It could be because of an airway obstruction in the dog’s esophagus.
All of this can be critical information when your vet is trying to examine the dog, and it can indicate the underlying issue. Therefore, we recommend you try to answer these following questions before contacting your vet in order to provide as much information as possible to find out about the dog’s coughing.
- Is the cough raspy?
- Is it a dry or wet cough?
- Does the dog howl while coughing?
- Does your dog cough while sleeping?
- Does physical activity cause the coughing?
As you can see, there are quite a few different ways in which your dog might cough, and even more, different things could cause it. We will examine some of the most common causes for these symptoms through the article.
But remember that this article can’t list every single possible symptom or illness, so if you are unsure, contact your vet and book an appointment to provide the best care for your dog. Also, when researching pet health tips, you may come across ideas such as a cough suppressant or hear terms such as honking canine cough thrown around. Don’t worry too much about this; just focus on the main aspect so your dog’s coughing can be reported correctly to the vet, who can then diagnose further.
How Does Your Dog’s Cough Sound?
If you find blood after seeing your dog coughing, or if the dog is puking, you should consider calling a vet as soon as possible. Perhaps your dog has a dry cough, a mild cough, or perhaps an excessively wet cough that produces mucus as well.
How often does it cough? If the cough is only happening from time to time, it might be a good idea to record an audio or video clip of it to analyse together with a trained medical professional. An occasional cough should not be serious, but a persistent cough can often be more worrisome.
When Should You Contact a Vet About Your Coughing Dog?
If you notice your dog suddenly coughing extensively, you should always contact a vet since it might indicate a foreign object has stuck inside the airway. This can be an extremely serious issue that could be life-threatening in the worst-case scenario since it might choke your dog.
If your dog does not lie down to rest, it might be because it has difficulty breathing, and you should bring your animal companion to a clinic as soon as possible. On the other hand, if your dog has a controlled cough, and the regular state of the dog otherwise seems good and normal, you can wait a few days before contacting professional help.
Your vet will check for fluid in the lungs, any type of foreign body, or foreign objects in your dog’s stomach and throat, and hopefully, find the causes for coughing to avoid an increased risk of any potential issues.
Possible Reasons Why Your Dog Might Be Coughing
There are many potential reasons for why a dog could be coughing. Below we have listed some of the most common ones to help you potentially identify the reason and take appropriate measures. Remember to always trust the word of your vet or clinic over what you read online.
A dog cough can mean many things, from potential congestive heart failure or chronic bronchitis to nothing more than a small speck of dust or dirt stuck in the throat. Likewise, a hacking cough or honking cough can indicate certain things, whereas a canine cough with nasal discharge might mean something else entirely.
Kennel cough most often occurs when dogs are around other dogs, which is why people who show dogs are vigilant about keeping the kennel cough shots up to date. This type of cough sounds very dry and as though it is occurring high up in the throat.
Kennel cough is one of the most common reasons causing our dogs to cough. It is a contagious disease that blocks part of the upper airway and can be heard by a sort of barking cough that might trigger a puking response from the dog. However, in this case, the dog’s appetite and level of activity is often the same as before.
Right now, Amazon is offering HomeoPet Cough, 15 ml for just $12.50, down from $13.99, and if your order totals over $49.00, shipping is free. You can also try drizzling a tiny bit of honey mixed with water down your dog’s throat, but not too much honey since sugar can be harmful to your pet’s kidneys if too much is used.
This is a serious illness that can spread from animals in the wild, such as mosquitoes, snails, or frogs that are hosts to the worm, which then proceeds to live in the dog’s heart -- hence the name heartworm.
Once the worm has made its way to the dog, it can result in coughing, breathing trouble, and a general tiredness. This can be a very serious condition since the larvae of the worm can cause problems with the blood, causing small wounds to bleed for longer times and bleed more.
Heartworm can be treated, but it is much easier to prevent. Your vet can provide you with tablets that will ensure that your dog is protected from heartworm. This type of preventative treatment is not cheap but is still far less expensive than what is needed to cure a serious or moderate heartworm infestation that can cause bleeding problems.
An issue can cause the dog’s cough with the dog’s lungs. There are various types of problems, such as lungworm or pneumonia. Similar reasons as heartworm can cause lungworm. The dog has perhaps been bitten by a mosquito or eaten a snail in the wild. This can cause a dry cough, and treatment will take care of this. Not all dogs show signs or symptoms of lungworm.
Infected Lungs or Pneumonia
For pneumonia, it could mean that your dog’s airways are infected. This could be for many reasons, such as bacteria, a virus or fungus, or a serious heart condition, and even cancer. Oftentimes the dog will breathe faster and shallower, have less of an appetite, and your dog might also seem stationary and inactive.
If you suspect your furry friend has contracted pneumonia, you should immediately contact that vet since this illness always requires treatment and medical care.
There are many other things that could be wrong, but they are rarer, so we will just list the causes here and not go into too much detail about the specifics.
- Congestive heart failure
- Canine influenza virus
- Chronic bronchitis
- Heart disease
- Tracheal collapse
- Problems with the respiratory tract
- Viral infections
- Lung disease
- Fungal infections
All of these are relatively severe cases that most owners notice because of smaller symptoms, such as coughing whether small dogs or senior dogs, reduced appetite, and serious coughing in dogs could very well be one of the first signs that your dog needs an emergency vet immediately for proper veterinary treatment.
There they will look for clinical signs of causes of coughing and determine if it is a serious disease and what the best course of action might be. A definitive diagnosis can require a physical exam to determine the causes of coughing and to find out if the underlying cause is due to the ways dogs naturally cough, or potentially lung problems or heart disease.
How to Diagnose Your Dog’s Cough
When your dog is repeatedly coughing, your veterinarian will perform some clinical tests to find out the underlying cause. It can include measuring the dog’s temperature, and your vet might listen closely to the inner organs such as the heart and lungs with a stethoscope.
The mucosa will also be considered, just as the dog’s level of current activity will be compared with the normal levels. Appetite and potential weight loss or gain will also be taken into account.
Depending on what your vet suspects might be the reason for the cough, additional tests can be performed to find out whether the dog has heart problems, heartworm or lungworm, other infections, or something else entirely. For example, it might be necessary to take a blood sample or an x-ray of the chest area. Perhaps a biopsy is required to test for fungus or bacteria.
How a Dog’s Cough Might Be Treated
Luckily there are quite a few ways to treat the various reasons your dog might have for the unwanted coughing. For example, in the case of worms or bacterial infections, pills such as worm treatments or antibiotics might be used. In addition, various adrenal hormones can also be an effective way of treating some issues.
Kennel cough or worms are generally not dangerous, and most dogs recover perfectly from these. Still, some of the other illnesses we have mentioned in this article could be more serious and lead to permanent changes in the behavior and health of your furry and beloved family member.
Better Safe Than Sorry
Any episodes of coughing that continue should be a reason for a visit to the vet. Note when the coughing occurs as well as any other symptoms that might be present so that your vet can make a proper diagnosis. Most types of coughing can be prevented with proper vaccinations, so don’t play Russian roulette with your dog’s health.
You want to have your best buddy around for many years to come, so if all vaccinations are up to date (as they should be) and a cough worries you, err on the side of caution and schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to identify the cause of the cough and begin a course of treatment.