Why Is Your Dog Coughing?
Why Is Your Dog Coughing?
4 April, 2017
dog coughing

Most dogs will cough at some point in their lives and the occasional cough is not a concern.   But, sometimes if your dog is coughing or wheezing, it can be difficult to figure out the cause of the cough and could be an indicator of different health issues.  There are a few common reasons as to why dogs cough and what it means.

Below is a summary of some of the different kinds of coughs and what could be the culprit.

Kennel cough is the most common reason a dog starts coughing

When a healthy dog suddenly starts coughing, it’s usually due to kennel cough or another similar viral or bacterial infection. Kennel cough can involve a deep, dry hacking cough, sneezing, snorting, gagging, or even vomiting. There may also be spasms of coughing brought on by excitement or exercise.

If your dog has recently been in a situation with contact with other dogs, like a boarding facility or even play dates, your dog might have kennel cough infection. Symptoms usually appear from two to fourteen after exposure.   Since a serious episode of kennel cough can result in pneumonia, if your dog doesn’t improve on her own or if the cough becomes progressively worse, it’s important to make an appointment with your veterinarian.  See more about Kennel Cough

An intense cough usually means something is lodged in your dog’s throat

An intense cough that is more of a gagging sound, especially if your dog is licking his lips or making swallowing motions, could be a sign of a sore throat or something stuck in the throat.

If your dog has just come in from outdoors when the coughing starts, it’s likely he has ingested or inhaled a grass seed or other foreign object and it’s stuck in his throat. If your dog can’t seem to cough up whatever it is, you’ll want to make an appointment with your veterinarian right away.

Pneumonia is usually accompanied by a wet cough

A cough that sounds wet usually means there’s a buildup of fluid in the dog’s lungs. Fluid or phlegm in the lungs is a symptom of pneumonia, which can have a variety of causes. Bacterial pneumonia is caused by a pathogen, and there are several organisms that can result in infection. Fungal pneumonia is the result of a deep fungal lung infection, and is a more serious and hard-to-treat problem. Symptoms of pneumonia in addition to coughing include loss of appetite, weight loss, fever, lethargy and difficulty breathing.

Heart Disease can be indicated by a heavy coughing

One common symptom of heart disease in dogs is heavy coughing, particularly at night. This is why a thorough vet exam is so important, to catch serious conditions early on. Heart disease can be treated through weight loss and medications, but early detection is key.

Collapsing Trachea

Toy dog breeds, especially older ones, are at risk of a collapsing trachea. This can be made worse from pulling on a collar, obesity, or frequent bronchitis. This cough almost sounds like a goose honking. Weight loss is usually the first treatment, but veterinary treatment will be needed to keep the problem from getting worse.

Allergies and Asthma

Dogs can also have respiratory allergies or asthma that cause coughing or wheezing attacks.

Reverse Sneezing

Reverse sneezing is caused by a spasm of the throat and soft palate that is triggered by an irritant, which can include simple excitement, exercise, a collar that’s too tight, pollen, or even a sudden change in temperature. In a reverse sneeze, air is instead pulled rapidly and noisily in through the nose. The sound of a reverse sneeze can be startling, and many wonder if their dog is choking or having an asthma attack.

Most cases of reverse sneezing require no treatment. It is always a good idea to keep track of when the episodes occur so you can determine what the probable triggers are and try to avoid them.

As always, if your dog’s cough doesn’t get better, make sure to make an appointment with your veterinarian.

4 thoughts on “Why Is Your Dog Coughing?”

  1. I’ve also been told by a veterinarian that heartworm also causes a gag/ cough. I have one who is new to our family and she gags without vomiting frequently, several times per day. We have an appointment next week to find out why.

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