It’s quite normal for humans to cough around 18 times a day even when they’re feeling quite well. Occasional coughing is a natural reflex that helps clear the throat and airways of dust, germs and mucus. It’s a similar story with dogs coughing.
So, what happens if your dog has regular coughing fits or seems to be coughing more than you’d expect? Find out when it could be time to worry as we take a look at some of the more serious reasons that might lie behind coughing and dogs.
Why Does My Dog Cough?
Like us, the most common reason is to clear their throat. Dogs are naturally social animals that like to scavenge. They use their noses to sniff out and make all sorts of new and exciting discoveries.
Sometimes this can mean inhaling harmful viruses and bacteria such as the canine form of flu. Germs are present wherever their noses take them- on food bowls, furnishings, toys, park benches, other pets and rocky beaches.
Given their propensity to sniff and smell almost anything, it’s perhaps surprising they don’t get sick more often.
What Are Worrying Types of Dog Cough?
Listening to the kind of cough your dog has can sometimes help both you and your vet identify what might be going on. If possible, take a video of your dog coughing so that your vet can see exactly what the cough sounds like and how your pet reacts. Here are some common types of cough:
1. Deep, Dry, Hacking and Honking
A deep, dry, honking cough might be a symptom of kennel cough. Kennel cough is a highly contagious disease that typically only leads to mild sickness and discomfort. It can work its way down into the lungs where it can cause serious issues such as chronic bronchitis or pneumonia.
Dogs can pick up kennel cough anywhere they come into close contact with other dogs. Your vet would normally prescribe medication to treat the cough and will almost certainly recommend you keep your pet away from other dogs until the infection clears up.
2. High-Pitched and Gagging
This might suggest an upper airway irritation, infection or partial blockage. Your dog may be suffering from a sore throat as a result of a sinus issue or tonsillitis, a fairly uncommon condition in dogs.
The sore throat could also be due to some kind of foreign object that’s become stuck in the esophagus, such as a tiny piece of bone or a small toy. This can be life-threatening and you should always seek immediate advice from your vet.
3. Wet, Phlegmy and Moist
This could mean there’s a lower airway or lung problem. Wet, gargling coughs can be an indication that your dog has fluid on their lungs. At the same time, breathing might seem strained and you should seek your vet’s help straight away.
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Puppies and dogs with compromised immune systems are more prone to lung infections or pneumonia. Causes can include bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi. The inhalation of harmful toxic substances and chemicals can also lead to lung issues.
Are Certain Breeds Susceptible to Coughing?
Toy breeds like the Chihuahua and Chinese Crested along with obese dogs can be at a higher risk of tracheal collapse. One of its symptoms is a cough that has the honking sound like the one geese make. It may get even more noticeable when your dog is pulling on their collar.
If the heart is not pumping properly, the result can be an accumulation of fluid on the lungs. Breeds such as Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are prone to this and may begin to cough as heart disease takes hold.
This can often happen when the dog is lying down or sleeping and as the fluid continues to build up. The coughing is a symptom that means all is not well and you should immediately seek the advice of your vet.
What Are Less Common Causes of Dog Cough?
There are some other, less frequent causes of coughing in dogs that can be serious and that your vet may want to check for and rule out. These include:
- Dog Flu
- Chronic bronchitis
It’s important that your vet has the opportunity to make the right diagnosis so that there’s the best chance of getting the dog the most appropriate treatment. They’ll want to find the underlying cause by weighing up the signs and carrying out a series of tests.
This may include a physical exam, listening to your dog’s lungs and heart, taking your dog’s temperature and further diagnostic investigations.
If your dog has some kind of sore throat, they might need anti-inflammatories. If there’s an infection they may need antibiotics or, if there’s evidence of heart disease, they’ll require a special kind of prescribed medication.
When Should I Call the Vet About My Coughing Dog?
Once you’ve looked after a dog for some time, you’re going to get to know them better than anyone. If you have concerns about the kind of cough your dog has and its frequency, it’s time to see the vet. You should take your dog to the vet straight away if:
- The coughing symptoms deteriorate rather than get better
- Your dog is unable to stop coughing
- The coughing lasts for more than a few days and keeps them awake at night
- Your pet is floppy, lethargic and has no appetite
- You know your dog has swallowed something that’s become stuck in their throat
- Your dog has other health-related issues as well as their cough
- Your dog coughs up blood, is breathing oddly or finding it hard to breathe at all
Still Worried? Get in Touch Right Now!
We know how upsetting it can be to see a distressed dog having a coughing fit or finding it hard to breathe normally. We always have a qualified vet standing by to offer help and advice, so whatever your concerns are, talk to us today.
We have a range of other helpful, dog-related articles in our blog section. Check here for everything you need to do if your dog is suffering from a bout of diarrhea or vomiting.