Everything You Need to Know About Dog Coughing
For the majority of dog parents, there are periods of uncertainty as it’ll come to their pet’s health. For instance, when folks discover themselves coughing, it usually is a sign of various conditions – we might be fighting a cold or simply clearing our throats. In a few cases, it might be a sign of something more severe, like lung disease or bronchial infection.
Why Does My Dog Keep Coughing?
Likewise, in the instance of our pets, dog coughing might signify various health problems. In this why do dogs cough post, we will explore the different kinds of coughs to be aware to and what they actually sound like to offer proper care to your dog.
Kinds of Dog Coughs: Recognizing the Causes and Signs
My dog is coughing, now what? As you notice your pet is coughing, it is vital that you pay attention to the symptoms, signs, and sounds he is making. There are several factors which may be taken into consideration – like his environmental circumstances, overall health, and even dog breed – while determining the cause of the cough. Below, we have identified some of the main kinds of dog cough symptoms, as well as why your pet is suffering:
Kennel cough, recognized for its deep tone and dry, hacking sound, typically worsens the longer your dog has been dealing with the illness. The infection is very contagious, and either is viral or bacterial in origin. If the pooch recently has been boarded inside a kennel, touched a massive quantity of canines at a park, in an obedience class, at a groomer’s, or in likewise social situations, he might’ve become exposed to the infection.
Causes of Dog Kennel Cough
Kennel cough is among the most widespread dog health conditions. As a matter of fact, this type of cough was given its name because it may spread rapidly through a kennel and infect all dogs. It’s spread as a sick pup coughs and releases germs inside the air, by direct contact with an infected dog or cat or through sharing contaminated items, like water bowls or toys. It may be passed through contaminated surfaces, touching noses, or airborne droplets. Your pooch even can pick up this type of cough from something as simplistic as sharing drinks from contaminated bowls at a dog park or greeting an infected canine during a walk.
Kennel cough is typically contracted in a space in which there are lots of dogs, like dog shows, training groups, dog parks, grooming salons, vet waiting rooms, day care centers, animal shelters, and boarding kennels. However, kennel cough may spread especially quickly anywhere that canines get together in close quarters.
Kennel cough is like the cold in humans in that the conditions itself may be caused by various factors. Multiple microorganisms may contribute to kennel cough, which includes mycoplasma, parainfluenza virus, canine adenovirus, and Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria. They may cause symptoms of the disease alone or within some combination, yet infections caused by several organisms generally will lead to the most serious symptoms.
The most typical cause of these includes Bordetella bronchiseptica, which is why this type of cough sometimes is simply called Bordetella. The majority of dogs which acquire Bordetella already are infected with some additional virus at the same time. Those viruses make the pup more vulnerable to contracting the Bordetella infection, and may include canine reovirus, parainfluenza virus, canine herpes virus, canine distemper virus, and canine adenovirus.
More literally, canines “catch” kennel cough as they inhale virus particles or bacteria into their respiratory tract. The respiratory tract of a dog typically is lined with a coating of mucus which traps infectious particles, yet a dog may be susceptible to the kennel cough infection in instances in which this mucus protection was weakened.
Numerous factors may weaken a pup’s mucus protection, which includes:
- Travel-induced stress
- Exposure to cigarette smoke or dust
- Cold temperatures
- Exposure to poorly ventilated and/or crowded conditions. Those conditions often are found in many animal shelters and kennels.
As a pooch contracts kennel cough, it’ll cause an inflammation of the voice box and windpipe. If your pup catches kennel cough, signs related to the condition might appear 3 - 4 days after exposure to a massive number of other canines. Whenever your pet all of a sudden develops the characteristic hacking, dry cough, that seems as if something is stuck inside their throat that they cannot get out—kennel cough ought to be suspected.
Coughing Caused by Allergies
Similar to allergies in humans, our dogs also are prone to hay fever and environmental, seasonal, and food allergies. If you think your pooch is displaying indications of allergies it is vital that you have your veterinarian diagnose him to rule out all and any possible causes of irritation, especially food-associated triggers.
My dog is coughing like something is stuck in his throat. In the instance in which you see your dog coughing and gagging, accompanied by an increasing amount of lip-licking and swallowing motions, he might have a sore throat. Your veterinarian will have the ability to determine if he has tonsillitis or is just experiencing a sore throat; he also may have something lodged inside his throat. Thereby, the causes for a puppy coughing and gagging may differ.
if your dog coughing up phlegm or your dog coughing mucus or sounds gargling or wet, it might be a sign of a build-up of mucus inside the lungs. Usually an indication of pneumonia, the illness is caused by either a virus, bacteria, parasites or a fungal infection. Canines who are at highest risk are puppies, senior dogs, or the ones that have a compromised or weak immune system. It ought to be noted that your pooch also can develop pneumonia if he inhales a foreign item or your dog coughing up mucus.
Toy Breed Coughing
In the case of unusual noises coming from a toy breed, it might be a sign of a condition called collapsing trachea. It usually is marked by a deep sounding cough resembling a goose that’s honking and occurs when the dog is pulling too hard against a dog collar.
Heart Disease and Coughing in Breed-Specific Dogs
Specific dog breeds are more susceptible to heart disease in dogs, like Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. If you see your pup is coughing mostly while lying down or at night, it oftentimes is an indication that the ailment is getting worse.
What to Expect When you Treat Your Pet’s Cough
Being careful as a dog owner involves recognizing the various aforementioned symptoms and signs, and the following measure would be to bring him to a vet for a thorough physical. In the majority of instances, each of these kinds of coughs and conditions they are indicative of may be treated if assessed early, especially if your pet is coughing persistently or violently and is showing other indications of distress or fatigue.
Once the veterinarian has diagnosed the cause of sickness, he’ll treat him appropriately. For pups experiencing kennel cough, an antibiotic course is prescribed, and your dog must be isolated from other canines, so he does not spread the contagious infection. You may assist in easing his pain by doing the exact same things which help humans when they are congested, like bringing him inside the restroom during a warm shower so he may take in the steam; you also may want to use a humidifier to boost the moisture inside the atmosphere of your home.
If you believe your pet might’ve inhaled or swallowed something, like an acorn, grass seed, or additional foreign body, it is vital to act rapidly. If your pet plays outdoors, particularly in the park or in grassy or wooded places, keep a close eye on him to avoid these types of instances whenever possible. If your dog does not cough up what seems to be something trapped inside his throat, it is essential to bring him to the vet to avoid asphyxiation or choking, yet also to make sure whatever is lodged inside his throat does not lead to a bacterial infection or pneumonia. The vet will have the ability to determine the cause and extract the foreign object if that’s the case.
For dogs diagnosed with tonsillitis, pneumonia, or sore throat, your vet will treat your dog with antibiotics to clear his symptoms. Unlike human beings, your dog will not require a tonsillectomy if he has tonsillitis. If you think your pooch suffers allergies, your veterinarian might prescribe medicine, supplements or special diet to ensure his health.
Even though not quite as severe as some of the additional cough-associated illnesses on the list, tracheal collapse still is something you ought to be on the lookout for in elderly toy dog breeds. Frequently seen in senior canines, the condition is the consequence of aggressive behavior on your dog’s behalf, and typically is due to being very excitable and overweight.
For instance, if your toy dog breed sees another dog, he might pull on his dog leash, and place undue pressure on the throat. In addition to keeping an eye on his weight, as well as training him not to pull on his dog leash, you also may want to avoid confrontational situations which might set him off. Providing your dog sufficient exercise, feeding him special food to regulate his weight, and considering supplements that support his health, also can be very useful in protecting your pet against this ailment.
Because coughing is among the signs related to congestive heart failure, it is crucial that you take your pet to the veterinarian if you think his health is in danger, especially if his breed is susceptible to heart disease or the cough is accompanied by rapid or labored panting/breathing, bloody discharge, or the dog collapses. In cases in which your pup’s ailment is serious, the vet might suggest seeing an internal medicine specialist or vet cardiologist. If caught early enough, your pet’s quality of life and ailment might be manageable with specific prescription meds.
Besides the aforementioned dog coughing conditions, there are other potential causes, which includes distemper, heartworm disease, chronic bronchitis, canine influenza, and specific kinds of cancer. For pups diagnosed with fungal infections, your pet’s doctor might prescribe medicined to treat your dog.
For dog diseases like distemper and heartworms, a vaccination ought to be administered by the vet to protect your pet against these harmful ailments. Even though the occasional cough is not anything to stress over, if you see a persistent cough in conjunction with any of the above outlined symptoms, make certain to immediately bring your dog to the vet for a professional medical assessment.
When to Bring your Pet to the Vet
As with humans, it is normal for your pet to sneeze or cough on occasion – inhaling debris, dust, and germs may affect his respiratory functions. Plus, just like humans, dogs may also get infections and viruses. But, if your pet is excessively coughing or does not seem able to stop, he might require a trip to the veterinarian for a treatment and exam.
If your pet displays any of the following symptoms, it’s smart to take him to the veterinarian:
- He suddenly collapses
- He has additional health issues
- He has a fever
- He displays loss of appetite or will not drink/eat
- He displays indications of extreme lethargy or fatigue
- He’s coughing up blood
- He’s vomiting
- He’s retching or coughing profusely
- His cough has lasted more than one week or has progressively gotten worse
In most cases, your vet might ask these questions, like:
- When was the last time he took his medicine?
- Is your pet update on his heartworm prevention routine and annual shots?
- Has there been any substantial changes to your dog’s daily regimen?
- Where has your pet visited lately?
- When he coughs, does it sound as if he is going to throw up?
- Does his cough sound hoarse and dry or moist and wet?
- What does your pet’s cough sound like?
- When does your dog usually coughs – after drinking/eating, at night, after he has gone for a walk or engaged in physical activity, or when he is excited?
- Is your pet having a hard time breathing between coughing spells?
Once the vet has thoroughly assessed your pet, he will run tests to determine the cause of his ailment, which might range from viruses and allergies to underlying health conditions. Therefore, your pet’s treatment will depend on his diagnosis.
How to Manage Your Pet’s Cough
Even though diagnosing your pet’s ailment might require a good amount of tests, the vet will offer you directions on care once he is admitted. If he needs overnight hospitalization, treatment, or an operation, it is important to follow instructions after any treatments.
Additionally, if he is prescribed any meds whatsoever, make certain to administer the drugs precisely as directed, and finish all treatment courses – too frequently, folks will either forget or notice an improvement in their pet’s health and stop administering them their meds, and the infection or illness might come back, occasionally even worse than it was before.
Make certain to follow up with the vet and remain in consistent communication with his clinic, especially if you do not see any improvement. In specific cases, you might have to take your dog back to your vet for follow-up examinations to assess his progress. In extreme instances, long-term therapy might be needed for a complete recovery.
Show Your Dog Some Additional Love
As any pet owner can attest, our dogs are one of the family. And with that being said, it is useful to lavish him with an additional dose of attention and care when he is in recovery – just like you might for any one of your family members. To begin with, be certain that your pet has a comfy area to sleep, free of drafts and loud sound, if it’s possible; proper sleep is important to his recovery.
You also may want to speak with your veterinarian about his diet – if he suffers from allergies or requires a weight management regimen, there are numerous foods made for your dog’s needs. It also is essential for him to remain hydrated; therefore, be certain to check his water bowl and if he is nauseous, offer him ice chips.
Lastly, if he is contagious, keep him quarantined as much as you can to avoid the spread of sickness to other pets. If you have a home with kids, explain to them that your pet requires his sleep; offering him a crate that is lined with a towel, blanket, and favorite toy may be a safe haven for your dog to get his sleep while permitting him to recover if he is displaying signs of requiring some alone-time.
One way to keep your pet healthy is through preventative care – make sure you track his yearly charts on a calendar, which includes shots for heartworm and additional viruses and contagious ailments. Avoid sick dogs whenever you can and be aware of his symptoms so that it’s possible to treat his condition in a timely way to avoid more complications. In combining healthy regimens and prevention measures, it’s possible to ensure your dog lives a long life.
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Dr. Sara Ochoa
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, St. Georges University
Sara Redding Ochoa, DVM was raised in north Louisiana. She graduated from LA Tech in 2011 with a degree in animal science. She then moved to Grenada West Indies for veterinary school. She completed her clinical year at Louisiana State University and graduated in 2015 from St. George’s University. Since veterinary school she has been working at a small animal and exotic veterinary clinic in east Texas, where she has experience treating all species that walk in the hospital. In her free time, she likes to travel with her husband Greg, bake yummy desserts and spend time with her 4-legged fur kids, a dog Ruby, a cat Oliver James “OJ”, a rabbit BamBam and a tortoise MonkeyMan.
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Please do not ask for emergency or specific medical questions about your pets in the comments. Innovet Pet Products is unable to provide you with specific medical advice or counseling. A detailed physical exam, patient history, and an established veterinarian are required to provide specific medical advice. If you are worried that your pet requires emergency attention or if you have specific medical questions related to your pet’s current or chronic health conditions, please contact or visit your local/preferred veterinarian, an animal-specific poison control hotline, or your local emergency veterinary care center.
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