Why Is My Dog Coughing?

You know the feeling. You’re in the middle of your usually busy day, trying to get the stuff you need to do…well, done. And the last thing you need now is another complication.

But here it comes…out of the blue, your dog starts coughing. And coughing. And coughing.

You can’t be blamed for thinking, “Now what?”

Actually, there are a few “whats.”

Generally speaking, Wolfie’s cough is probably due to some harmless irritation. After all, we’re dealing with creatures that make friends with their environment utilizing their mouths and noses. It’s only natural that Wolfie might experience some irritation and/or ingest something that she needs to cough up. So, if the hacking episodes are occasional and short-lived, well, that’s pretty normal. You probably have nothing to worry about, so you can relax and get back to your day. (I hope you get everything done.)

But…if the cough gets worse—or if it persists for days—it is probably smart to give your veterinary provider a call, since there are a number of things your animal companion might be suffering from that need attention.

For example, if your doggie’s cough sounds deep, it could be due to bronchitis.

A cough that sounds like a goose honking might indicate that something’s off in the upper respiratory system or upper airway. It could also be a symptom of a tracheal collapse, which is generally more often found in small dogs like the Maltese.

A wet cough could be symptomatic of a bacterial infection, or—in some cases—pneumonia.

A persistent gag is probably telling you that something is stuck in Penny’s throat.

In addition to the cough, you might want to be aware of other warning signs. For example, is she less active than normal? That can be a red flag. How’s his appetite? Blowing off meals is a definite flare, as is a fever. You’ll want to get your four-legged buddy evaluated by your vet as soon as you can.

This is certainly true when it comes to choking. A choking pet needs immediate attention, so get her to the Animal Hospital as quickly as you can. And it might not hurt to learn CPR for dogs just in case your friend has stopped breathing or has no heartbeat (though CPR is an absolute last resort option, which might have harmful consequences of its own).

You should be aware that Kennel Cough might be the cause of that deep, dry hack. Kennel Cough is easily spread from one canine to another, and can cause pneumonia. The good news is, we have shots to help prevent it. But if Chuckles does come down with K.C., we can give him an antibiotic which will generally clear it up.

Not Kennel Cough? Well, whew! That’s good news. But don’t go back to your chores yet. A deep, dry cough can also be a sign that your pup has an allergy. We can test for those and get treatment going on in that case as well.

What about that wet cough that presents with phlegm? Well, yuck…but that’s usually a symptom of pneumonia. Young pups and senior (dog) citizens are generally the victims here, and they’ll have a tough time breathing even when they’re not coughing. Again, antibiotics will generally take care of this problem, though in some cases, we may need to treat an ailing animal with a breathing aid such as a nebulizer.

Oh, did you know that dogs can get the flu? It’s a canine variety, so you don’t have to sweat catching it yourself. If the canine flu is causing your dog’s cough, we can treat it with the proper medication.

As noted above, that goose-honk might indicate a tracheal collapse. Other signs include persistent wheezing, vomiting, or coughing during exercise. Again, a collapsing trachea is more common in toy dog breeds, particularly older ones who are overweight. What happens here is that the rings in the trachea begin to wear out and collapse, which blocks the airway and makes breathing tough. That “honk” is actually your doggie gasping for breath. You can help your friend by making sure they lose weight. Walking them with a harness rather than a collar is also a good idea, plus your vet might recommend some meds. In severe cases, surgery is an option.

That soft, continuous cough you hear when your dog is lying on her side? Well, that can be a sign of heart disease. What’s going on here is that her heart isn’t working properly, so fluid builds up in her lungs. She won’t be as active as a result. If she’s gagging up white and/or bloody liquid, you’ll want to bring her in for a visit fast. There are meds that can help her heart work. Other meds can prevent the fluid from building up. And the more severe cases can be treated with surgery.

Heartworm is another possible reason that Cranberry is coughing. Let’s not beat around the bush on this—heartworm is bad. So bad that it can kill your fur-baby. Those pesky mosquito larvae can get into her blood and wreak endless havoc on her heart, arteries, and lungs. You’ll want to keep heartworm at bay at all costs through year-round prevention. There are treatments if she actually contracts heartworm, of course, but they can take some time and they’re not cheap.

Prevention in general is a good idea anyway. It’s always smart to bring Corky in and let us do a check-up. Keeping current with shots and other preventatives is a great idea as well. We can also offer dietary recommendations, exercise programs, and other pet-related lifestyle suggestions that can really help your fluffy BFF live a full and healthy life.

So, remember…if that doggie cough is occasional and short-lived, it’s probably business-as-usual. But, again, if you notice your pet isn’t as active as normal, isn’t eating, or has a fever, you’ll want to take action. You can always reach out to us here at the Animal Hospital of Sullivan County: (845) 292-6711

667 Harris Rd

Ferndale NY 12734

Okay, go on back now and get your stuff done.

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