Why do dogs cough?

Why do dogs cough?

Why do dogs cough?

Coughing can be attributed to many different conditions in our canine friends, some more serious than others. It is best to see your veterinarian if your pet is doing any coughing that persists or continues.

Common Causes

  • Violent coughing, gagging, lip-smacking, or hard swallowing can be indicative of something stuck in the throat.

  • Reverse sneezing is a sound that is commonly mistaken choking or coughing. Reverse sneezing is not a cough it is caused by a spam in the throat and soft palate that can be caused by an irritant (pollen), exercise, or excitement. In a reverse sneeze air is pulled in rapidly and noisily through the nose. Most cases don’t require treatment unless the symptoms become worse or continues more frequently we recommend your pet be examined by one of our doctors.

  • Kennel cough is a bacterial infection that leads to a persistent productive deep hacking cough. Most cases are when the dog has been previously exposed to other dogs 2-14 days prior. A physical exam would be warranted by your veterinarian to see if your pet is in need of medical treatment.

  • A wet and productive cough could be a result of fluid buildup in the lungs. Pneumonia can present as difficulty breathing, unable to get comfortable, blue mucous membrane color, lethargy, loss of appetite and fever. Pneumonia can be life-threatening and your pet should be seen by your veterinarian as soon as possible.

  • Collapsing trachea can sound like a honk or a goose-like sound. This is more common in small breeds. This can be a chronic condition that is acquired or congenital. Most of these patients will gag or show distress when pulling on a neck collar or palpation of their larynx.

  • Heart disease patients are often first diagnosed when presented for chronic or persistent coughing. These patients can also have significant lethargy, exercise intolerance, difficulty breathing, or even coughing while at rest. Your veterinarian will auscult the heart and may recommend radiographs or an ultrasound of the heart.

Written by Cindy Handselman, LVT at Pittsfield Veterinary Hospital
Cindy Hanselman
Cindy Hanselman, LVT
Lead Surgical Technician & Inventory Manager