Why Do Dogs Cough?

Dogs have a habit of sniffing and mouthing everywhere they go. On a walk they will smell dust, grass, leaves, stones and every other thing which comes their way. While smelling and mouthing things dogs can catch infectious diseases by droppings or droplets of other diseased dogs or can catch a dust or grass blade in his nose which can make him cough.

Hence it’s very difficult to know what is the exact reason for the dog to cough. Like humans, dogs do cough once in a while but if the cough is repetitive then you must call a doctor and get your dog checked.

Types of Dog Coughing:

In order to narrow down to the exact issue, doctor will ask you to identify the type of cough your dog is having. Type of cough is very helpful in identifying the cause of coughing in dogs.

Following are the types of coughing in dogs:

  • Wet coughs: Wet coughs are productive coughs during which dog will throw up mucus and phlegm. A wet cough means there is a presence of infection in lower respiratory system of the dog. If you hear gurgling sound from the chest and labored breathing even when the dog is not coughing, its time to call the doctor immediately. Ther might be water accumulated in the lungs which can be termed as pneumonia.
  • Dry coughs: Dry coughs are also known as nonproductive coughs when there is no production of cough or phlegm in the body. Dry cough means there might be an infection or irritation in the upper respiratory system of the dog.
  • A deep, dry, honking cough: A cough that sounds similar to a goose honk is commonly associated with the tracheal issue. Overweight dogs are at an increased risk of developing tracheal issues.
  • A high-pitched, gagging cough: A high pitched gagging cough suggests an upper respiratory irritation or infection. Either the dog is suffering from a sore throat, sinus or some foreign object is stuck in the throat.

Common Causes of Dog Cough

Kennel Cough

If a dog has dry cough then that could be a symptom of kennel cough. Kennel cough is a highly contagious disease that spreads from dogs to dogs. Most of the time Kennel cough gets treated by itself but in some situations this gets converted in pneumonia and can turn out to be dangerous for the infected dog.

Dogs isolation is recommended by the vets until the dog is not infection free since the dog can spread the disease to other dogs.

Sore Throat or Sinus of Foreign Object in Airway

If a dog has a high pitched, gagging cough then that could be a symptom of upper respiratory infection or irritation or even a partial blockage. The dog is either has a sore throat or has a sinus issue or has some foreign object stuck in his airway which is causing him to cough so loudly. A foreign object stuck in an airway is a serious condition and can prevent proper passage of air to the lungs of the dog.

Lung Problems

If a dog has a wet, phlegmy cough then that could be a symptom of lower respiratory infection or lung problem. If you hear a gurgling sound from the chest and labored breathing even when the dog is not coughing, its time to call the doctor immediately. Ther might be water accumulated in the lungs which can be termed as pneumonia.

Pneumonia usually happens to dogs with a compromised or weak immune systems of older dogs or underdeveloped immune systems of young puppies.

Tracheal Collapse

If a dog has a deep, dry, honking cough then that could be a symptom of tracheal collapse. The trachea is also called as the windpipe, it allows the passage of air, and is present in all air-breathing animals with lungs. One of the symptoms of tracheal collapse is a hacking sound like a goose. Generally, overweight or obese dogs are at risk of developing this issue.

Heart Disease

There are many types of heart diseases in dogs where the heart becomes weak as a pump and the lungs will start accumulating water in the lungs. This cough starts happening in an advanced stage of heart disease and the dog cough when he sleeps or rests. This is a serious symptom and definitely needs an urgent doctor need.

UnCommon Causes :

Following are some of the uncommon but very serious causes of dog cough:

  • Distemper
  • Heartworm
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Cancer

When to take your dog to vet?

If your dog shows any of the following symptoms,you should take you dog to the vet immediately:

  • Cough has last more than a week
  • Coughing profusely for a long duration of time
  • Vomiting while coughing
  • Coughing up blood
  • Signs of fatigue or lethargy
  • Has a fever

Questions that the vet will ask?

When you reach your vet’s clinic, vet will depend on you to help him understand the symptoms of your dog coughing.

  • Does your dog have difficulty breathing while coughing?
  • At what time of day or activity does your dog tend to cough i.e while sleeping, after dinner etc?
  • What does your dog’s cough sound like?
  • Does the cough sound dry or wet?
  • When dog coughs, does he show signs of about to vomit or not?
  • Did your dog go to a place where many dogs might visit i.e dog shelter etc?
  • Has the dog become lethargic lately?
  • Did the dog take his annual shots?

Diagnosis of Coughing in Dogs:

When a dog visits a vet with a cough, doctor will follow the procedure:

  1. Conduct a physical examination: In this physical examination, the vet will check the heartbeat and lungs of the dog. Missed heartbeat or water in lungs are serious symptoms and will require urgent action on the part of the vet. Vet will also check the throat and mouth of the dog to check if there is any foreign object stuck in airway.
  2. Conduct Diagnostic Tests: If doctor does not find a possible cause in physical examination will then recommend following diagnostic tests:
    1. Complete Blood Count Test
    2. Serum Biochemistry Profile
    3. Urinalysis
    4. Parasite tests

Treatment of Coughing in Dogs:

Based on the physical examination and the diagnostic test reports, the doctor will determine the path to recovery for your vet. As a dog parent, it will be your responsibility to follow the instructions of the doctor and take care of your dog till he is fine again.

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kennel_cough

https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/common-dog-diseases

I am a veterinary by profession and a passionate animal lover. My passion for animals made me become a veterinary surgeon and my vision is to spread animal health and welfare through online dissemination of information and assistance, like what we are doing at Drwaggers.com.