You may believe that there are countless reasons why a dog can cough. You are right. There are many reopenings, and some are common while others are rare. Why does my dog cough? Well, here we will explain all the reasons that are common and a few that are rare. It is important to know why your dog has this issue in order to help him more and in less time. Yes, your pet needs proper treatment and help right now.
Understanding Canine Cough
When you hear your furry companion cough, it’s natural to feel a bit concerned. Coughing in dogs, much like in humans, can range from a simple, harmless tickle in the throat to an indicator of a more serious health issue. This section delves into what coughing signifies in dogs, how to differentiate between normal and abnormal coughing, and a brief overview of their respiratory system.
What Constitutes Coughing in Dogs?
Coughing is a reflexive action designed to clear the airways of irritants, secretions, or foreign particles. In dogs, it can sound like a harsh, dry hack or a wet, phlegmy noise. Understanding the type of cough can be crucial in identifying its cause.
Normal vs. Abnormal Coughing
- Normal Coughing: Occasional coughing in dogs is normal and not usually a cause for concern. This can happen if your dog inhales a small bit of dust or a grass particle while playing or sniffing around. These coughs are typically infrequent and resolve quickly.
- Abnormal Coughing: If the coughing is persistent, recurs frequently, or is accompanied by other symptoms (like wheezing, sneezing, or nasal discharge), it could be indicative of a health issue. The sound, frequency, and time of coughing (such as during the night or after exercise) can provide clues about the underlying cause.
The Canine Respiratory System
A brief overview of the canine respiratory system helps in understanding why dogs cough. The system includes the nose, throat, windpipe, and lungs. It’s designed to filter and warm the air, but sometimes irritants, allergens, or pathogens can trigger a cough reflex. Diseases affecting any part of this system, such as bronchitis or pneumonia, can also result in coughing.
Types of Coughs
- Dry, Hacking Cough: Often associated with conditions like kennel cough or tracheal irritation.
- Wet, Productive Cough: May indicate a buildup of fluid in the lungs, seen in conditions like pneumonia.
- Gagging or Honking: Common in cases of tracheal collapse, especially in small breeds.
Understanding the nature and context of your dog’s cough is the first step in addressing their health needs. It’s essential to observe and identify any accompanying symptoms to provide the best care for your canine friend. If in doubt, always consult with a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
10 Common Reasons Your Dog Cough
1. Canine Influenza
This is a fancy name for the flu that affects dogs. The symptoms and issues are similar to when a human suffers from an infection. This problem can last between 10 and 30 days, and yes, your pet will need treatment. Why does my dog cough? He has the flu, which is the most obvious answer here. Treatment includes medications that your pet needs. Keep in mind that you should quarantine sick dogs if you have more pets in the home.
2. Kennel Cough
Kennel cough, or tracheobronchitis, is a very common cause and one that affects the trachea and lower airways. A dog will have a dry and hacking cough and it will be worse when on leash. Treatment will include medications such as antibiotics and cough suppressants. Some dogs can get well without any treatment, but this is not something you should look for.
Some of you will say that this affects only young dogs and that adult pets are immune. This is not true. All dogs can end up with kennel cough, and it can be a severe problem. There is a vaccine that can protect your pet before any symptoms or issues appear.
Believe it or not, heartworms can cause coughing. This is one of the symptoms the disease will reveal. The cough will be mild and persistent. Energy loss and weight loss are other symptoms in this scenario.
Heartworm disease is more common in areas where the temperature is high (so there are more mosquitoes), but it is present all over the world. Some dogs don’t have any symptoms, which makes diagnosis extremely difficult. This disease can cause heart failure.
As you can assume, this is a common cause of cough in dogs. It is basically inflammation of the lungs and dogs who have it will have a moist and soft cough. They will not have an appetite, and they will have a fever. Treatment is more complex than in some other cases. These dogs will need medications and fluids, and they may even need hospitalization until they recover.
5. Collapsing Trachea
Tracheal collapse is another issue that can cause coughing in dogs. Small dog breeds (pugs, chihuahuas, etc.) are more prone to this problem. As the name suggests, it can happen when the trachea collapses. It will become soft as well, which makes things worse. Keep in mind that your pet will have a dry and persistent cough. It will be even worse when on the leash.
We must add that this problem requires serious treatment that includes medications such as antibiotics, bronchodilators, steroids, and cough suppressants. In rare situations, a dog may need surgery.
6. Heart Diseases
We must add that this is not the same as heartworm disease or any other disease on the list. This happens when your pet has a heart that is bigger than it should be. As a result, the heart will press the airways and make your pet cough.
Coughing will be worse at night and when your pet rests on the side. A cough will be dry and continuous. The treatment includes heart medications. There is no need to tell you that this is a severe disease, and you will want to take your pet to a vet as soon as you can. Last but not least, this is one of the more common causes of coughing in dogs.
7. Ingesting Toxic Substance
A dog can start coughing when he ingested or inhaled an irritant or poison. This includes rat poison, mold, chemicals and so much more. Even smoking inside the house can cause your dog to cough. We must add that rat poison is extremely dangerous in this particular case, and your pet will need immediate help. Regardless of the cause, you must take him to a vet and start treatment.
There is no other way to say this. Obesity can cause your pet to cough, and it is more common than you may believe. This happens when the excess weight puts stress on the airways and causes coughing. The solution is to help your dog lose weight. In the meantime, you may get some medications from a vet to treat coughing.
9. Blade of Grass
Here is one condition that looks simple and even impossible but can be extremely severe. If your poet inhales a blade of grass such as foxtail, he can end up coughing. The blade of grass can end up in the lungs or chest cavity. It can cause pneumothorax, pyothorax, pneumonia, and lung abscesses. An interesting thing here is that blades of grass can cause a mixture of all these diseases and conditions.
There are treatments for the problem. They are not simple, and they may be expensive, but they usually help. It is important to know that this can happen to any dog at any given moment. It will not go away by itself!
10. Certain Medications
It is important to add that some medications can cause coughing in a dog. This is a side effect. Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, or ACE, can cause coughing in dogs. As a matter of fact, coughing is a common side effect in this case. A cough will be dry and hacking, and it will happen at night most of the time. Once your pet stops taking medications, he will stop coughing!
Home Care and Management for a Coughing Dog
When your dog is coughing, it’s not only distressing for them but also for you as a pet owner. While it’s crucial to get veterinary advice for persistent or severe coughing, there are several home care strategies you can employ to help manage mild cases of coughing and ensure your dog’s comfort.
Creating a Comfortable Environment
- Keep the Air Clean: Ensure your home is free of dust, smoke, and strong odors that can irritate your dog’s respiratory system. Regular cleaning and the use of air purifiers can help reduce airborne irritants.
- Use a Humidifier: Dry air can exacerbate coughing. Using a humidifier in the room where your dog spends most of their time can help by adding moisture to the air, soothing their throat and reducing coughing.
- Provide a Quiet Rest Area: When dogs are ill, they need more rest. Create a quiet and comfortable resting area away from the hustle and bustle of the household. A soft bed in a warm, calm corner can make a big difference.
Diet and Hydration
- Ensure Adequate Hydration: Keeping your dog well-hydrated is important, especially when they are coughing. Fresh water helps to keep the throat moist and can soothe irritation.
- Soft Food Options: If your dog is showing signs of a sore throat, softer foods can be less irritating to swallow. Wet food or softened kibble can be easier for them to eat.
Gentle Care and Observation
- Limit Physical Activity: If your dog is coughing, avoid intense exercise, which can exacerbate the problem. Opt for gentle, short walks instead.
- Monitor Their Symptoms: Keep a close eye on your dog’s cough and any other symptoms that may develop. Note any changes in the frequency or intensity of the cough, as well as their eating, drinking, and bathroom habits.
Knowing When to Seek Veterinary Care
While home care can be effective for mild coughs, it’s vital to know when to seek professional help. If your dog’s cough persists for more than a few days, worsens, or is accompanied by other symptoms like lethargy, loss of appetite, difficulty breathing, or a change in behavior, contact your veterinarian. They can provide a proper diagnosis and treatment plan tailored to your dog’s specific needs.
Finally, preventative measures like keeping up with vaccinations and regular health check-ups can help reduce the likelihood of cough-related illnesses. Keeping your dog away from other dogs that are coughing or showing signs of illness is also a good practice.
The Final Word
Understanding why your dog coughs is essential in maintaining their health and well-being. While a cough can sometimes be a harmless response to a minor irritant, it can also indicate a more significant health issue. Being well-informed about the different reasons for dog coughing and knowing when to seek veterinary advice are key aspects of responsible pet ownership. Always pay close attention to your dog’s health, and don’t hesitate to consult with a professional for the best care.