There are many reasons your dog may be coughing. It could be something as simple as a scratch in the pet’s throat that causes a solitary cough, or it could be an indication of a major situation. In most cases, dog coughing should be taken seriously, and an owner should seek help as soon as possible. If the animal’s regular veterinarian is unavailable, it is important to find an emergency animal hospital that is open. There are several conditions that may be causing your animal’s condition.
Kennel cough is one of the most common types of dog’s cough. This highly contagious disease is usually passed around animals that have been in close proximity with each other. Left untreated, kennel cough can last for months and cause a dog substantial pain. You may suspect this condition if the cough is dry and hacking and gets worse if the dog is exercising or excited.
There are two types of heart failure that can affect a canine: right-sided heart failure and left-sided heart failure. With left-sided failure, the pumping system on that side of the heart stops working, causing fluid to accumulate in the lungs. If you notice the dogs coughs while lying down or at night, it may be a sign of heart failure. This is an emergent situation and requires immediate attention.
There are several other conditions that may cause dog coughing:
- Collapsing Trachea: Toy breeds may exhibit a cough that sounds almost like a goose honking.
- Tonsillitis: This would involve a weak and gagging cough and persisting lip-licking.
- Pneumonia: If the cough is moist, it may indicate that fluid or phlegm has settled in the dog’s lungs.
Diagnosis and Treatment
If you take your dog to a vet or an emergency facility, odds are that the physician will want to do a chest X-ray to look for clues. The veterinarian may also suggest a transtracheal washing, which would target cells along the trachea with saline solution. Depending on the situation, a vet may recommend a bronchoscopy. This procedure will require the dog to be sedated so the doctor can place an endoscopic camera into the animal to view the inside of the respiratory tract.
Once the physician has made a diagnosis, there are several options for treating a dog cough. In most cases, the vet will suggest a regimen of medication, proper nutrition and perhaps even exercise. An owner can take a few steps at home as well, such as:
- Eliminating any potential irritants, such as house cleaners, cigarette smoke, dust and perfume.
- Allow a dog with a dry cough to sit in the bathroom during hot showers, as the steam will help loosen phlegm.
- Use cough suppressants under the guidance of the animal’s physician.
Listening to your dog coughing can be painful, as you know your pet is uncomfortable and you want to help. The best thing to do is to visit a trusted professional who can make an accurate diagnosis. In some situations, a dog cough can indicate a serious problem that needs immediate attention. The vet will run a series of tests to diagnose the issue and then provide a treatment plan that owners should follow to the letter.