Why is my dog coughing? - The Community Leader and Real Estate New and Views


Dogs can develop a cough from many different causes. While a cough can sometimes be the result of mild airway irritation, other times, it can be the sign of a serious disease process. Below are some of the more common causes of coughs in dogs.

Kennel cough
Kennel cough, or “infectious tracheobronchitis”, is a common cause of coughing which may affect dogs of any age. A number of different viruses and bacteria may be implicated in this condition, some of which dogs are routinely vaccinated against. Kennel cough is very contagious and can spread readily through the air when dogs are in close contact. Affected dogs may appear to have something stuck in their throat as the inflammation of the trachea will cause a hacking cough and may result in a white, frothy fluid being expelled.

Tracheal collapse
Tracheal collapse occurs as a result of weakening cartilage rings in the trachea. This results in a harsh, honking cough more commonly seen in elderly small-breed dogs, although it may also be a congenital condition. Severe cases require surgical intervention and stent placement to prevent the trachea from collapsing on itself.

Allergic airway disease
Dogs may develop a cough in response to environmental allergens, including pollen and moulds. Bronchitis (inflammation of the small airways) results in coughing, gagging, wheezing and a reduction in exercise tolerance. Anti-inflammatory medications such as steroids or antihistamines may be required to reduce the severity of the cough.

Heart disease
Dogs with heart murmurs and congestive heart failure may develop a cough as a result of fluid congestion in the chest or an enlarged heart pushing on the larger airways. A “cardiac cough” is often quieter in volume than a respiratory cough. Medical attention is necessary for any dog with a known underlying heart condition that develops a cough.

Other causes of coughs

  • Parasitic diseases, including heartworm disease, tick paralysis or lungworm infection
  • Pneumonia – this may be viral, bacterial or fungal in cause
  • Lung cancer

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