All dogs or puppies cough from time to time, and it’s no wonder they use their mouths and noses to explore the world. But how do you know if it’s something else and you need to call the vet? While the occasional cough is probably nothing to worry about if your dog coughs frequently or in a specific way, it might be worth talking to a vet to rule out something more serious.
Causes of dog cough
There are several causes of a dog cough, ranging from a mild illness to a more serious one.
But first, let’s look at the four main types of cough you may hear from your dog:
- Deep and dry
- Deep and honking
- Wet and phlegm
- Sharp jaw
Each of these coughs can indicate a different problem, but it is important to have this information to share with your veterinarian.
Irritated or choking throat
Like humans, dogs can cough if dust or another irritant gets into their throat. While uncommon for dogs, they may get a sore throat, a strep throat, or tonsillitis, but a bigger concern is something getting stuck in your dog’s throat and blocking his airway. Usually, you will hear sharp retching with irritation or foreign objects and you should take your dog to the vet immediately.
Kennel cough is another common cause why your dog might be coughing, especially if she hears a deep, dry, hooting cough. The disease is highly contagious and can pass into the lungs and cause pneumonia, so if you have other dogs in the house, you’ll want to get them checked out too. Your vet will likely prescribe an antibiotic and a cough suppressant, and it can often be prevented with the Bordetella vaccine.
Pneumonia, most commonly seen in young puppies or older dogs with compromised immune systems, is characterized by a wet, phlegmatic cough. It can be caused by everything from bacteria or viruses to breathing in something they have inhaled. The difference between pneumonia and other causes on this list is that your dog is probably going to possess difficulty breathing even when he’s not coughing if he’s a lung problem.
Dogs can get the flu too but don’t worry, it’s not the same as humans and it’s not transferable between humans and canines (although it is contagious from dog to dog). Your dog will need medication, but the cough can last up to a month. Some vets also offer a flu shot.
The collapse of the trachea
If your dog honks like a goose, he may have a collapsed or collapsed trachea. This occurs when the rings of the windpipe or windpipe begin to soften and collapse, blocking the airway. It is most common in toy breeds such as Yorkshire Terriers, Pomeranians, and Shih Tzus. If this is what is happening, you may notice your dog honking if he tugs on his neck during walks or when he gets excited. Your dog may also have a hard time exercising, especially when it’s hot or humid. Treatments are available and, in some cases, surgery may be recommended.
Heart disease or heart failure
Heart disease causes coughing because the heart valves or muscle don’t pump blood properly, causing fluid to build up in the lungs. You will usually hear a smooth, continuous cough when your dog is on his side or at night, and he will also have less energy and stamina during the day.
Heartworm is a life-threatening mosquito-borne disease. The larvae, or microfilariae, enter the bloodstream and can cause lasting damage to the dog’s lungs, heart, and arteries. A mild cough is the first sign of heartworm infection, followed by a persistent cough and difficulty exercising or running. it’s treatable if caught early, but treatment is long, very restrictive, and expensive. the simplest thanks to avoiding this is often to form sure your dog is on heartworm prevention year-round.
Less common causes of dog cough include:
- Chronic bronchitis
When to call the vet
Many of the underlying problems that cause coughing are treatable, but some can be life-threatening. If you are concerned about your puppy or dog, definitely call the vet if the cough worsens or lasts more than a week, your dog seems more tired than usual, has a fever, or has stopped eating.