Dog Coughs: Causes, Diseases and Treatment

Your dog started coughing. What’s wrong with her? Did you catch a cold, choke, or have heart problems? The causes of coughing in a dog can be very different, so you need to find out what happened to your pet and start treatment.

It is not necessary to delay the start of the examination, since coughing causes great discomfort to the dog and can be the first sign of complex and life-threatening diseases.

What kind of cough does a dog have?

Cough is a protective reflex that removes all irritating factors from the respiratory system, while when the glottis is closed, there is an increase in intra-chest pressure, followed by a sharp exhalation.

Reflex cough in a dog is caused by the fact that foreign bodies or mucus irritates the vagus nerve located in the respiratory tract. From it, the signal goes to the cough center, which provokes a cough. Thus, the body is cleared of all excess that appears in the lungs, bronchi or larynx.

Wet and dry cough in dogs are distinguished by whether it is accompanied by the release of mucus or not. A wet cough is the result of acute inflammation, which provokes excessive mucus production and accumulation in the bronchi. With a dry cough, there is little sputum, and most often it accompanies a chronic disease.

Depending on how long the cough lasts in dogs, it is divided into rare, frequent or permanent.

Depending on the force with which the animal coughs, you can talk about a weak, strong, shallow or deep cough.

In some diseases, the cough is very painful, so the dog makes attempts to suppress it, so as not to hurt himself again.

Why does the dog cough?

Many diseases are the causes of coughing in dogs:

  • Ingestion of foreign objects in the respiratory system.
  • Infections transmitted from other dogs.
  • Problems with the lungs and bronchi.
  • Filling the pleural area with liquid or air.
  • Diseases of the throat.
  • Infestation with worms.
  • Cancer of the disease.
  • Problems with gums and teeth.
  • Hereditary diseases.
  • Problems related to the structure of the muzzle.
  • Cardiovascular diseases.
  • Allergic reactions.

Only after identifying the causes of cough is the dog’s treatment tactics built and the duration of therapy determined.

The main types of cough in dogs and how to treat cough in dogs

Cough caused by viral diseases

Dogs can infect each other with infections. It is to such diseases refers to viral tracheobronchitis or “kennel cough”. From the second name it is clear that this disease often affects animals that live crowded in the nursery and are infected from each other.

The main pathogens of viral tracheobronchitis are:

  • Mycoplasma;
  • Bordetella bronchiseptica;
  • pseudomonads;
  • Klebsiella pneumonia.

When infected with tracheobronchitis, the dog has a cough as if it choked. It is deep, dry, very frequent and very exhausting for the dog. Some animals sneeze, snort, vomit, may regurgitate white foam, and sometimes vomit. At the same time, the dog eats poorly, becomes sluggish, and if you look into his throat, you can see enlarged tonsils.

From the moment of contact with a sick animal to the appearance of the first cough in a dog, it takes from two days to two weeks, this depends on the immunity of the infected dog. The disease affects all breeds of dogs and animals of all ages.

Tracheobronchitis usually occurs in a mild form and the dog recovers in two to three weeks, but in some cases complications may occur in the form of pneumonia. If the dog has been coughing for a long time and the cough becomes more severe, shortness of breath appears, mucus with blood is coughed up, then it is necessary to urgently go to the veterinarian to prevent serious consequences.

In breeds that have a narrowed trachea, coughing can last more than three weeks, so in this case it is better to be safe and consult a veterinarian to rule out a complication.

How to treat a cough in a dog with tracheobronchitis?

If the course of the disease is light enough, then you need to give the dog’s immunity a chance to cope with the infection itself. If the animal is in poor health, it is necessary to use not only antitussive medications that relieve the condition, but also add expectorants that prevent the stagnation of mucus in the bronchi. In severe cases, antibiotic therapy is used.

What else should I do if the dog coughs as if it has choked? The animal needs a lot of rest, its diet should be varied and enriched with vitamins. It is desirable that the air in the house where the sick dog is located is warm and humidified.

Diseases of the respiratory system

Bronchitis and pneumonia are most often complications after infectious diseases, but they can also occur as independent diseases.

Have you noticed that the dog has a wet cough, and there are gurgling sounds behind the sternum? See a doctor immediately, as these are symptoms that often indicate the development of pneumonia. In addition, the dog becomes lethargic, not eating and drinking, he’s choking, it raises the temperature.

In the dog’s body there are always pathogenic and conditionally pathogenic microorganisms, which under certain conditions — hypothermia of the dog, reduced immunity, stress, can cause the onset of pneumonia. Pathogenic fungi can also cause pneumonia, which is long and difficult to treat.

The most difficult case is that in which aspiration pneumonia occurs when a dog inhalation of chemicals or if aspirated into the lungs of gastric juice or food. The latter can occur if the anesthesia is incorrectly performed. This type of pneumonia is a very dangerous condition, and veterinary care should be provided immediately.

How to treat cough in dogs with pneumonia?

If bacterial pneumonia is diagnosed, the dog is prescribed a course of broad-spectrum antibiotics. Rest, a therapeutic diet, and multivitamins are also recommended.


It is much more difficult to deal with fungal pneumonia, since first of all it is necessary to isolate the pathogen of the disease, and only then prescribe a drug that affects this particular strain of fungi. At the moment, fungal pneumonia is most successfully treated with inhalation, in which the drug gets directly into the lungs.

Ingestion of a foreign object in the respiratory system

Have you noticed that during a walk or eating your pet suddenly there was a cough, and he began to choke, burping and licking their lips often. It is likely that the dog choked on a foreign object and is now coughing. Often the cough is paroxysmal and is accompanied by vomiting and suffocation.

If the dog choked, you need to examine its mouth. If you notice a foreign body is shallow, you can try to pull it out yourself with tweezers, and in case of failure, immediately take the animal to the vet. Prolonged presence of a foreign object in the dog’s throat can cause the development of angina in the dog.

Sore throat (tonsillitis) in dogs

In dogs, there are outgrowths of lymphoid tissue in the throat — the tonsils, which can become inflamed. Inflammation of the tonsils may occur due to:

  • getting an infection in the animal’s body;
  • long-term runny nose;
  • a foreign object in the dog’s throat;
  • constant vomiting;
  • prolonged cough caused by a viral infection;
  • infections in the oral cavity.

With angina, it is difficult for dogs to swallow, so they do not eat, do not drink water, and throat irritation causes frequent coughing.

Treatment of cough in dogs caused by angina begins with determining the cause of inflammation of the tonsils. In a choked animal, a foreign object is removed from the mouth and antibiotics are prescribed to prevent infection. Inflammation in the mouth is treated with antiseptics and Tartar is removed in the veterinary clinic.

With the infectious nature of tonsillitis, the necessary medications are selected.

In the most severe cases, they resort to removing the tonsils, but this is extremely rare, since they are involved in the formation of immunity.

Cardiovascular diseases

Many canine heart diseases at the very beginning make themselves felt by a cough, which is called a heart attack. At the same time, the dog does not eat, suffocates, becomes weak, lethargic, and the mucous membranes in the mouth turn blue. It is especially difficult for such animals in hot and humid weather.

Treatment of dogs with cardiovascular diseases includes medications that support the activity of the heart and respiration, diuretics. Sometimes surgical operations are performed, but this is a very expensive and difficult event.

The presence of endoparasites

Mosquitoes and mosquitoes carry the larvae of Dirofilaria immitis parasites and transmit them to dogs, humans, foxes, etc. when bitten. After that, the worms develop in the pulmonary arteries, from which they enter the heart bag and provoke a heart disease called dirofilariosis, the symptoms are described here.

Coughing in dogs caused by parasites in the heart is treated with special medications, some of which contain arsenic compounds, so treatment should be under the strict supervision of a veterinarian.

Congenital or acquired defects

Tracheal collapse is a disease in which, as a result of congenital or acquired malformations, the tracheal rings are degraded. With this course of the disease, the dog periodically has a cough resembling the quacking of a goose, it is in a state of apathy, when eating and drinking, it has vomiting.

In the initial stage, the collapse of the trachea in dogs lends itself well to therapeutic treatment, while a good effect is given by drugs designed to restore cartilage tissue. They are usually recommended for the treatment of large joints, but practice has shown that they are good at stopping the degeneration of the tracheal rings.

In the absence of the effect of drug therapy and an increasing cough, veterinarians recommend performing surgery, during which the trachea implants will be replaced with rings that no longer perform their function.

Reverse sneezing

For dogs of small breeds with a short nose, the so-called “reverse sneezing” is characteristic. In this process, the dog makes a strange sound that combines quacking, sneezing and coughing at the same time.

Her pose resembles that of an asthma attack: her front paws are spread, her neck is stretched forward, and her eyes are bulging, so the owners think that their pet is about to suffocate. A severe, convulsive cough can cause vomiting, which, in turn, due to air being drawn in, can cause aspiration pneumonia.

Reverse sneezing occurs under the influence of some irritating factors: stress, temperature changes, the presence of allergens and occurs due to a spasm of the pharynx and soft palate.

This condition is not treated in any way, it is important just to find the cause that causes reverse sneezing and try to exclude it.

By clarifying the cause of the cough and conducting adequate treatment of the dog, you will return to your pet the joy of life, cheerfulness and good mood.