PetMeds®: Respiratory Emergencies (Wheezing or Coughing) in Dogs

Checking your pet's gums color can help determine the severity of the respiratory problem Many dogs are often presented to the veterinarian for various respiratory symptoms ranging from the common kennel cough, signs of increased yellow or green eye or nasal discharge, as well as varying degrees or coughing or wheezing. The cough can vary from sounding like a goose honking, which is most typical of either kennel cough or an anatomic or inflammatory problem of the airways, such as the collapsing trachea syndrome seen in toy breeds like Pomeranians or Yorkshire Terriers.

Or the cough can be from an allergic/inflammatory condition such as chronic allergic airway disease or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) to more moist/wet coughs seen in many cases of pneumonia or heart failure secondary to mitral valve disease or a heart disease called cardiomyopathy. If a pet is still active, eating, and has pink gums and tongue, than it is likely not an emergency. However, if a dog has difficulty breathing, is wheezing, or has an accelerated rate of breathing (during rest) and shows bluer gums/tongue, than immediate emergency veterinary evaluation and care is required so that a proper diagnosis and treatment plan is started.

Some of these more severely affected pets may need oxygen initially to stabilize them, before x-rays, blood work, and a more thorough complete respiratory or cardiac workup is undertaken.    That is why it is great to have natural calming agents on hand to give before and on way to vet such as Be Serene by 1800PetMeds, Composure Liquid, or sometimes rescue remedy from health food store to help ease the anxiety and stress the pet is clearly under, until the pet can be evaluated by a veterinarian.

With common and seemingly uncomplicated kennel cough signs, without difficulty or heavy breathing, and as long as the pet is eating and otherwise happy, animal guardians can try immune boosting herbs like echinacea and goldenseal from the health food store, as well as the herb elderberry if an acute infection is suspected.

Extra vitamin C in the form of Ester-C, as well as Vetri-DMG from 1800PetMeds to boost the immune system can also be used right alongside these herbs in simple infectious coughs. If the cough worsens or pet goes off feed, however, a full vet exam is needed and likely antibiotic therapy required, especially with the recent recognition and potential severity of the new canine influenza virus, now being reported in various states across the nation.

If your pet is diagnosed with a chronic inflammatory respiratory ailment or collapsing trachea, sometimes prescriptions for drugs like Theophylline and Temaril-P are needed on a long term basis and can be purchased from 1800PetMeds with a written prescription from your veterinarian.

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  2. Hi: My german shepard is outdoors alot during the day and inside at night; most evenings and early mornings she will begin wheezing for 1 or up to 3 minutes (what I call an inner sneezing…..Is this due to allergies while romping in the woods?? She is a year old and has had all her shots and spade;bloodwork was also performed and all came back negative. Any ideas on what the cause is and also what I might do to help her through the night???

  3. Is there something I can give her to help relieve the wheezing??/

    • Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianOctober 14, 2010 at 11:12 pm · Reply

      First should have a diagnosis of why wheezing. If allergies antihistamines and/or low dose cortisone can be helpful. IF infections, antibiotics needed. If due to airway anatomic issue, than meds to dilate airways like theophylline can help., Vet check is needed to sort these out.

  4. My kitten is very sick it started with a cold and now has tun into infection.she is coughing and mucus is comming out her nose and mouth.I dont have any money,is their something you can reccomend for me Please . Sincerly TriciaBeals

    • Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianDecember 10, 2010 at 8:28 pm · Reply

      Best of course to take to vet. You can try immune boosters like DMG liquid from 1800petmeds. Also from local health food store vitamin C in form of ester C at dose of 250 mg twice daily as well as pediatric echinacea and goldenseal. Use infant dose. Also consider transfer factor as supplement from Putting her in steamy bathroom a few times daily for 10 minutes at a time can help loosen up secretions. Good luck. Not easy situation.

  5. Our 11 month old poodle chihuahua terrier mix got into wild rhubarb plant burrs, stuck onto her feet, she attempted to bite them off, I believe. This was approx. 1-2 weeks ago. She has since developed a cough/wheeze when excited. Any correlation? Anything we should do for her?

    • Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianNovember 12, 2012 at 6:49 pm · Reply

      I dont think the cough/wheeze has anything to do with burrs. If symptoms persist, see vet for exam and evaqluation.

  6. My elderly beagle is coughing and it is productive of thick white phlem. This occurs at rest or with activity. Any ideas what this could be? I notice mild dysnea at times with occasional wheezing.

    • Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJuly 27, 2013 at 11:09 pm · Reply

      Hi Betty. Could be inhalent/allergic airway disease like collapsing trachea, COPD, as well as parasites like heartworms. In this breed leaky mitral valves may also cause the coughing. Full vet exam and chest x rays, etc are needed here for proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

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  8. We adopted a 3 month old rotti last week and was told he had an upper respitory infection and had been on antibiotics for 14 days. When he brought him home, he was still playful, eating, and rarely coughing but still had a runny nose and was slightly lethargic. The day after we brought him to the vet, he started to become worse. He is wheezing non-stop, very lethargic, and has discharge coming out of his nose. The vet gave us an antibiotic and told us not tow worry since he is still eating. Today (2 days after the first vet visit) he has taken 3 antibiotics and is wheezing more than ever, sounds like he has stuff in his chest, and is no longer eating. We called the vet and he said to give the antibiotics time to work. I am very concerned. Should I just keep waiting?

    • Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianFebruary 16, 2015 at 4:02 pm · Reply

      Best to have proper recheck exam and evaluation, as may need different antibiotic, and possibly checked for pneumonia with chest x rays.

  9. My pomeranian has a coughing, weezing and sneezing and he also has bad breath. Can I give him anything over the counter. Or should he go see a vet. He has had this for a couple of months now.

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