A common question asked by many patients includes: “My dog started coughing. What does it mean?” Coughing can have many causes in pets from inhalant dust/irritants/allergens to more complex medical issues. Acute coughing can sometimes be due to bacterial or viral infections such as with kennel cough complex in dogs, especially if there is recent history of exposure to other dogs at a dog park, grooming or boarding facility, then kennel cough is certainly on our “rule out” list.
Other dogs may cough because of:
- Anatomic problems of their airways such as a narrowed windpipe known as a collapsing trachea.
- Allergic/inflammatory airway disease (known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).
- Parasites like roundworms or heartworms, which is why it’s important to have periodic stool checks and heartworm blood tests at your veterinarian’s office.
Other diseases like various heart diseases, inflammations or infections of the chest cavity as well as even cancer in the lungs can all present with coughing as a symptom.
If a cough is mild and/or short lived, an animal guardian can always try boosting the immune system with supplements like Vetri-DMG liquid or Vitamin C. Antihistamines like Chlorphenirimine or Benadryl can help if cough is allergic based. However, if the cough is severe, chronic, or persistent then a full workup and exam at the local veterinarian is recommended to determine the specific cause and best course of treatment.