PetMeds® Why is My Dog Coughing?

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.

Comments

  1. CHRISTINA says

    Hello, i am having issues about my FULL BLOODED RED NOSE PIT BULL he will be 3 years old 8/24. He has had this cough for about a month now. We started him on AMOXICILLIN 250 MG x’s 2 daily. The cough lifted a little BUT is still there & also now he is hacking with his cough. He is eating fairly good but we have 2 make something special 4 him (he will not eat his dog food) & he is drinking some what (NOT MUCH) of water intake not even his PEDIATRIC & he has NO at all ENERGY. Can any-1 out there help me in anyway. We also have 2 other dogs & 3 cats & NOT any of them have this. PLEASE HELP US IN ANYWAY OUR PETS R REALLY OUR CHILDREN…. Thank u so much THE FLANAGAN FAMILY

    • Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian says

      Many possibilities from resistant infection to hidden parasites. Best to take him to vet for exam and x rays to help sort out. Also heartworm test and stool analysis for parasites recommended. Perhaps a different antibiotic is needed.

      • CHRISTINA says

        O.M.G.SIR, I want 2 Thank you so so much 4 the reply BUT, I need 2 inform u that I am Disabled & my income is only $714.00 & I have all the bills 2 pay. So therefore I do not have an extra so that is WHY I was trying 2 self treat. Can maybe u help me with a little more information, I noticed today that his cough is more quitier BUT behind the coughing he is hacking & it seems like he has something that he might be trying 2 hack up something cought in his throat??? & u had said maybe a change of ANTIBIOTIC what do u suggest. I have AZITHROOMYCIN 250 MG take 2 the 1st day & then 1 4 day days until. Would those be better..??? ANY HELP THE FLANAGANS

        • Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian says

          Azithromycin is an excellent antibiotic that is often quite helpful for infectious coughs. I cant recommend it officially however unless he has been examined by a vet, but if you have no choice you could try it. I dont think something in his throat. If no response to the antibiotic nothing more I can suggest.

  2. Dawn says

    I have a 5 year old boxer. She started having a deep cough today. It has been cold here the past couple weeks and she stays outside during the day while I’m at work. Also i gave her a ham bone from a slice of country ham yesterday. Don’t know if either of these could be a factor. The cough sounds like it is in her chest. Should i take her to the vet soon or wait to see if itgets better in a couple days?

    • Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian says

      Coughs like this can have multiple causes in this breed from infections to foreign body ingestion, to allergic/inflammatory airway disease, to even heart disease. Best to have vet exam to sort out causes and best treatment plan.

  3. connie says

    i have a 12 year old chiachuca, that just developed a cough about a week ago, she can just be laying around and starts to cough or other times our 8month puppy is chasing her and then she starts coughing again. What could be the cause of this cough, should i take her to the vet?

    • Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian says

      There are many possible causes of coughing in 12 year old dogs from heart valve disease, heartworms, etc to respiratory issues such as infections, collapsing trachea, allergic airway disease, etc. Best to take to vet for exam and diagnostic testing to sort these out and best treatment plan.

  4. Vicki says

    We have a ten year old Pom that has started coughing. She coughs like she is trying to cough something up and it seems like she has because she stops. Could certain turkey jerky be the cause? She does not do it for long period. Just randomly. She is still active. Been on heart guard and healthy. Any suggestions?

    • Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian says

      I dont think Turkey Jerky involved. At this age alot of possibilities from mild collapsing trachea to parasites to allergic/inflammatory airway disease. IF signs persist or worsen, see vet for exam and possibly x rays to sort out possible causes.

  5. Sue says

    Our 6 year old chihuahua is coughing, but it sounds like it has fluid with it. He had what is described as kennel cough last week but it went away and now his nose is kind of runny and the cough sounds wet. Any ideas, can’t get to vet until Monday.

    • Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian says

      Could still be kennel cough infection or allergic inflammatory airway disease. Less likely heart disease. Best to see vet for exam and evaluation to sort these out

  6. ronda arndell says

    My dog won’t really start coughing until he goes outside and does sneeze a lot. He is a year old Miniature dachshund. What can I do for him? Thank you

    • Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian says

      Could be allergies. you could try antihistamine like chlorphenirimine at dose of 2 mg twice daily and DMG liquid from 1800petmeds. If signs persist or worsen, see vet for exam and diagnosis.

  7. Terry says

    I have a 6-year old mixed breed, male dog. He was recently diagnosed with diabetes and is currently on insulin 2x a day and change of diet. I’ve noticed he has started having a cough. Is this something that goes along with diabetes? It happens at random times and when he is at rest or play.

    • Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian says

      The cough has nothing to do with the diabetes. If cough persists or worsens, have full veterinary exam and evaluation to sort out underlying causes.

  8. Katherine says

    My dog started coughing like she wants to hack up something but nothing does on her afternoon walk today. Its persisting a half an hour later. Usually it doesn’t persist this long. Now she does have a HM. Could that be anything related to this?

  9. Anna says

    Help! My 10 month old lab/something mix has been coughing all night long. It’s like a hacking sound. She has been experiencing some watering and discharge in her eyes. It is a pretty bad pollen season. We have tried patting her back to see if something will come up. We have given her plenty of water to maybe wash it down. We also tried giving her some organic honey and a benadryl… which helped for a couple hours but that’s it. I don’t know what to do! She isn’t lethargic or sounding like she is having trouble breathing.

    • Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian says

      She could have parasite or infection at this age. Best to have vet exam and evaluation as may need antibiotics, etc

    • Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian says

      Many possibilities from infection, parasites, allergies to heart issue. Best to have vet exam and evaluation for proper diagnosis.

  10. Terri Valcoure says

    I have a six year old German shorthair pointer. I just returned home,from a week away, to find that he seems to be trying to cough something up. It is sporadic and coming from the throat area, not from the chest. He is eating and drinking just fine. My husband, who stayed home with the pets,
    said it has been going on for two days. I know he was probably stressed to have me gone for the first time in his life, but hearing him, I know that’s not it. If it does not lessen up today I will take him to the vet. He is on heartworm medication year round. If he goes to the vet I will post what the vet has to say about him. Maybe that answer will be helpful to others.
    Signed…Rowdys Mom

    • Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian says

      Many possibilities from viral/Bacterial infections to allergic inflammatory airway disease, as well as other issues. If persists, exam, x rays and blood work recommended.

    • Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian says

      Could be viral or bacterial infection or possibly some sort of allergic/inflammatory airway issue. Best to have vet check with possible x rays if needed.

  11. Mark says

    I have a female Staffy who is nearly 15. She has recently started to ‘reach’ for no apparent reason, quite often when she has been asleep she will just wake up and cough/reach as if she has something stuck in her throat. She also does the same thing if I take her for a walk……. as soon as we get outside with the lead on she seems to choke and cough for the first 3-400 yards and then she’ll stop. Is this normal behaviour?
    Thanks, Mark

    • Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian says

      Given her age Mark probably best to have vet check and exam/x rays to make sure no chronic lung or heart issues developing. A blood test for heartworms is also recommended.

  12. Mark says

    continued…..
    I will add that her appetite is fine, she is fed twice a day with James Wellbeloved complete dog food which is a good food. She has no problem going to the toilet and there is no change in her stools. She does seem to have lost an inch or two round the neck area lately but I put that down to her age.
    Thanks, Mark

  13. Daniel Nix says

    I have a 1 year old, 4 lb Pomeranian whose coughs sound like the “AFLACK” duck. She coughs when excited or with play exertion, sometimes when eating, and it wakes me and her up when sleeping. Vet took stool & blood. Diagnosed small windpipe. Prescribed LOMOTIL (Diphenoxylate Hydrochloride-Atropine Sulfate) 2.5/5ml Susp. 60 ml bottle. Dosage 1ml X 2.
    Also gave Hydrocon liquid 0.1ml X 2. I was told she had to take the LOMOTIL for her entire life.
    “AFLACK” cough continues after 2 months. Any suggestions?

    • Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian says

      If she has a collapsing trachea, may need low dose cortisone therapy such as that found in prescription medicine temaril P. I have not found lomotil helpful for this. Also can ask vet about prescription medicine known as theophylline

  14. Heidi says

    I am needing to get the medication call…Lomotil.
    I do not see it possible to get on this website.
    Can someone help me as to where I can purchase this medication.
    Thanik you kindly,
    Heidi

  15. says

    My 4 month old pup has been having a cough for approx. 1 and a half months, he’s been on differant antibiotics, but no cure, the vet said his heart seems fine, but he heard wheezing, he jumps, runs, he’s eating and drinking. Sometimes when he’s playing actively he’ill cough, it sometimes sounds like he’s trying to clear his throat ,what could it possibly be from, and if he needs tests, what tests should he have done, Thank you, Jeanette

    • Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian says

      Many possibilities but may need tracheal wash under sedation for proper diagnosis and treatment. A trial with different antibiotic like azithromycin or doxycycline may be worthy to consider esp given length of cough. I have also found temaril p helpful from 1800petmeds.

  16. says

    My pugerain started coughing today on our walk as soon as he walks out our door ,he has done this on all our walks today ,it’s very humid and about 90 degrees today .

  17. says

    My pugerain is coughing today just on all of our walk as soon as we walk out of our door ,it’s 90 degrees and very humid today in the house in the AC he isn’t coughing..

    • Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian says

      Could be allergic cough, or possibly secondary infection. If symptoms persist, then I would recommend vet exam and evaluation,a s amy need antibiotic or allergy meds.

  18. Kannee says

    My 12 year old yorkie has developed trachea problems that causes her to constantly cough and gag. The vet is aware of her problem but says that surgery may or may not correct the problem.
    Is there a over the counter medication available to give her some relief.
    She is 12 years old, has an enlarged heart, arthritis in her back as well as the trachea condition.
    Please help !

    • Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian says

      I would ask vet about prescription drugs like temaril p which I find excellent for tracheal coughs in yorkies. Also meds to dilate airways like theophylline, as well as cough suppressants like hydrocodone are also quite helpful in these cases.

  19. Tricia says

    I have a 6 year old male boxer. He started coughing a little Sunday evening after waking up and produced some white foam. He did this a few time yesterday as well, but had some blood accompany the foam. Today he is still coughing some but no foam and only a little bit of blood “squirts”….kind of like if someone sneezes and doesn’t cover their mouth. Do you think he ate something? My mom watched him Sunday for us and yesterday said she “saw foil” in the foam. My dog is acting fine and there is no foam now. Just a random cough. Suggestions??

    • Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian says

      Coughing can have many causes from acute viral/bacterial infections to inflammatory/allergic airway disease, collapsing trachea, and in this breed heartworm disease or heart disease. Best to have vet exam and evaluation to sort all this out

  20. Barara Deck says

    I have a eight year old Yorkie who has developed a breathing problem. She doesn’t cough but breathes with a raspy sound which ioncreases if she gets the least bit excited.
    She is on diphenoxylatew/atropine 3x a day, Prednisone 5 mg 1/2 tab every other day and aminophylne/theophyllne100MG 1/2 tab eery other day. She has shown some improvement but not a lot.
    Today I had to refill the diphenoxylate and the price had increased from $69.00 to $147.00 for 100 tabs. I live on a SS check and this is way out of my budget –is there an altenative treatment more affordable?

    • Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian says

      I would recommend a vet recheck as sounds like a lot of meds to me. Ask about a drug called temaril P which can often help in this type of situation. Sounds like you may be seeing reverse sneezing, which you can look up on you tube.

  21. says

    Aw, this was an incredibly good post. Spending some time and
    actual effort to generate a superb article… but what can I say… I procrastinate a whole lot and never manage to get nearly anything done.

  22. Mary Millbranth says

    I am posting this in the hope that it may help someone with a similar situation. We have a 15 year old male dachshund that started coughing/hacking, like he had something in his throat, about 4-5 months ago but has been slowly getting worse as time passes. He has no trouble swallowing his food or meds so we didn’t think it was his throat and he never brought anything up so we didn’t think it was digestive. We did find though that he was much worse when he would lie down to sleep. As soon as the hacking started, he would get up out of his bed until the attack passed. It increased to the point where none of us got much sleep at night as it often recurred as soon as he would lie back down again. It finally reached the point where he could sleep for about an hour at most before it started again. He has multiple beds and none of them seemed to make a difference and though we also thought it might be an allergy, Benadryl did nothing. We didn’t think it was his heart, though we knew he had a severe murmur because it wasn’t related to activity. We had actually taken him to the vet for it but it would never occur while he was there so it was impossible for him to see the problem. I finally decided to video his attacks and emailed it to the vet. After watching this behavior, he decided that his enlarged heart was pushing on his trachea when he was lying down and that he was getting up out of bed to straighten his neck out so he could breathe. He gave him a steroid shot (which really didn’t seem to do anything) and added a heart medication, Vetmedin to the Benazepril he was already on. It has been 5 days since then and the results have been remarkable. For the first few days we saw no difference and were a bit discouraged but last night he didn’t cough or get up but once. I can’t tell you how this has changed all of our lives. If this sounds like the situation any of you are facing, you might want to run this by your vet and see if this could help.

    • Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian says

      Vetmedin is a wonderful drug, and should have been used earlier in the course of his disease. Glad to hear he is feeling better.

    • kaushlendra gaur says

      Dear,Marry,That”s sounds very nice to every pet lover that he is better.here i would like to know what is the status after five days.still going better and better. please reply Thanks

    • Shelly Kinnick says

      Thank you for your post and explanation of the symptoms.My 10 yr. old chihuahua/yorkie had exhibited similar problems regarding the breathing difficulties during the night and a new sounding cough/hacking over the last 3 days. We had already been under the vets care with a collapsed trachea and the cough that accompanies that diagnoses but the vet had said yesterday that Ema has an enlarged heart as well.So it has been one day since the Enalapril and Lasix were started with no change as of yet. Any more suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

  23. Libby says

    I have a 3 month old puppy that coughs when she gets excited or plays with my other dog. Sometimes she coughs for 10 mins straight. She went to the vet about 2 weeks ago for a check up and got her shots. Can dogs have asthma? Thanks

    • Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian says

      Dogs can have asthma, but rarely at this age. A bacterial or viral infection, as well as even immune suppression post vaccination may be involved here. BEst to see vet for exam and evaluation.

  24. kassidy nelms says

    Hi I have two three week old pups and they started couphing and wheezing what does that mean if you don’t mind answering

    • Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian says

      Usually indicates a viral and/or bacterial infection. A veterinary exam and evaluation is usually needed in puppies this age, as antibiotics probably called for.

  25. Faye says

    I took my 8 year old cocker in to have her teeth cleaned and blood work done and a fatty tumor removed on her side and she has been coughing since. It’s a very loud barky kind of cough and sometimes some deep wheezing. She had her kennel cough shot in August. She started out on amoxicillan since she had the fatty tumor removed and then I took her back 4 days later and she got a shot and temaril P. It has been a week since then and still no improvement. What should I do now? Thanks for your help

    • Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian says

      Sorry to be so late in responding to this. In my opinion and experience, kennel cough vaccination does NOT work and actually in my experience dogs develop more chronic coughs from this than the disease. As for treatments, I would use a quinolone antibiotic in this situation like baytril or doxycycline which cover the more clinically relevant bacterial causes of kennel cough. If a viral cause, then disease must run its course on its own over a few weeks.

  26. kathy says

    I’m surprised that you didn’t mention lung cancer as a possible cause of coughing. Our lab just died 10 days after her cough started. It was an infrequent cough and the vet thought it was acid reflux or copd. So we went to the vet hospital, did xrays and it was lung cancer. She died in the hospital while they were running tests. Yes, coughing could be a heart problem but it could also be lung cancer or tracheal paralysis.

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