Why is My Dog Coughing?

A coughing dog can be alarming to any dog owner. Of course, our dogs are our kids, but dogs don’t catch colds or strep throat as humans do. Or can they? Before going all helicopter mom or dad about your dog’s coughing, read on to find out what may be causing it and phone your veterinarian too as there are quite a few reasons as to why your dog is coughing.

If you’re wondering why is my dog coughing, here are four reasons why to help you solve the problem and get your dog the relief he needs…

why is my dog coughing?

Kennel Cough

Dogs actually can catch a cold, well an upper respiratory virus. In fact, it is pretty common for dogs that are around other dogs frequently, like doggy-daycare.In the veterinary world, we use the term Kennel Cough to describe this virus. 
Symptoms of kennel cough are more of what it is called. A dog may cough quite a bit and the cough is usually dry and sometimes sounds like something is stuck in the dog’s throat. Sometimes they cough so hard that phlegm or saliva is coughed up.
Kennel cough is a virus and will pass after a few days. But the coughing-causing virus is extremely contagious, so no doggy-daycare for a couple of weeks. Because kennel cough is so contagious, most veterinarians prefer to have a phone consult instead of bringing the dog into the clinic. Depending on the severity, a cough suppressant and sometimes antibiotics are prescribed. 
Keeping your dog up to date on the kennel cough vaccine (or Bordetella) can help protect them from the virus. Dogs that frequently go to facilities where there are other dogs should even have a booster every 6 months. 

Foreign Body

A dog will cough if they have something foreign stuck in their airway as well, such as a blade of grass, or worse, a bone. In this case, you will definitely want to contact your veterinarian. Keep a close on their breathing and gum color. If they start turning blue, it can turn into an emergency.

Collapsing Trachea

Coughing can be caused by trachea collapse in dogs as well. Collapsing trachea is when the trachea collapses, is narrowed, and not as strong. It is more common in small breeds and can worsen with age. You may notice this when pressure is placed under the neck by a leash or collar, or when a dog becomes too excited. 
A veterinarian will diagnose a collapsing trachea by performing an exam and applying mild pressure to the neck to see if the dog will cough. Radiographs of the neck into the chest can give an actual picture of where the trachea is narrowed or weak. Obesity can make a collapsing trachea much worse for the dog, so it is important to keep them at their ideal weight. A cough suppressant can help with the coughing if needed. 
why is my dog coughing

Heart Disease and Cancer

When an older dog starts having coughing fits, there is always a potential of heart disease or cancer in the lungs. Usually, these dogs will tire out easily and will have increased resting respiratory rates. In any case, a trip to see the veterinarian is a must along with some chest x-rays. X-rays are vital in diagnosing heart disease and lung cancer because it gives a visual of how big the heart is compared to the amount of space in the chest. If the heart is too enlarged, there isn’t much room for the lungs to move air, resulting in abnormal breathing and coughing. 
Be sure to always call your veterinarian with any questions concerning your dog’s health, along with giving a detailed history of how they spend their time, age, and when the coughing started.

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