Canine and Cough

"Canine and cough is a problem that refers to irritation in a dogs lungs, throat or airways. Problems refer to the part of the lungs that carries air, the trachea or windpipe, and branches off of the lungs called bronchi. When the cough occurs and the sound of the canine cough such as a snort or wet and raspy sound, can indicate its underlying cause as indicated below. Possible causes include allergy, infection, heart disease and parasites. Dog cough treatment depends on the underlying cause and usually involves a cough suppressant, treatment for bacterial infection with antibiotics or steroids, as in the case of allergy. Be sure to consult with a veterinarian if cough lasts greater than 24 hours"

Canine and cough occurs when a dog’s throat, airway or lungs are irritated. There are so many causes of a cough that it is tricky to determine its exact cause. The range of causes includes irritation in the branches of the lungs (trachea or windpipe) to heart disease (associated with heart rhythm issues).

The causes of the cough also varies by breed, age and size of your dog.

Dog Respiratory System Diagram

canine and cough
Diagram of Dog Mouth

canine and cough
Diagram of Dog Chest

The pictures in this section are reprinted with permission by the copyright owner, Hill's Pet Nutrition, from the Atlas of Veterinary Clinical Anatomy. These illustrations should not be downloaded, printed or copied except for personal, non-commercial use.

Initial Diagnosis Dog Cough Based on Symptoms

Causes of Canine and Cough Based on Age

A dogs age and the prevalence of a cough in certain breeds can also indicate possible cause.

Causes of Canine Cough Based on Breed

Underlying Causes of Canine Cough by Disease

Cough as Symptom of Canine Tuberculosis

The symptom of canine tuberculosis is moist and labored breathing in addition to cough. Dogs tend to contract the disease through inhalation. Canine Tuberculosis can spread from humans. It is difficult to diagnose and is often not treated. Diagnosis is based on a combination of tests including x-rays (check lungs), blood tests (white cell count) and an assessment of overall health. Many strains are anti-biotic resistant.

Canine and Cough Parasites

Infections and Dog Cough:

Canine and Cough and Allergies

Like humans, canine and cough can develop as an allergic cough to pollen, dust, mold, smoke and insect bites.

These can be life long conditions and there is no cure. If you can't remove the allergen from the dog's environment, immunitherapy (allergy shots) can be used. In this approach, the dog is injected with small and overtime increasing dosages of the allergen in order to improve tolerance.

Immunitherapy works for approximately 75% of dogs.

Heart Disease and Cough

To diagnose heart disease your Veterinarian will do an electrocardiogram, a heart ultrasound to see inside the heart. Your dog's veterinarian will look for an enlargement of the heart, a condition that places pressure on the airways, causing the cough. The pressure may result in heart failure or a condition called lung edema.

Canine Lung Cancer and Cough

Lung cancer in dogs is usually secondary in nature, where cancer cells are carried from another part of the body which has cancer to the lungs. Treatment involves medications which target this type of cancer. Surgery is also used to remove any tumors that are found in the lungs.

Treatment for Canine and Cough

Treatment for cough in dogs depends on the underlying cause. Medications and suppress coughs, and antibiotics for infection are used. Steroids are used for allergy.

While the underlying cause for a cough is being investigated, natural remedies can be used to reduce the severity of a cough and to strengthen the immune system of the dog. Products like KC-Defense can be used to calm the throat and chest and help speed the relief from symptoms such as a dry cough or hacking cough. Other remedies such as Immunity and Liver Tonic help to improve immune system health. These are not cures, but can provide some relief.

Other home remedies for dog cough include:

Replacing a leash with a harness: If a dog is too eager, the leash collar can place pressure on the larynx, which can cause a cough.

Use a Cough Suppressant: Ask your veterinarian about a cough suppressant that contains dextromethorphan such as Robitussin Maximum Strength Cough Syrup. Do not purchase products which contain other ingredients such as aspirin or acetaminophen. Check with your veterinarian for dose.

Use an Antihistamine: The ingredient diphenhydramine (Benadryl) might bring some relief to dogs. Check with your veterinarian for the dose which is usually 1 milligram per pound of your dog (weight).

Use Honey for dog cough: Providing a tablespoon of honey to your dog, every 3 to 5 hours, can soothe the throat and eventually help put a stop to cough caused by irritation.


Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine


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