Causes and Treatment of Canine Cough

Table of Contents

Overview | Diagnosis | Natural Remedies | Q&A


"Symptoms such as a canine cough are not as common in dogs as you might think. Minor causes include getting excited or when a hair gets into the throat. A cough can also be a warning sign of more chronic problems that require veterinary care including heart disease, asthma, pneumonia and bronchitis.

If the coughing persists for more than 24 hours see a veterinarian to get a specific diagnosis. since this indicates a problem that needs to be addressed by a health professional. In general, a cough is triggered by irritation in the lungs, airways and throat. A veterinarian may be able to suspect a possible cause based on the sound of the cough, frequency, when it occurs such as time of day or night, age and breed. Problems such as kennel cough or dog bronchitis are caused by infection.

Treatment involves the use of specific medications such as cough suppressants, antibiotics for bacterial causes and steroids for allergy."


A dog cough occurs when a dog's throat, airway or lungs are irritated. It is a way for your dog to protect itself against something that may cause your pet harm by expelling foreign particles out of the bronchi and trachea. 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. These include:

Keeping a diary when your pet coughs is helpful. Did it happen at mealtime, level of activity, certain times of the day or night, out or indoors all provide clues for diagnosis. Time the length of coughing if several happen in a row and then stops.

Be sure to take your dog to the veterinarian if dog cough symptoms such as problems breathing, the gums look off color (dog gums should look the same color as human gums), or if a dog is lethargic (weak), the cough is moist and if mucus is present, or if the condition is not getting better.

Diagnosis of Dog Cough

Part of the canine and cough diagnosis is to match the nature of the cough with common ailments. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Dog Night Time Cough
    Coughing at rest is associated with heart problems (sometimes failure), trachea issues and lung problems.

  • Dog Cough when excited
    Collapse or irritation of the trachea (branches of the lungs)

  • Dog Cough when drinking water
    Collapse or irritation of the trachea, also called Kennel Cough or tracheabronchitis. Kennel cough is the most common cause of laryngitis in dogs. A dog may have laryngitis and a coughing condition for years occurring when your dog pulls on its leash or other activity.

  • Cough During or after eating
    Larynx or esophagus disease. The larynx prevents food from entering the trachea. If the larynx doesn't close food enters causing disease.

  • Dog Cough when outdoors
    If the dog continually breathes in things that are naturally outdoors such as leaves or grass, it could cause a lung infection or pyothorax.

  • Cough in Overweight Small Dog
    Caused by tracheal collapse (sounds like a goose when coughing).

Canine Cough Medicine varies based on the type of diagnosis. It ranges from cough suppressants to prescription drugs. Veterinarian's have many options for treatment including cough medicine, cough suppressant, antibiotics (bacterial infection) and allergy medications (steroids).

Tests for Canine Cough

Tests of the blood, stool and x-rays of the chest and trachea are all common diagnostic approaches. To check the airways, a bronchoscope is used.

Canine Cough Diagnosis
Canine cough and clinical symptoms such as weight loss and chronic food regurgitation were shown in medium sized dog. A thorax barium-contrast radiography (shown here) shows megaesophagus, which is a condition where there is an abnormal enlargement of the lower portion of the esophagus.

Canine Cough Home Remedies

Natural remedies are formulated to support the body's ability to fight disease. Products such as KC-Defense Formula are formulated to naturally treat and immunize your dog against causes of cough in dogs such as acute kennel cough and other respiratory infections. The manufacturer of this particular product provides clinical studies that support the ingredient selection.

When first treating a mild dog cough, consider adding a vitamin supplement to the dogs diet. Try a vitamin c (5-10 mg/pound, 2x to 3x/day) and a vitamin e (3 - 5 mg/lb, 1x per day) supplement.

Further Reading:

Hamilton, Don DVM
Homeopathic Care for Dogs & Cats

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