Cough in a dog – causes and how to treat

Cough in a dog – causes and how to treat

Cough in a dog – causes and how to treat

If the dog coughs – the main thing

  1. Cough is a symptom of the underlying disease, which acts as a protective reflex to remove foreign particles from the surface of the respiratory system.

  2. Cough looks like a sharp forced exhalation when the

    glottisAnatomical part of the larynx.

  3. The type of cough depends on the underlying disease and its localization.

  4. The main causes of cough in dogs are: congenital pathologies of the upper respiratory tract (tracheal collapse,

    BCSBrachycephalic Obstructive Syndrome), infections of various origins (bacteria, viruses, helminths, fungi), heart failure and oncology.

  5. The main methods for diagnosing cough: examination by a veterinarian, X-ray diagnostics, blood tests, specific tests for pathogens, CT diagnostics, bronchoscopy with taking a washout from the lungs.

  6. Treatment of cough depends on the underlying disease and its type. Usually prescribed: antibiotics, mucolytics or antitussive drugs, bronchodilators, inhalations, glucocorticosteroids. In certain cases (collapse, BCS), surgical treatment is indicated.

  7. Prevention of cough comes down to annual vaccination, avoidance of hypothermia and passive smoking. Congenital pathologies cannot be prevented.

Cough in a dog - causes and how to treat

How does a dog cough?

Some people wonder – can dogs cough? Yes, a dog can cough. Visually, a cough looks like a sharp forced expiration with a closed glottis. It is a protective mechanism to remove secretions and foreign particles.

A cough is usually preceded by an inhalation followed by an exhalation. Often, in the process of a paroxysmal strong cough, the pet’s neck stretches and the body shudders.

Sometimes owners confuse cough with reverse sneezing syndrome. Reverse sneezing occurs when foreign particles enter the larynx and soft palate. It is possible that if you observe your pet coughing after eating, it is a reverse sneeze and not a cough. Reverse sneezing is a normal physiological process that does not require treatment if the syndrome rarely recurs. If a reverse sneeze doesn’t go away within a few days, your pet should see a veterinarian.

Cough in a dog - causes and how to treat

Types of cough in dogs

In order to understand and understand the types of cough, you need to remember what the respiratory system consists of. After all, the nature and type of the disease directly depends on where the cough reflex starts.

The respiratory system is divided into the upper respiratory tract (nasal cavity, larynx, part of the pharynx, trachea) and lower respiratory tract (bronchi and lungs).

Cough receptorsA group of nerve endings that perceive extraneous stimuli and convert them into a nerve impulse, upon stimulation of which a nerve impulse is generated that transmits information to the brain, are located in the larynx, trachea and large bronchi.

Cough is described as follows:

  • By productivity;

  • By frequency;

  • In-natura;

  • With the flow.

Productivity means sputum production. Unproductive cough in a dog is dry, without discharge. A productive cough in a dog is wet, with sputum.

The frequency of cough is rare, periodic, frequent.

By nature – short, long, paroxysmal.

Downstream – acute, subacute, chronic.

Cough in a dog - causes and how to treat

Why a dog coughs – 9 reasons

There can be many reasons. We will look at the most basic ones:

  1. Pathologies of the upper respiratory tract due to a violation of the anatomical structure of organs – tracheal collapse, BCS;

  2. Infections – bacterial, viral, helminthic, fungal;

  3. Cardiac cough due to heart failure;

  4. oncological process.

Collapse of the trachea

A common cause of cough in small breeds (York, Chihuahua, Pug) is the collapse of the trachea. Tracheal collapse is a narrowing of the tracheal tube in any part of it. The tracheal tube is made up of tracheal rings. During the collapse, part of the rings sags, forming a narrowing, which reduces the air permeability. Cough develops due to the fact that the tracheal rings rub against each other during narrowing and irritate the cough receptors.

Cough during collapse of the trachea may be on the background of emotional arousal, pulling on the leash and squeezing the collar of the trachea, due to the ingress of cold air. Also, the pet may begin to cough when drinking water. It can be both a short dry cough and paroxysmal. Sometimes owners compare such a cough with a goose cackle – this is a characteristic sign of a collapsed trachea.

Severe collapse may require surgical treatment.

Cough in a dog - causes and how to treat

BCS syndrome

BCS – a shortened facial part of the skull, which creates an obstacle to the inhaled air. This syndrome occurs in French and English Bulldogs, Pugs, Griffons, Shih Tzu, Pekingese, Boston Terriers, Spitz, Chihuahuas, Boxers.

It all starts harmlessly with narrowed nostrils, but in the future everything can end

bronchial collapseNarrowing of the lumen of the bronchi. The collapse of the bronchi is dangerous because the lung tissue ceases to function normally, and the animal suffocates from lack of oxygen.

Such patients make grunting sounds, cough heavily. Often, owners note bluish mucous membranes of the oral cavity.

Unfortunately, there is no effective medical treatment, and often it is necessary to resort to surgical treatment.

Infezzjonijiet batteriċi

Bacteria, just like in humans, can cause

trakeiteInflammation of the trachea, bronkiteInflammation of the bronchi и bronkopnewmonjaPnewmonja in dogs. The main symptom of these diseases is cough. The most common pathogens are bacteria – staphylococci and streptococci.

A dog with a bacterial infection often coughs, sometimes even to the point of gagging. The gag reflex occurs with a strong cough, when the whole body shudders, and the vomiting receptors are irritated.

With bronchopneumonia, the pet coughs to hoarseness, the body temperature rises. The disease is accompanied by lethargy, apathy, heavy breathing and sputum production.

Cough in a dog - causes and how to treat

Infezzjonijiet virali

Many viral infections can also affect the respiratory system and cause coughing. The most common infections are: canine adenovirus type 2, canine respiratory coronavirus, canine influenza virus, canine herpesvirus, canine pneumovirus, canine parainfluenza virus. From some infections, you can protect the animal by complex vaccination against viral infections.

The cough begins acutely, with or without sneezing, and is also accompanied by mucous discharge from the nasal cavity. The nature of the cough is usually strong, paroxysmal. The dog cannot cough. With severe attacks, the pet coughs as if choking. There may also be a cough with a gag reflex. The state of the animal is accompanied by lethargy, apathy and often an increase in body temperature.

Helminth invasion


helminth infestationsParasitic disease caused by parasitic worms may also be accompanied by coughing. This is due to the fact that when helminth eggs enter the intestine, the development of larval stages passes through the respiratory system, then goes back into the digestive tract. The pet seems to be spitting up something and the larvae are swallowed again with saliva into the stomach and intestines. Most often, these are pathogens. hookwormHelminthiasis caused by parasitic hookworms, toxocarosisHelminth invasion caused by helminths from the group of nematodes.

In the southern regions of Russia, the disease is very common

dirofilariasisParasitic disease caused by Dirofilaria immitis. Recently, cases of infection have also been recorded in the central regions of Russia. This is a helminth infestation that is transmitted by mosquito bites. One infected mosquito is enough to infect an animal. The localization of helminths is the pulmonary artery, which departs from the right ventricle of the heart to the lungs. Sometimes helminths can be seen with echocardiography of the heartUltrasound of the heart. Taking into account the fact that parasites live in the vessels of the lungs, their vital activity causes serious harm to the bronchi and lungs.

A dog with dirofillariasis constantly coughs, its breathing becomes heavy, the animal refuses to exercise. This disease is not transmitted to humans.

Cough in a dog - causes and how to treat

Heart cough

It is associated with heart failure. But you need to understand that a cough appears only when the chambers of the heart are greatly enlarged and compress the bronchi that are on top. There is no cough in the initial stages of heart failure.

Usually pets with heart disease cough after sleep. But with the development of cardiogenic

edema pulmonariRelease of the liquid part of the blood into the alveoli of the lungs and filling the lungs with fluid the picture looks different – the dog is breathing heavily and coughing. In this case, the pet should immediately show the doctor.

Reazzjoni allerġika

An allergic reaction can also cause a cough. An allergy can be to the flowering of trees and plants in the season, household chemicals and perfumes. Foreign agents (pollen, particles of household chemicals), getting on the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract, cause an inflammatory reaction. Due to the development of an inflammatory reaction, the mechanism of cough and bronchospasm is triggered.

The dog can both quickly clear his throat and shake in attacks.

Cough in a dog - causes and how to treat

infezzjonijiet fungali

In rare cases, a cough can be caused by a fungal infection. Everything can start with an infection of the upper respiratory tract, and end with damage to the bronchi and lungs with weak immunity or if an infection is triggered.

Here it is necessary to choose the right therapy and choose an antibiotic active against fungi.


In older animals, the cause of coughing may be

oncological processFormation of malignant or benign tumors in the lungs. The lungs can be affected by both an independent tumor and metastatic processSecondary tumors that grow from cells in the primary tumorif the lesion is in another organ.

Often, the oncological process in the lungs is accompanied by the release and accumulation of fluid in the chest cavity – hydrothorax. Such patients breathe heavily and cough with wheezing. Unfortunately, if the respiratory system is affected by a tumor process, the prognosis is extremely unfavorable. You can use only symptomatic therapy aimed at facilitating the patient’s breathing.

Cough in a dog - causes and how to treat


Diagnosis begins with an appointment with a veterinarian. He examines the pet, checks

tracheal reflexSlight compression of the trachea, conducts auscultation of the chestListening to the chest with a phonendoscope, palpation and thermometry. With the help of auscultation, it is possible to identify the department of the respiratory system in order to understand the cause of the disease.

Also, do not forget about the analysis. A clinical blood test can show signs of an inflammatory process, anemia, helminthic and allergic reactions. A biochemical blood test is more needed to assess the condition of the liver and kidneys for prescribing antibiotics.

Specific analyzes (

PCRReazzjoni tal-katina tal-polimerażi, ELISAAssaġġ immunosorbenti marbut, THEY DIDImmunochromatographic analysis) allow you to make an accurate diagnosis of viral and bacterial infections. They determine the pathogen by specific protein components of the blood.

When coughing, it is worthwhile to carry out an x-ray of the chest in two projections: direct and lateral.

This will determine the degree of damage to the organs of the respiratory system and make a diagnosis. Sometimes more complex additional diagnostics are required:

Eżami CTTomografija kompjuterizzata, bronchoscopy with taking bronchoalveolar lavage.

A CT scan is considered more informative than an X-ray, since it allows a more detailed assessment of the nature and degree of damage to the pathological process. Also, this study is resorted to in controversial situations, when one x-ray is not enough to make a diagnosis, for example, with a collapse of the trachea or an assessment of the oncological process in the lungs.

Bronchoscopy with taking bronchoalveolar lavage is a diagnostic procedure that is performed by introducing a special video device (endoscope) and isotonic sodium chloride solution into the bronchi and lungs. Bronchoscopy allows you to assess the condition of the respiratory system from the inside. The solution is injected into the bronchi and lungs and then taken out. Subsequently, the wash is sent for analysis in order to understand the structure of the extracted cells and identify the causative agent of the disease. This procedure helps to make an accurate diagnosis, and knowledge of the pathogen allows you to choose a treatment.

Cough in a dog - causes and how to treat

What to do if the dog coughs?

In this section, I will tell you in detail how and how to treat a dog for coughing.

With a dry character and a mild form of cough, antitussive preparations containing butamirate – Sinekod in drops, syrup and Omnitus tablets are sufficient. This substance blocks the cough center in the brain.

For bronchitis of an allergic nature, inhalations of Seretide 125 + 25 mcg (prevents bronchospasm and has an anti-inflammatory effect) or Flixotide 125 mcg (prevents bronchospasm) are used. The peculiarity of the use of inhalation in animals is the use

spacerDevice for inhalation – a special device where the active substance is concentrated, which the patient must inhale. You can also use inhalation with nebulizzaturDevice for inhalation.

Antibiotics are used when there is a bacterial infection. They are prescribed, as a rule, for 3-4 weeks and are canceled only under the supervision of the attending physician. Since with early cancellation, it is possible to grow a stable bacterial microflora and the drugs will no longer work. Usually, antibiotics in the tablet form of the amoxicillin series (Sinulox), the doxycycline series (Unidox Solutab, Ronaxan, Doxifin) or fluoroquinolones (Marfloxin) are used in combination with injections of cephalosporins (Ceftriaxone, Cefazolin).

As a cough medicine for dogs, expectorants are also used in the wet form – ACC syrup, Lazolvan.

In some cases, systemic glucocorticosteroids are used – Prednisolone, Dexamethasone. These are hormonal drugs that have anti-inflammatory effects due to the suppression of the immune system. But they are contraindicated in the presence of heart failure.

In severe cases of tracheal collapse or BCS, surgical treatment is indicated.

It is important to understand that if a pet’s cough does not go away within two to three days, this is a reason to see a veterinarian.

Cough in a dog - causes and how to treat

If the puppy is coughing

Why can a puppy cough? There can also be many reasons, but mostly these are viral or bacterial infections that are transmitted by airborne droplets. If you notice a cough in your puppy, you should immediately take him to the veterinarian. For a baby, this can be many times more dangerous than for an adult animal.

Also, babies have congenital heart defects, which give complications to the respiratory system and provoke the development of a cough.

Cough in a dog - causes and how to treat

Prevention of cough in dogs

To prevent coughing in your pet, you must:

  1. Conduct annual vaccination against major viral diseases;

  2. Avoid hypothermia of the dog;

  3. Do not smoke near your pet and avoid strong-smelling household chemicals and perfumes;

  4. Avoid contact while walking with unfamiliar animals – you can become infected, since, unfortunately, there is never a guarantee that other owners will treat their pets in good faith.

  5. Congenital pathology – collapse of the trachea and BCS – unfortunately, cannot be prevented.

With symptoms of coughing, without tightening, you need to take the pet to an appointment with a veterinarian.

Cough in a dog - causes and how to treat

tabella fil-qosor

Below is a summary table – cough in a dog: causes, symptoms, treatment.




Collapse of the trachea

Short or paroxysmal cough, without expectoration, sounding rough

Antitussive drugs

Inhalation of glucocorticosteroids and bronchodilators using a spacer

Antibiotics for secondary bacterial infection

Systemic glucocorticosteroids

Surgical treatment in severe cases of collapse

BCS syndrome

Short or paroxysmal cough, without expectoration, sounding rough

Bluish tinge of mucous membranes


Additional drugs to ease breathing

Infezzjoni batterika

Strong, prolonged, paroxysmal cough of a dry or wet nature, often with wheezing


Discharge from the nose

Nifs mgħaġġel




Inhalation with a nebulizer

Infezzjoni virali

Strong, prolonged, paroxysmal cough of a dry or wet nature, often with wheezing


Discharge from the nose

Nifs mgħaġġel

Antitussives or mucolytics depending on the nature of the cough

Mediċini antipiretiċi

Antibiotics for secondary bacterial infection

Inhalation with a nebulizer

Helminth invasion

Short or prolonged cough, as if the pet is spitting up something and swallowing, often dry

Anthelmintic therapy – Caniquantel

With dirofilariasis – specific therapy with Immiticide with a preparatory stage of antibiotics for a month

Heart cough

Rare, short or paroxysmal cough, usually dry

Antitussives + heart failure therapy

Reazzjoni allerġika

Infrequent short or paroxysmal dry cough


Inhalation of glucocorticosteroids and bronchodilators using a spacer

Systemic glucocorticosteroids

Infezzjoni fungali

Strong, prolonged, paroxysmal cough of a dry or wet nature, often with wheezing


Nifs mgħaġġel

Antibiotics active against fungi

Antitussives or mucolytics depending on the nature of the cough



Rare, short or paroxysmal cough with wheezing

Symptomatic drug therapy that facilitates breathing – inhalation, antibiotics for inflammation, systemic glucocorticosteroids

Tweġibiet għal mistoqsijiet frekwenti


  1. Ivanov V. P. “Veterinary clinical radiology”, 2014, 624 pages.

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