Most dogs may develop a cough at some point in their lives and it's often difficult for pet parents to determine that cause of this or whether it's a serious problem.
A cough can indicate a number of different health concerns - some more serious than others.
Here is a brief guide to some different types of canine coughs and what you should know about them.
In most cases, when a healthy dog starts coughing, it is usually due to a kennel cough or another similar viral or bacterial infection.
Some common symptoms of Kennel cough include:
- Dry hacking cough
- Spasms of coughing
Kennel cough symptoms usually last between 10 to 20 days and can come back during periods of stress. Most cases needs medical intervention.
Complete recovery from kennel cough may take up to three weeks in healthy dogs and twice as long in older dogs or dogs with underlying immunosuppressive conditions. Puppies can also take a bit longer to recover.
Something Stuck In The Throat
A cough that becomes suddenly intense or is more of a gagging sound, could be a sign of sore throat or something is stuck in the throat.
If your dog is outside or has just come in from outdoors when the coughing starts, it's likely he has inhaled a grass seed or other foreign objects from outside that may be stuck in his throat. If your dog seem to have difficulty in coughing whatever it is, then it is best that you make an appointment with your veterinarian.
A cough that sounds wet usually means that there is a buildup of fluid in the dog's lungs. Fluid or phlegm in the lungs is a symptom of pneumonia, which has a lot of causes. Bacterial pneumonia is caused by a pathogen and there are several organisms that can result in infection. Fungal pneumonia is the result of a deep fungal lung infection and it is a more serious and hard-to-treat problem.
Symptoms of pneumonia in addition to coughing may include:
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Difficulty in breathing
A recurrent episode of cough that sounds like a goose honk can be a sign of a collapsing trachea - especially if your dog is a small breed. Tracheal collapse is a chronic, progressive disease that can be either acquired or congenital.
Symptoms of tracheal collapse may include:
- Signs of exercise intolerance
- Respiratory distress
- Gagging while eating or drinking
Treatment options for collapsing trachea may include medical management. More serious cases often require highly specialized surgery.
Another condition common in small breed dogs is the tendency to reverse sneeze. The sound a dog makes while it's happening can be mistake for coughing or choking.
Reverse sneezing is caused by a spasm of the throat and the soft palate that is triggered by an irritant. In a regular sneeze, air is pushed out through the nose. In a reverse sneeze, air is instead pulled rapidly and noisily in through the nose.
Most cases of reverse sneezing require no treatment. However, it's a good idea to try to keep track of when the episodes occur so you can determine what the probable triggers are and try to avoid them.
Coughing can also be a sign of heart disease in dogs.
Other signs of a heart problem may include:
- Bluish tinge to the tongue
- Loss of appetite
- Decreased exercise endurance
- Too fast or too slow heartbeat
- increased respiratory effort
If your dog has been diagnosed with a heart condition and coughs mainly while he is resting, lying down, or at night, it could be a sign the disease is progressing.
Treatment of heart disease in dogs depends on a variety of factor including the severity of the problem, cost of treatment, age and health of your pet, and other consideration.