As humans, we are not generally concerned by a cough here or there. For us, it is often a way to clear our throats or rid our airways of any physical blockages. Much like in my previous post about puppy hiccups, there are times when you should be concerned about a dog’s coughing and times when a cough serves a similar purpose to the one described above.
When it comes to being pet owners, practically any repetitive behaviors seen in our pups can be concerning, and it is great that you found your way here to learn more about the issue. To help you determine whether or not a dog’s coughing is just a passing problem or a sign of a more serious condition, let’s take a closer look at what a dog’s coughing means and what you can do about it!
Why Is My Dog Coughing?
Let me ask you a silly yet very important question: what would happen if you had to use your nose to learn more about everything around you? The answer? You would probably get a lot of things stuck in it!
While using our nose to understand the world around us is just one part of the human experience, this sense is very important to dogs as their nose helps them to navigate and discover new things. As you can imagine, having your snout in the ground frequently means that you are going to pick up quite a bit of dust and small particles along the way.
If your dog can’t sneeze those things out, they are going to cough them out! Additionally, a dog’s coughing could just be a way for them to get fur out of their mouths or to clear their throat if they ate or drank too fast.
If they cough infrequently (and as a way to expel dust and other items that may be stuck in their airways), a dog’s coughing is normal, and the only thing you can do is wait until they get everything out of their system!
For those who have pups who are coughing regularly and are doing so in a way that is not related to any of the points above, the next questions are, what is causing my dog’s coughing, and what can I do about it?
When Coughing Becomes Problematic
While coughing can happen for a number of natural reasons, there are also several illnesses and health problems that can lead to persistent coughing fits as well. To help you better understand what may be behind your dog’s coughing and how it is affecting them, take a look at the list of potential complications below.
A dog’s coughing may be a sign of:
- Lung Infections (or Cancer)– In some cases, the things that dogs pick up can get lodged in their airways can cause an infection. In other cases, your dog may have picked up an illness such as pneumonia or bronchitis. In very rare cases, your dog may be suffering from lung cancer instead. Regardless of which issue it may be, it is important to note if your dog continues to cough and begins showing other dangerous symptoms like fatigue.
- Fungal Infections– Just like your dog can easily pick up a cold or lung infection through their nose, they are also susceptible to yeast infections and other related fungal infections if they pick up infected materials.
- Heart Problems– If your pup is dealing with a health complication like heart disease or heart failure, it can result in added pressure on their airways and problems like fluid buildup, which forces them to cough and makes them engage in erratic breathing behaviors in order to get enough air. They may also be dealing with heartworms, which can cause the same breathing issues. Either way, both of these problems require treatment!
- Distemper– Distemper is a very dangerous disease that affects everything from the respiratory system to the central nervous system. Take this disease very seriously as it can often be fatal to dogs.
- Kennel Cough- Kennel cough is much like a doggy cold as it can be passed on from dog to dog when your pup is in places where other pets have been. The typical symptoms present in dogs with kennel cough is a hacking cough combined with gagging. While it can be unpleasant, it is highly treatable and not a cause for alarm.
- Tracheal Collapse– In obese dogs and toy breeds, tracheal collapse may occur and will result in a honking cough that will make your pup sound like a goose. This is also a type of cough that can occur during exercise or during hot and humid weather.
- Lodged Items– Your dog’s coughing may also be a sign of something stuck in their airways that they can’t get out. If you believe that your dog may have inhaled or swallowed something that is causing their coughing fits, take them to a veterinarian immediately!
What you need to look out for when you are trying to determine if your dog has one of the problems listed above are coexisting symptoms like fatigue, decreased appetite, and other concerning problems that point to another culprit besides dust. If you believe that your dog may have one of these health problems, it is vital that you take them to the vet as soon as possible to get them the help that they need.
What Can I Do About My Dog’s Coughing?
Unless your dog’s coughing is part of an illness that can be cured by a vet, there is nothing you can necessarily do to stop your dog’s coughing as it is often something that they will need to get through themselves. If you feel like you need to take action, you can always try patting their back to help them get something out of their airways or give them water if you feel that they need it. Beyond that, a dog’s coughing is a normal thing!
A dog’s coughing is very rarely a dangerous condition, which means that you can feel safe when your dog begins clearing their airways. If you are ever in doubt about your dog’s current health, refer to this guide to brush up on common dog conditions that may cause your dog’s coughing!