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Coughing in Dogs – Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment

In days of extreme climate, be it the chilling cold or the extremely hot days, you often find yourself coughing or sneezing. This can be seasonal or just normal sickness. Your dog, on the other hand, shows quite a similar situation. You will notice that your dog will cough occasionally and might even sneeze. Different causes exist, and treatment is available for this condition. If you have any questions about why is my dog coughing? This article will explore the causes, symptoms, and treatment for coughing! 

Why is My Dog Coughing And Gagging?

There can be a lot of causes as to why is my dog coughing and gagging? It can range from a simple cold to major lung issues such as pneumonia. Although coughing is natural, it might indicate a severe condition if it is frequent and harsh. These are a few causes of frequent coughing in dogs – 

#1 Infection

infections are caused due to viruses and bacteria present around your dog’s environment. Bronchopneumonia is a condition caused by an infection where a dog’s upper respiratory tract and airways are infected. This will lead to coughing and great distress while breathing as well. Kennel cough in dogs is another common infectious disease.

#2 Heartworm Disease

Mosquito bites cause this heartworm cough in dogs. The process involves a mosquito carrying the contaminants and properties of one parasite from one dog to another. After the successful transportation of the larva, it moves and takes hold in the lungs of the infected dog. This leads to inflammation which can result in major lung issues. 

#3 Collapsing Trachea

If the cartilage rings in the trachea weaken, the trachea collapses. Collapsed trachea leads to dog wheezing cough and irritation around the throat. Small breed dogs such as Beagle, Pomeranian, and ShihTzu are prone to this condition. 

#4 Laryngeal Paralysis

Airway passages do not operate entirely in this condition. Laryngeal paralysis in dogs happens because of weakened nerves that operate the muscle around the larynx. If your dogs suffer from laryngeal paralysis, you will often find them having difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, and coughing. 

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#5 Chronic Bronchitis

Bronchitis in dogs is identified as a dry wheezing cough that worsens with any physical activity. It is most likely that your dog will be diagnosed with chronic Bronchitis if no other explanation for the cough can be listed. 

#6 Kennel Cough

kennel cough is a contagious infectious disease. Your dog might catch the infection from their park visits or outdoor time. Although it is an infectious disease, it is not exactly a matter of worry. If you still think it is serious, a visit to the vet to give your dog kennel cough treatment as it should help you with the problem

#7 Heart Disease

when the heart fails to function correctly, it accumulates fluid in the lungs. This will make your dog cough mostly while they are lying down. These are a few causes of coughing in dogs. You will notice that most of the issues are caused to due bacteria, viruses, and parasites. So the best way to avoid these problems is to keep away from an environment that has too many contaminants in them.  

Types of Dog Coughs

It’s important to know the types of coughs in dogs so you can better understand what might be wrong with your furry friend and get them the treatment they need.

  • Wet cough – it will consist of a lot of mucus and sound very moist. 
  • Honking cough – it can be described as goose honk. The Honking cough in dogs sounds very much similar to the sound of a honk. 
  • Gagging cough – sounds very harsh and is relatively high-pitched. 
  • Hacking cough – It sounds like a dry cough. You can identify dog hacking cough quickly as it sounds as if your dog is trying to cough something out.

Let us look at some ways to identify the problem. 

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Symptoms of Coughing in Dogs

The primary recurring symptoms of coughing in dogs are

  • A wheezing cough.
  • Coughing up mucus or any fluid. 
  • Tiredness is a common symptom. 
  • The dry cough worsens with any physical activity or cold air.
  • Snorting and reverse sneezing(when a dog rapidly pulls air into the nose). 

Diagnosis of Coughs in Dogs

Diagnosing a cough in a dog is purely based on the type and symptoms that can be seen. The diagnosis of coughs in dogs will be based on the type of cough and the period over which this problem can be seen. A clinical examination conducted by the vet ensures the proper and correct diagnosis of coughing. A clinical examination includes examining the dog’s lungs and throat with the help of various medical tools such as X-ray, MRI, CT scan, and ECG. Extensive medical processes are conducted only when the vet cannot identify the problem or if the diagnosis can be made through apparent visible symptoms on the surface. 

Blood tests are one of the best ways of determining what is wrong with your dog’s health. Blood tests are very accurate in identifying a probable cause for any illness. If your dog is infrequently coughing, it usually does not hint at a major problem and can be checked with simple instructions given by your vet through telephone or email. But if the cough is regular and your dog is showing signs such as extreme tiredness or coughing blood with mucus, you should visit the vet as soon as possible. 

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A few other ways of diagnosing the problem are – 

  1. Faecal examination. 
  2. Urinalysis. 
  3. Blood cell count. 
  4. Checking blood pressure. 
  5. Serology. 

Dog Cough Treatment

With all the medical tests and examinations, a common underlying problem is identified and treated accordingly. The dog cough treatment is different for all conditions. To treat bacterial infections, a course of antibiotics is prescribed. There is no specific cough medicine for dogs for viral infections, but there are other ways to support your dog’s body to fight the infection. Your dog should be hydrated all the time. Climate plays a major role in fighting viral infections as well. You should keep your dog in a moderate climate, and extreme climatic conditions should be avoided. 

Parasitic infections in the lungs caused by worms such as lungworms are treated with deworming methods and require frequent visits to the vet. It is essential to ensure that all the worms are eliminated during the treatment. Allergic reactions that cause coughing in your dog can be easily treated by changing the environment. Corticosteroids can be given in case the condition persists. 

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For other significant causes, intensive treatment is the only solution. In such cases, your dog must be admitted to the hospital and kept under observation by a vet. Your vet can also consider surgery if the situation is dire. 

When to Visit the Vet?

Usually, coughing or getting sick is pretty standard in dogs as they interact with foreign substances outdoors and indoors. So you need not be worried if the symptoms are mild. There are home remedies for dog cough as well for mild symptoms. But if the coughing persists for a long time, you must visit your vet. Because if severe conditions are not treated in time, they may result in fatal situations. 


There will be times when your dog will get sick, just like you do. It might be because of the weather, environmental materials such as pollen, infectious diseases, bacterial infections, or heart problems. Fortunately, it can be cured through various treatments available today. Your vet should be able to diagnose the problem and treat everything accordingly.