Canine Cough Tablets

A canine cough can be an indication of a more serious medical condition. Productive, moist coughs should be allowed to proceed on their own since the body is ridding itself of phlegm and other secretions from the lungs. This is the body's way of cleaning itself. On the other hand, dry, non-productive coughs need to be stopped long enough for the irritation and inflammation to decrease, in order for the coughing cycle to cease. Chronic coughing can irritate the respiratory system enough to cause more coughing.

Canine Cough Tablets

Cough tablets can be used to give temporary relief of cough symptoms. They can contain a cough suppressant (antitussive) and an expectorant. Usually half of a tablet is given to small dogs every 4 hours, while a full tablet is given to large dogs every hour. It is important to read the ingredients on the label thoroughly before administering. Some ingredients can be fatal to animals or trigger an adverse reaction in them.

Though not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use on animals, dextromethorphan is used to control chronic, dry coughing by suppressing the cough center of the brain. This would include dry, hacking coughs resulting from kennel cough or a cough secondary to a collapsing trachea. It should not be used for productive coughs. It does not cause deep sedation like narcotic cough suppressants; however, it can cause excitability, dizziness, vomiting, nausea, drowsiness and a decreased rate of breathing, necessitating the discontinuance of use. Dexotromethorphan cannot be used with products that contain caffeine, acetaminophen or other additives.


Dextromethorphan can help in controlling a canine cough; however, certain precautions are warranted. Be aware of the following:

  • Contact a veterinarian before administering.
  • Do not use if the dog is allergic or hypersensitive to Dextromethorphan.
  • Do not use for pregnant or nursing dogs.
  • Possible fatal reactions if used with acetaminophen, caffeine and other medications.
  • The drug causes a histamine release, so be cautious when using for animals with allergies.
  • Do not use within 14 days of administering monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOIs).
  • Do not use with narcotics, sedatives, antihistmines or central nervous system depressants, since the reactions will be magnified.
  • Monitor for excitability, decreased rate of breathing and confusion.

Determining the Cause

Before administering any canine cough tablets, consult a veterinarian. Coughs do not necessarily indicate a cold or pneumonia, but can indicate irritations to the lungs or windpipe, heart disease or even that some food is caught in the throat. Other factors that may produce a cough include:

  • Internal parasites, such as ringworms or heartworms
  • Heart disease
  • Bacterial infection
  • Viral infection
  • Allergies
  • Cancer
  • Tuberculosis
  • Bronchitis
  • Kennel cough
  • Distemper
  • Coccidiosis

A veterinarian is able to determine the correct cause of the cough and prescribe cough tablets, if necessary, or other action or treatment to alleviate the cough. The veterinarian will conduct a variety of tests, such as blood tests, stool, x-rays and spectrum tests to determine the illness or condition causing the cough.

Whenever introducing new medications to your dog, pay close attention in observing any adverse drug reactions. Some dogs can be allergic to some medications. Such side effects include wheezing, lethargy, confusion, increased thirst, decreased thirst, frequent urination, constant sleeping, loss of appetite and walking around in circles.