What Causes My Dog to Cough?

Dog cough is one of the most common canine symptoms. It is also a symptom of a wide range of conditions, so determining what is causing your dog to cough can be challenging. Dog cough can be triggered by something as simple as inhaling an irritant such as smoke, pollen or dust or it can be caused by something as serious as heart disease. The first step in treating dog cough is to determine the source.

Causes of Dog Cough

Besides irritants such as smoke, pollen or house dust, some common causes of dog cough include insect bites, dog allergies, dog parasites or worms, fungus disease, heartworm disease, respiratory infection, and kennel cough or "tracheobronchitis." Much like humans, the sound of the cough and associated symptoms is a great indicator of what the problem might be. A dry cough, for example, can be the result of kennel cough, while a moist cough can come from a buildup of fluid in the throat or airways in the dog's body. If your dog has a deep, wheezy cough, he could have bronchitis. Severe coughing that seems to linger for days and days on end could be a sign of heart disease. Keep in mind that less serious bouts of dog cough may last only a few minutes up to a day or two max and dog cough that may be associated with a more serious condition such as kennel cough, typically lasts up to two weeks.

Treating Dog Cough

Depending on the cause and type of dog cough, the condition can be treated at home or you will have to pay a visit to your vet. Please take your dog to the vet if he's experiencing any of the following:

  • Excessive panting accompanied by cough
  • Dry, crusty or bloody nose accompanied by cough
  • Change in voice accompanied by cough
  • Wheezing and coughing
  • Moist cough
  • Cough lasting more than two days
  • Rapid breathing or shallow breaths accompanied by cough
  • Heavy belly when breathing, accompanied by cough
  • Panting at night, accompanied by cough
  • Difficulty breathing accompanied by cough
  • Watery eyes and coughing
  • Blue tongue and gums
  • Pale tongue and gums
  • Fever
  • Discharge from the mouth or nose accompanied by cough

If your dog has a mild cough and he doesn't show any of the signs above, there are several at home methods and preventative measures that may be effective. You can:

  • Rid the area of irritants such as smoke and house dust
  • Vacuum and clean all furniture
  • Trim or brush your pets hair
  • Do not leave bones or other foreign objects lying around for your pet to swallow
  • Turn on a humidifier to moisten air
  • Provide plenty of fresh water
  • Talk to your vet about over-the-counter cough suppressants

In most cases, dog cough is not a cause for alarm, but it should never be ignored. If left untreated, a slight cough could develop into something more serious or it can be the cause of a more serious condition.