Dog Coughing Up Mucus

A dog coughing up mucus is often affected by a respiratory infection or the Kennel cough. Additional symptoms should be detected and a proper diagnosis is needed to get the right course of treatment. It’s important to avoid antitussives in your pet, as these are not recommended in the case of a productive cough.

Causes of Dog Coughing Up Mucus

There are a number of respiratory infections that will cause mucus cough up or expectoration. The most common infection is the Kennel cough, which is a contagious disease the dog can contract from shelters, the playing yard or other spaces with canines.

Some medical issues causing phlegm expectoration may include:

  • Bronchitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Canine influenza
  • Allergic reactions to irritants such as cigarette smoke, pollens, dust mites or chemicals, which enter the respiratory ways and the dog will attempt to expel these through coughing

Additional Symptoms along with Mucus

When your dog is coughing up mucus, there will be mucus around the mouth or nose, after coughing. This symptom is typically accompanied by additional signs such as:

  • Sneezing, which may also come with mucus. This symptom may point to either a respiratory infection or allergies
  • Gagging
  • Scratching and licking of skin, indicative of allergies
  • Swollen limbs or face, due to allergies
  • Elevated temperature
  • Red eyes
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy

The color and consistency of the mucus may vary, depending on the condition affecting the dog. The mucus may be yellowish, more transparent or even brown or greenish. When the mucus is transparent, this typically means that the dog doesn’t have an infection, but is allergic. Yellow, green or brown mucus clearly points to an infection.

In some cases, the dog has a non productive cough and as the infection evolves, he may start to produce and eliminate mucus.

Diagnosing a Productive Cough

When your dog is expectorating when coughing, you need to take him to the vet. The vet will need to examine the dog and have a sample of the mucus, to test it. The composition of the mucus can indicate the nature of the infection or whether the dog has an allergic reaction. In the case of an allergic infection, the vet may run additional tests such as the intradermal testing, which can detect the culprit allergen. Lung x-rays may also be needed if the vet suspects pneumonia.

Treatment Options for a Cough with Mucus

The main treatment options for a dog coughing up mucus will consist of:

  • Antibiotics (e.g. amoxicillin), if the dog has a respiratory infection, bronchitis or pneumonia. The treatment with antibiotics should be administered for up to 2 weeks and may be available in the form of pills or injections
  • Allergy medication such as antihistamines (e.g. Benadryl) or corticosteroids (e.g. Prednisone or Prednisolone)

Steam baths can also clear the air passages, if the dog has a respiratory infection.

Avoid administering cough medication or antitussives, as these are only recommended if the cough is non productive.