Productive Cough in Dogs

A productive cough in dogs may be an indicator of the kennel cough, but also a more advanced infection. The productive cough is defined as the cough after which the dog expectorates mucus or other types of discharges; the productive type of cough is opposed to the dry cough, which will not result in any discharges.

Causes of Productive Cough in Dogs

The productive cough in dogs may have various causes such as:

  • Bacterial or viral infections
  • The kennel cough, which is a common bacterial respiratory infection; the infection may be contracted from other pets that carry the bacteria and if your dog has been in a kennel, he is very likely to have caught the infection from this environment
  • Pneumonia, which may originate in an infection that has advanced to the lungs
  • Internal parasites may cause this type of cough; heartworms or lungworms may be suspected
  • Lung problems
  • Heart problems
  • An allergic reaction to mold, chemicals, dust or pollens

The productive cough may also appear after the dog starts a treatment with certain drugs that are used for a dry cough. In this case, the productive cough will indicate that the infection is about to heal.

Additional Symptoms Accompanying Productive Coughing

The symptoms that may accompany the productive cough may include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • The dog may cough up blood
  • Wheezing
  • Watery eyes
  • Nasal discharges, that may vary in color and consistency
  • Resistance to exercise
  • Depression and lethargy

Not all these symptoms will be present; the presence of the symptoms will be determined by the condition that affects the dog. However, some dogs may not have any additional symptoms.

Diagnosing Productive Cough in Dogs

The diagnosis of the cough in dogs will be made based on the symptoms reported and a set of additional lab tests. It’s important to let your vet know for how long the cough has been present and whether the cough was dry in the beginning.

The lab tests that may be performed may include:

  • Blood tests, which can reveal the presence of a bacterial or viral infection, but may also show if there are antibodies that are produced when the dog has heartworms or lungworms
  • X-rays to see if the lungs or the heart is affected
  • Ultrasounds to detect any tumors or abnormalities
  • A test of the discharge, which can identify the infectious agents

Treatment Options for the Problem Causing the Cough

The treatment options for a productive cough will vary, according to the diagnosis and the dog’s overall condition:

  • Antibiotics, used for viral and bacterial infections, including the kennel cough
  • Antitussives, which will eliminate the cough and may be applied in conjunction with antibiotics
  • Steam baths, which can clear the air ways and are recommended if the dog ahs an infection
  • Heartworm medication, but this won’t be effective if the infection is in an advanced stage
  • Surgery, for serious lung or heart problems
  • Antihistamines or steroid medication for an allergic reaction.