An occasional cough can be normal for a dog, actually helping clear the airway. If your dog's coughing is infrequent and there are no other symptoms such as nasal discharge or lethargy, monitoring him/her for the next couple of days may be all that is needed. Keeping your dog separate from other dogs is recommended until a veterinarian gives the okay, since he/she may have a contagious upper respiratory infection.
Signs that Your Dog Needs to See a Veterinarian
- Cough persists for more than just a few days
- Frequency and/or severity of the cough worsens
- Coughing produces phlegm, especially if it is discolored or contains blood
- Coughing is accompanied by other signs of illness (e.g., sneezing/nasal discharge, yellow or green eye discharge, vomiting, lethargy, not eating)
What You Can Do in the Meantime
- Keep the living area clean and free of dust particles and foreign matter that can be inhaled. This will protect the dog's respiratory tract from further aggravation.
- Make sure that your dog has a clear airway. Check for objects stuck in the back of the throat.
Common Causes of Coughing
- Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease ("Kennel Cough")
- Heart Disease
- Collapsing Trachea
- Foreign bodies in the respiratory tract
Treatment of Coughing
- Treatment of any underlying infectious cause. This may include broad spectrum antibiotics or anti-parasitic medications.
- Removal of any foreign bodies obstructing the respiratory tract.
- Anti-inflammatory drugs may be used, particularly if your dog has allergies.
- Heart medications may be needed if your dog has a heart condition.
- In severe cases where your dog is having difficult or labored breathing, treatment may involve hospitalization for supplemental oxygen.