August 2019

Audience: Executive Leadership, Foster Caregivers, Public, Shelter/Rescue Staff & Volunteers, Veterinary Team

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")
  • Pneumonia
  • Heart Disease
  • Collapsing Trachea
  • Heartworms
  • Allergies
  • 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.

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