Coughing in Dogs: Causes and Treatments
Foreign Body in the Lungs
Grass seeds and food particles are the most common foreign materials inhaled
by dogs that are big enough to lodge in the smaller breathing tubes. Most of
these are quickly coughed up. If the object becomes fixed in the airway, it
causes intense irritation and swelling of the air passage. Mucus collects below
the obstruction and forms an ideal medium for bacterial growth and infection.
Objects that remain in the lungs for several weeks can cause pneumonia.
Sudden attacks of coughing that occur immediately after vomiting or after a dog has
been running in tall grass and weeds suggest inhalation of a foreign body.
Lungworms in the bronchi also cause severe coughing spasms.
Treatment: Unexplained coughing should be investigated by a veterinarian.
Avoid cough medicines, unless prescribed by your veterinarian, since they delay
treatment. Bronchoscopy is usually successful in locating and removing
bronchial foreign bodies, particularly if the procedure is done within two
weeks of inhalation.
This condition occurs primarily in older dogs of the toy breeds,
particularly Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, and Toy Poodles, and occasionally in
young dogs as a congenital defect.
Collapsing trachea occurs because the C-shaped tracheal rings do not possess
normal rigidity. As a result, the involved wall of the trachea collapses as the
dog inhales. Obesity is a predisposing
factor, as is chronic bronchitis.
The principal sign of collapsing trachea is a characteristic goose-honk
cough. The cough is made worse by stress and exertion, including pulling
against a collar. Coughing may also occur when the dog eats or drinks.
Respiratory insufficiency develops as the disease progresses.
Treatment:Examination by a veterinarian is the first step. Diseases of the
heart and lungs should be ruled out before making the diagnosis. Dogs with mild
to moderate symptoms respond to proper nutrition and a low-stress routine that
avoids situations that trigger episodes of coughing. Moderate exercise is
beneficial. Using a harness or head halter instead of a collar is
Overweight dogs should be put on a weight-loss diet. Eliminate cigarette
smoke and other atmospheric pollutants that can trigger coughing.
Bronchodilator drugs such as aminophylline, theophylline, or albuterol are
beneficial for many small dogs. Mild low-dose sedatives during stressful
periods also are helpful. Cough suppressants and corticosteroids may be
prescribed when the coughing is particularly severe. Respiratory infections
require prompt treatment with antibiotics.