Why is My Dog Coughing?
There are many causes of coughing in dogs. Too many in fact to discuss in this writing. I would like to share the most common causes, many of which can be avoided.
One of the most common causes of coughing is infection caused by viruses or bacteria. Dogs are exposed to these organisms when they enter an area where infected dogs are or have been. The most common areas are shelters, pet stores, grooming facilities, boarding kennels, and dog parks Bringing a new pup or dog home, can expose your other dogs to infective organisms as well. These infections can occur any time of the year, but we see a lot of these infections around the Christmas Holiday season when dog owners are taking their dogs to the above mentioned facilities. In 2014/15 Tri State Veterinary Medical Group treated an exceptionally large # of dogs who had been brought into PetSmart for grooming, for obedience classes or just for shopping. Obviously the best way to prevent infection is AVOIDANCE OF EXPOSURE. The next best way is to get your dog VACCINATED against Bordetella Bronchiseptica (kennel cough). Another vaccine to consider is the Canine Influenza vaccine which protects against a much more virulent organism that can cause a life threatening hemorrhagic pneumonia.
Another common cause of coughing is exposure to cigarette smoke. Not only is the smoke an irritant to the mouth, nasal passages, trachea, and lungs. It is also a carcinogen that can cause lung cancer, which will cause your pet to suffer and will shorten your pets life. PLEASE DO NOT ALLOW YOUR PET TO INHALE CIGARETTE OR CIGAR SMOKE.
Heart worm disease will also cause coughing. Heart worms are transmitted to dogs & cats by feeding mosquitos (sucking a blood meal). The heart worms live in the heart & eventually cause heart failure. During the first 2 years of infection, your dog may not show any signs of infection. Once the heart has become so damaged from the presence of the worms, congestive heart failure will occur, and your dog will cough. (Other symptoms are exercise intolerance, trouble breathing, passing out, weakness, pale or bluish gums, sudden death.) HEART WORM INFECTION IS EASILY PREVENTED BY KEEPING YOUR PET ON HEART WORM PREVENTION YEAR ROUND. Ask your veterinarian which products will be best for your individual pet. A prescription is required to purchase these preventives.
Other causes of coughing may arise from post nasal drip, tracheal collapse, asthma, allergic reactions, foreign bodies, lung infections, coccidia (an intestinal parasite), round worm migration, lung worms, congestive heart failure, lung torsion, cancer, and more. A physical examination performed by a qualified veterinarian is the most important part of determining why your dog is coughing. Your veterinarian may recommend other tests to determine the cause of the cough. Bring a stool sample to the examination appointment. DO NOT LET A COUGH LINGER WITHOUT SEEING YOUR VETERINARIAN.