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A cough from your dog can be a sign of a few different things. They may be sick, they may be choking, or they may just have a tickle in their throat. Knowing what kind of cough your dog has and why they could be coughing is important in determining if your precious pet needs a rush trip to the vet for a check-up or not. If you're ever in doubt that your pet needs professional care, you should always default to having them checked out. It's always better to be safe than sorry.

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What Causes Dogs to Cough?

Just like people, dogs cough because of irritation in the throat or lungs. Whether the irritation is from a physical issue like a collapsing trachea, or because of an illness like pneumonia, there is something causing them to feel as though they need to cough.

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How Can I Tell if My Dog Has Pneumonia?

Many people think of pneumonia as a 'human' sickness, but dogs and cats can get it as well. Pneumonia in dogs is very similar to pneumonia in people. The primary cause of coughing from pneumonia is the lungs filling up with fluid and making it difficult to breathe. If your dog has pneumonia, the cough will sound wet and thick, like they are trying to cough up a damp sponge. If your dog has this cough, you should immediately seek professional care and treatment!

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How Can I Tell if My Dog Has a Collapsing Trachea?

Collapsing trachea issues are most common in toy dog breeds that are brachycephalic. The term brachycephalic means 'shortened head.' Dogs such as Pugs, Boston Terriers, French Bulldogs, Bulldogs, and others have faces with flattened snouts. These are brachycephalic breeds, and they are naturally prone to collapsing trachea's because of this, though all dogs can suffer from it. If your dog is suffering from this, they probably choke a lot while they eat, and they may even have a cough that sounds like a honking goose! Consider switching to a harness instead of a collar and check with your vet to see if surgery is necessary!

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What Does Kennel Cough Sound Like?

Most dogs are vaccinated as puppies against kennel cough. However, if you have acquired a dog that has not been vaccinated or are unsure if your dog is vaccinated, and they are coughing, then listen to them closely. Listen for a deep cough, frequent hacking, and occasional honking. If your dog has been at a kennel or dog park recently, you may want to take them to the vet and get them checked for kennel cough.

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Does my Dog Have Allergies?

Dogs can also have allergies, and just like with people these allergies can cause them to cough. If you are wondering if your dog is coughing due to allergies, then take a look for other, non-coughing related symptoms. Are their eyes watering a lot? Do they look puffy? Do they seem to be sneezing more than usual? Are they scratching a lot and seem unable to get relief? If yes, then consider checking with your vet to see what the options are.

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Can Heart Problems Cause a Cough?

If your dog is having trouble breathing, and coughing at night while at rest, it's possible they may have heart disease. Heart disease also comes with a loss of appetite, a bluish colored tongue, fatigue and difficulty breathing. Contact your veterinarian to come up with a health plan to help treat your pet and consider reaching out to a veterinary dietitian to create a good meal and exercise plan!

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Can Parasites Cause a Cough?

The most likely parasite to cause your dog to cough is heartworms. Heartworms are transmitted via mosquitoes. The mosquito bites an animal that is already infected and sucks up the eggs, then flies to your dog, lands and unknowingly injects the dog with those eggs. Regular use of a heartworm medication is the best way to prevent your dog from getting heartworms. Preventing heartworm is always better, and cheaper, than treating it as the treatments are expensive and hard on the dog.

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Do Fungal Infections Cause Dogs to Cough?

Yes, a fungal infection can be the cause of a dogs cough. If you suspect that your dog may have a fungal infection, reach out to your veterinarian. Fungal infections can usually be treated with a short round of antibiotics. Your vet may even be able to give the antibiotic via injection so you don't have to give pills at home!

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What Else Can Cause a Cough?

While there are lots of scary reasons that your dog could be coughing, it could also be something as simple as they have something stuck on their throat or they got too excited and are experiencing reverse sneezing. There's no need to panic if the cough goes away when they drink something or after they have settled down.

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Is My Dog Having an Emergency?

In general, if your dog has any of the following symptoms you should seek veterinary care immediately:

  • Vomiting
  • Coughing or vomiting blood
  • Extreme fatigue or lethargy
  • Lack of appetite or refusal to eat and drink
  • Fever
  • Sudden collapse
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