7 Common Causes Why Is My Dog Coughing

7 Common Causes Why Is My Dog Coughing

Author WDF Staff


As dog owners, it is our duty to keep our dogs as healthy as possible. We will do anything to make sure our furry little buddies are healthy, happy, and safe. Unfortunately, we cannot keep them safe from everything. Dogs can get sick just like we can, and one of the potential health issues we share is coughing.

If your dog suddenly started coughing, there are probably a lot of questions racing through your mind. The first one is probably, “Why is my dog coughing?” The answer to that question is complicated and will depend on other symptoms the dog is exhibiting. The good news is that most coughing cases resolve on their own after a few days. Nevertheless, dog owners get worried and want to know more about why their dogs are coughing. Here are some of the most common reasons dogs start coughing.

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1. Pneumonia

There are different types of pneumonia in dogs, and some are more dangerous than others. The slightly good news is that most pneumonia cases in dogs are bacterial, and bacterial infections can be treated effectively with antibiotics. Pneumonia can develop as a secondary infection to canine parainfluenza or distemper, and those diseases are extremely dangerous. Pneumonia will cause the dog’s lungs to fill with fluids. That will cause an irritating cough. You should know that pneumonia will include various symptoms in dogs. You should call your vet immediately if you notice them. You can read more about it here - Pneumonia in dogs.

2. Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is a fairly common infectious disease, especially among dogs kept in unsanitary conditions. In fact, kennel cough is so contagious it can be spread through the air. The most common cause is the Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria. However, it is not the only possible cause. Kennel cough can be caused by different viruses, and some of them are parainfluenza, distemper, or adenovirus. Bacterial kennel cough can be treated pretty easily with antibiotics. This is not a huge concern, but it should still be checked and monitored by your vet. You can read more about it here - Kennel cough in dogs.

sick pug coughing

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3. Heart disease

Various heart diseases can cause coughing. They will cause a specific soft and continuous cough in dogs that worsens at night or when the dog is resting on its side. The heart gets enlarged and presses on airways and lungs, or the lungs might get filled with fluid. It is similar to human cough caused by heart diseases. In most cases, the dog has problems with heart valves or the heart muscle, and the heart cannot pump blood properly. This type of dog cough is usually controlled with heart medication. This can be pretty severe, and all heart diseases should not be treated lightly.

4. Heartworms

Dogs can get infected by various parasites, and one of those parasites is the nasty heartworm. These parasites are spread through mosquito bites. If you live in an area where mosquitoes are common, it is best to regularly deworm your dog, especially for heartworms. When their numbers are low, heartworms can be treated. However, if the heartworm disease is left untreated, the parasites’ numbers can go up, and they might migrate to the dog’s lungs. Severe untreated infestations of heartworms can result in death, so make sure your dog is protected and safe from these nasty parasites. You can read more about them here - Heartworms in dogs.

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5. Dog flu

Humans and dogs can get the flu. Dog flu, or canine influenza, is an infectious disease that can infect the dog’s airways and cause all sorts of problems. This highly contagious virus can be quickly spread amongst pets, so it’s best to quarantine your sick dog while they’re recovering. Coughing and other symptoms can last anywhere from 10 to 30 days. The good news is that the canine influenza virus cannot be spread to humans. In this case, coughing results from the inflammation of the airway systems. Your vet can prescribe different medications and cough suppressants to help your dog deal with this disease. You can read more about it here - Dog Flu.

6. Obstructions

In some cases, coughing can be related to foreign objects. Dogs can inhale or swallow something that will get stuck in their airways. The dog’s natural response will be to cough it out and solve the problem. However, that is not always successful, which means you will have to seek out veterinary help. If that happens, the vet will remove the object with an endoscope. If that’s impossible, the dog will have to undergo surgery.

7. Cancer

In some cases, coughing can be caused by cancer. Some cancers that might cause coughing in dogs are lung, heart, or surrounding tissue cancers. As you can probably imagine, this should not be taken lightly. Any type of cancer should be regularly monitored, and treatment should start as soon as possible. Cancer treatment can include chemotherapy, surgery, palliative therapy, and radiation.

When should I get worried?

Not all coughing cases are an immediate reason to get worried. The vast majority of coughing cases are viral infections or a cold that will probably resolve themselves in a week or so. Dog owners should get concerned if the dog suddenly develops a cough a can’t seem to stop coughing. If that’s not the case, and the dog seems fine, regularly eats, drinks water, and seems energetic, give it 7 days. Call your vet if the cough doesn’t get better in 7 days.

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If you notice other symptoms alongside coughing, like lethargy, appetite loss, vomiting, loss of energy, and breathing issues, you should call your vet. These are all symptoms of serious health problems that might require your vet’s intervention and medications. It is better to stay on the “safe side” and call your vet, even if your dog doesn’t have other symptoms. The vet will most likely tell you the same thing, to give it time, but at least they will know your dog has an issue that needs to be monitored.

World Dog Finder team

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