The first time I heard my puppy cough, it frightened me. I wasn’t sure if the noise I had just heard was coming from my sweet 3-week old bundle of cuddles. But it was alarming and made me look for my vet’s number immediately. It was the first time I had heard her cough, but it was unnerving for me.
Thankfully it was nothing serious, but it got me thinking about what course of action I would have taken had it been something serious.
I found myself reading up on coughs and what I need to do if my dog is coughing and I’m concerned about and also when I need to be concerned. The vet told me how coughing was normal for most dogs, however, I should not ignore it if it is constant. Here is some useful information I found.
Types of cough
There are different types of coughs for dogs just as there are for people. Kowing which one your dog has will help you react appropriately. There are a couple of types of coughs that your dog may be experiencing.
It could be a dry hacking cough, or it could also be a deep honking cough. Ask yourself if your dog coughs in their sleep or if it is a wet phlegmy moist cough. It could also be a high-pitched gaging type of cough.
Why does my dog keep coughing and gagging?
Gagging is the action you see your dog doing when it opens its mouth and makes a sound that makes it seem as if something is about to be regurgitated but nothing comes out. It usually happens simultaneously or around the same time with a cough. It happens differently depending on what the problem is.
Watch your dog closely and see if he or she gags before or after coughing. Gagging can be due to physical factors or medical issues. Your dog may be gagging because of a foreign object in its mouth or its esophagus. It may also be because you have the dog’s collar on too tight.
Gagging in a dog can also be caused by inflammation of the larynx. If the cough comes before the gag then chances are high that the dog has issues like bronchitis or lower respiratory diseases.
If the dog gags first, then it is probably to do with issues surrounding the larynx. Gagging can also be caused by infectious problems like kennel cough and laryngeal paralysis. Your dog may also be gagging because of medical problems like roundworms or an elongated soft palate.
What home remedy can I give my dog for coughing?
When your dog coughs, most vets will treat it in the same way that you treat people with a cold. Its more a game of letting the cold leave the body by using certain means and ways, that do not exactly cure but they make the patient more comfortable. But perhaps you do not want to give your dog antibiotics or dog cough medicine and so you are looking for a home remedy.
The solution is much like what you would take to help soothe a common cold. Honey! It has a soothing effect on the throat both for people and dogs. You can feed your dog the honey, pure and raw, or you can mix it with different herbs. Half to one teaspoon of honey can do the job for you. Give your dog the honey at least 3 to 4 times a day.
Coconut oil is also effective in fighting bacteria and killing viruses. The amount that you give your dog depends on their weight. You can gauge the amount you should be giving your dog by calculating one teaspoon for every 10pounds of body mass, once a day. Honey mixed with coconut oil makes for a great “cough syrup”
One of the major reasons why dogs cough, is because they use their mouths and noses to explore the world around them. As they do this, there can be the transfer of germs and foreign objects that can cause the dog to start coughing. A dog may be coughing for different reasons including :
- Kennel cough- which is the most common cause.
- Canine Influenza
- Heartworm disease
- Heart disease
- Collapsing Trachea
- Laryngeal paralysis
- Reverse sneezing
- Chronic bronchitis
- Swallowing foreign objects
You can help relieve your dog of mucus, by taking him or her to the vet. You can also make use of nose drops, that will help clear the nasal passages. The other way in which you can do this is by adding a humidifier in the room.
Safe vs. Unsafe Medications
There are safe and unsafe ways for you to treat your dog’s cough. You must get clearance and a go-ahead from the vet. It can be tempting to try using human medicines and nasal decongestants to help your dog.
However, this is not the best solution for your dog. It is unsafe to use decongestants used for people on a dog. They have some ingredients that are harmful to dogs. Anything that contains phenylephrine and pseudoephedrine is poisonous for dogs.
Dextromethorphan is safe for dogs and is usually recommended for coughing dogs. This is usually for dry unproductive coughs. For wet and moist coughs, medication with guaifenesin is usually the go-to.
What is Kennel cough
Kennel cough is a respiratory infection in dogs, caused by bacteria and viruses. This cough is not too serious and usually clears in a few weeks. It is also not something to worry about and aside from the cough has no other illnesses tied to it.
Dogs can get fungal infections and these can be classified into systemic diseases which can be life-threatening or fungal skin infections that are milder. The latter being infections that are skin deep, such as ringworms, and yeast infections. Systemic fungal diseases go deeper and they can be fatal for the dog.
Your dog’s lungs can be affected by different ailments. Some of these are:
- Canine Distemper Virus
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- Kennel Cough
- Lung Tumors
- Colds and Flu
Whilst you may not be able to prevent them all and some are more serious than others, a trip to the vet can clear things up for you and point you in the right direction for treatment.