Why is My Puppy Coughing?

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Puppy CoughingIf you notice that your furry friend has suddenly caught a persistent cough when it’s usually active and healthy, you may be concerned. This is completely understandable, especially since our beloved pets can’t point us to what’s bothering them, so it’s up to us to determine the cause and how we can help as pet parents. In this article, we discuss “Why is my puppy coughing”, along with the treatment options available to you both at home and with your vet.  

Common Reasons for Dog Coughing

While there are a variety of reasons behind your dog’s symptoms, they will usually fall into one of the categories below.  

1. Kennel Cough

Respiratory infections such as kennel cough are among the most common diseases around dog parks, kennels, boarding facilities, and dog shows. This disease of the upper respiratory tract is caused by Bordetella bacteria and is also known as infectious tracheobronchitis. It’s characterized by a hacking and dry cough that’s loud and may be accompanied by nasal discharge and sneezing.    

Kennel cough will be typically passed on through direct contact such as touching noses, sharing contaminated food bowls and water, or through droplets in the air. While this is usually treatable in dogs, they can be more dangerous in young puppies no more than 6 months old. It’s also common in dogs with weak immune systems. 

2. Heart Disease

Your dog’s heart may be exposed to a wide range of conditions, which include heart problems such as valve diseases like patent ductus arteriosus (PDA). Arrhythmia and heart murmurs can contribute to a coughing dog, while congestive heart failure can also result in coughing as a result of an accumulation of fluid in the lungs. The most dangerous heart condition you may encounter is heartworm disease, which is caused by parasitic worms. 

This disease can be passed on from mosquito bites, and when left untreated, may cause heart and lung problems, which can lead to coughing in dogs.  

3. Parasites

All kinds of internal parasites such as hookworms, roundworms, heartworms, and tapeworms may be the cause of your dog’s cough. Such parasites can result in irritation or inflammation of the lungs; when infected, dogs may exhibit a loss of appetite, difficulty breathing and coughing. Dogs may also get parasites from making contact with other dogs and animals, contaminated food or water sources, as well as soil. 

In other cases, parasites can also be transmitted from mothers to their puppies in the womb. Because of this, your pet should get regular deworming from your veterinarian to help prevent and manage parasite infestations. 

4. Respiratory Issues and Allergies

Both respiratory issues and allergies are some of the most common reasons for coughing dogs. Allergies are often caused by dust mites, smoke, pollen, molds, and other allergens found in the environment. These can result in inflammation and irritation of their airways, which may lead to coughing as your dog’s way to clear their lungs and throat. 

Your dog’s lungs may also get bacterial infections such as Bordetella bronchiseptica or viral infections like the canine influenza virus. If your pet shows any sign of coughing, be sure to have it examined by your vet immediately, to help you find the underlying cause. These kinds of infections can cause your dog to cough and struggle with breathing, so they will need the right treatment plan.  

5. Toxins and Foreign Bodies 

There are times when your pet might cough as a result of a foreign object that they accidentally ate or inhaled. This can occur when dogs, especially small breeds, inhale a toy or object and gets stuck inside their airways, causing coughing while they try to expel it from their body. Pups can also be exposed to fumes such as cigarette smoke or wildfires which can lead to inflammation and irritation of the lungs, making your dog cough.   

6. Anxiety or Stress 

Anxiety and stress can also result in coughing with dogs. They may become stressed because of routine or environmental changes, loud noises such as fireworks, or being around other dogs which make them nervous. This could lead their body to develop a dry and hacking cough that will help their body eliminate their stress. 

7. Congestive Heart Failure

This health condition occurs when the heart can’t pump enough oxygen and blood around the body. As a result, fluid can accumulate in the lungs, which makes it difficult for them to breathe and will also make them cough. It’s necessary to take your pup to your vet if you see signs of congestive heart failure which include difficulty breathing, lethargy, and coughing. 

8. Tracheal Collapse

This condition refers to the weakening of the trachea or windpipe, making it unable to properly support the dog’s airways. As such, the throat will become irritated and will lead to difficulty breathing and coughing fits. Tracheal collapse is most commonly seen in small dogs such as Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, and Yorkshire Terriers.   

9. Chronic Bronchitis or Pneumonia 

As we all know, pneumonia is an infection of the dog’s lungs that can cause difficulty breathing and a chronic cough. On the other hand, canine chronic bronchitis is a lung disease that’s caused by the inflammation of the airways, leading to a lot of coughing. It can be caused by parasites, allergies, and other irritants like cigarette smoke.  

10. Sore Throat

There are times when a sore throat can induce coughing in dogs. It can take place when an irritant or infection causes their throat to become inflamed, making it hard for dogs to drink or swallow their food. This can be caused by foreign objects stuck in their throats or an infection like canine influenza. 

11. Reverse Sneezing

A reverse sneeze is a condition in which dogs take consecutive inhalations rapidly through their nose. This can sound like your dog is gasping for air or honking, and usually caused by the irritation of their sinuses or throat.  

Treatment Options for Dog Cough 

There are a variety of options that you can look into for your dog’s cough, but this will depend on the type of cough they’re dealing with. Below, we list both home remedies and veterinary options for you to consider. 

Home Remedies

If your dog has the occasional cough, you won’t have to take it to the vet immediately, and can get away with using a few solutions you may already have at home. 

  • Using Humidifiers: Using a humidifier can help to loosen any mucus or clear irritation in your dog’s throat and respiratory system. Doing this can also help reduce coughing and allow your pup to breathe better. 
  • Steam Inhalation: Placing a warm and moist towel on your dog’s nose and muzzle can give them some form of relief from coughing. It works similarly to the humidifier and can help to make their mucus and phlegm thinner. 
  • Honey: You may want to give your dog some honey, which has natural properties that may help to soothe your dog’s throat and help reduce coughing. 

Veterinary Treatment Options

In severe cases where a dog has been coughing for weeks, or if the cause of your dog is more serious, you will need to look for veterinary care. Your pup’s vet will need to diagnose your dog and determine the appropriate treatment, which can include the following: 

  • Antibiotics: If your pooch has an infection, a dose of antibiotics could be necessary to combat the cough.
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs: If your pup has a persistent cough as a result of inflammation, these drugs may help to reduce swelling and irritation from their airways. 
  • Deworming: Deworming treatment could be necessary if your dog’s cough is caused by parasites. 
  • Steroids: This can help to reduce swelling and inflammation in the throat that could be the cause of your dog’s cough. 
  • Bronchodilator: This kind of medication can help to open up your dog’s airways, allowing it to breathe easier. 
  • Cough suppressants: A cough-suppressing agent can help reduce coughing, and may help your pooch heal and rest better. 

Why is My Puppy Coughing

As dog parents, it’s up to us to be observant of our older dogs’ behavior, especially if they develop a chronic and persistent cough. If you see your dog coughing, it’s essential that you get it checked by your veterinarian who will be able to tell you the cause behind your dog’s condition. They will also be able to determine the best plan of action to treat your dog’s symptoms and how you can prevent coughing in the future.