Coughing in dogs, as in humans, is not a separate disease. It is a symptom of conditions of the respiratory system or other organs. Cough can also be a reflex to protect the body from different elements such as foreign bodies or irritating substances. Often the cough can be mistaken for vomiting or regurgitation, reverse sneezing, suffocation or severe wheezing. We can differentiate between irrigative cough without expulsion (non-productive cough) and wet cough with expulsion (productive cough). Both types of cough can be chronic or acute.

Types of Dog Cough and Their Causes

A dry, hacked or repetitive cough is also considered an irritating cough. It can be quite painful for the dog. When an irritating cough is long lasting, it gets stronger and can trigger a vicious circle. Due to intense inhalation of air, the mucous membrane becomes irritated and damaged so that it increases irritation and cough. A simple tug on the collar, pressure on the larynx or trachea, agitation, heavy inhalation, and dry air can trigger a cough.

Causes of Acute Irritating Cough in Dogs

  • Onset of respiratory tract infections and inflammation (such as kennel cough)
  • Inhalation of foreign bodies such as food or liquids.
  • Inhalation of irritating substances such as allergens or smoke.
  • Parasites

Causes of Chronic Irritating Cough in Dogs

  • Collapse of the trachea, this is common in small breeds
  • Pressure in the respiratory tract due to tumors, an enlarged cardiac atrium or enlarged lymph nodes


A wet cough is characterized by the expulsion of secretions. A coughing noise is often heard. This cough is more subdued, almost always accompanied by nausea. Phlegm secretions are often "vomited" after coughing. This cough usually occurs after rest periods, such as after sleeping.

Diagnosis of Cough in Dogs

Depending on the type and severity of the cough, the vet will perform different tests to determine the cause and the treatment to follow. Size and breed also influence the diagnosis, as small breed dogs often suffer from tracheal collapse. For the vet's first evaluation it is important that the dog owner provide a detailed report. The information you should provide to your vet is as follows:

  • How long have you had a cough?
  • How often and with what violence do you cough?
  • Is it a dry or wet cough?
  • When is the cough more frequent (night, day, when shaking, when eating)?
  • Does the dog have any other complaints? How is your general condition?
  • Are there any pre-existing conditions known as heart disease?

After this, the vet will perform a complete clinical examination. This is usually enough to determine the cause of the cough. Enlarged lymph nodes, elevated body temperature, or fever, swelling, redness, or infection of the tonsils or throat can be seen here. Sometimes a chest or lung x-ray is necessary. Mostly, attention will be paid to changes in the lung, heart, or trachea. Sometimes a blood test, endoscopy or even an MRI or CT scan is also required.

Cough Treatment for Dogs

Treatment requires knowing the cause of the cough. When a mild cough is the result of a cold, rest is usually enough to strengthen the immune system. If the cough is wet, it may be advisable to use a mucolytic or expectorant, always in consultation with your vet. Before using any household product, it is advisable that a veterinarian advise you, as some remedies are not suitable for dogs. In the case of a severe and permanent cough, or the appearance of new symptoms, a visit to the vet is recommended for more information. Sometimes it is necessary to administer medications such as anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, cough pain relievers, bronchodilators or treatments for pulmonary edema.

Prevention of Cough in Dogs

It is always better to prevent a cough than to treat it. Strengthening the immune system through a healthy lifestyle, plenty of exercise, and a balanced diet will save your furry friend a few colds. Due to the risk of infection, it is recommended that you do not allow your dog to come into contact with other dogs that are sick. As a responsible owner, it is not advisable to take your sick puppy to places with other dogs to avoid contagion. A vaccine can weaken the course of an infection. Make sure that your best friend does not inhale strong cleaning products or smoke. To avoid choking and inhaling food in voracious dogs, they can be fed in anti-voracious feeders. To relieve pressure on the neck, it is recommended to wear harnesses instead of necklaces.