Yonge Sheppard Animal Hospital

102 – 280 Sheppard Ave E., Toronto, ON M2N 3B1 | 647-260-8387 | yonge.sheppard.vets@gmail.com

Unraveling the Mystery of Canine Coughing: Discover the Causes and When to Call in the Vet!

Is your furry friend coughing up a storm? Delve into the surprisingly complex world of canine coughing as we uncover its puzzling causes and shed light on when it’s time to hit the panic button. From kennel cough to heart disease, this guide will empower pet parents to navigate through the coughing conundrum. Don’t miss out on expert insights that will help you become a savvy guardian of your four-legged pal’s health. Find out when it’s time to unleash the vet superhero and ensure your pup’s well-being is in good hands.

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Coughing is a common symptom in dogs, much like it is in humans. While most coughs in dogs are usually benign and self-limiting, it is crucial for pet owners to be aware that coughing can sometimes indicate a more serious underlying condition. Being knowledgeable about what to watch for will help identify potentially severe causes promptly, ensuring the well-being of your furry friend.

Common Causes of Coughing in Dogs

The prognosis of a cough can range from completely harmless to potentially life-threatening, depending on its underlying cause. Let’s explore some of the common culprits of coughing in dogs:

1. Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex AKA Kennel Cough:

Similar to the common cold in humans, this is a highly contagious respiratory infection that can cause coughing, sneezing, and nasal discharge in dogs. Vaccination can help prevent this condition.

2. Collapsing Trachea

This occurs when the rings of cartilage that support the trachea weaken, leading to narrowing and collapse of the airway. Small dog breeds, such as Chihuahuas and Pomeranians, are particularly prone to this condition.

3. Asthma

Just like people, dogs can develop asthma, leading to coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing. Allergens and environmental factors can trigger asthma attacks in dogs.

4. Heart Failure

Coughing can be a symptom of heart failure in dogs. When the heart is unable to efficiently pump blood, fluid can accumulate in the lungs, causing coughing and difficulty breathing. For this reason it is important to watch out for coughing in any dog with a history of a heart murmur.

5. Pneumonia

This is a serious bacterial,  viral or even fungal infection of the lungs that can cause coughing, along with other symptoms like fever, lethargy, and loss of appetite and difficulty breathing.

6. Cancer

Unfortunately, in some cases, coughing can be a sign of lung cancer or tumors affecting the respiratory system. It’s essential to rule out this possibility, especially in older dogs.

Diagnosing the Cause for Canine Cough

Identifying the specific cause of a cough in dogs can be a challenging task. Veterinarians rely on various clues obtained during a physical examination to determine which diagnostic tests are warranted for determining the underlying cause. Determining the helps your veterinarian tailor your dogs therapy to ensure that get back on their paws as soon as possible. Let’s take a closer look at some of the tests commonly employed to investigate the cause of a dog’s cough:

1. Chest X-rays:

Chest radiographs provide valuable information about the condition of the lungs, trachea, and heart. They can help identify abnormalities such as fluid accumulation, tumors, or signs of infection.

2. Blood Pressure Measurement and Echocardiogram:

To assess the possibility of heart disease, your dog’s veterinarian may recommend measuring blood pressure and performing an echocardiogram. These tests provide information about the structure and function of the heart and can help diagnose conditions such as heart failure or heart murmurs.

3. Bloodwork

Blood tests are essential for evaluating various factors related to your dog’s health. In cases of suspected infections or allergies, bloodwork can help assess the white blood cell count and give your veterinarian vital clues as to the cause and seriousness of the cough. Additionally, bloodwork can reveal if other organs are affected and help determine the safety of certain medications.

4. Bronchoalveolar Lavage:

In some cases, a bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) may be recommended. This specialized procedure involves collecting fluid from the airways for analysis. BAL can provide valuable information about the presence of infectious agents, inflammatory cells, or cancer cells, aiding in the diagnosis of respiratory diseases.

Recognizing When to Monitor a Cough or When to Seek Veterinary Attention

As a pet parent, it’s essential to know when a cough in your dog is something you can monitor at home and when it may indicate a potentially life-threatening condition. While it’s always advisable to consult with a veterinarian for a professional evaluation, here are some guidelines to help you make an initial assessment:

1. Duration of the Cough

A cough that has been present for less than two weeks and shows no signs of worsening may be suitable for monitoring. However, if the cough persists or worsens over time, seeking veterinary attention is crucial.

2. Energy Levels and Appetite:

If your dog maintains normal energy levels, continues to eat and drink normally, and displays no significant changes in behavior, it may indicate a less urgent situation. However, any noticeable decline in energy, appetite, or sudden changes in behavior warrant veterinary evaluation.

3. Respiratory Rate and Effort

Monitor your dog’s respiratory rate, which is the number of breaths per minute, to assess the severity of the cough. If your dog’s resting respiratory rate consistently measures less than 30 breaths per minute, it indicates a relatively normal respiratory effort. However, if the rate is elevated or there are signs of increased effort, such as labored breathing or wheezing, prompt veterinary attention is necessary.

4. Presence of Other Symptoms

Pay attention to any additional symptoms accompanying the cough. Signs such as fever, lethargy, nasal discharge, rapid breathing, blue-tinged gums, or coughing up blood are concerning and should be evaluated by a veterinarian without delay.

At Yonge Sheppard Animal Hospital, we understand how much you adore your furry sidekick and how worrisome it can be when your four-legged friend isn’t feeling their best. We hope that this quick guide to coughing will equip you with all the know-how and confidence you need to be a savvy pet parent. Remember, we’re always here to help and ready to lend a helping paw every step of the way.

Got any burning questions? Don’t hesitate to reach out to us! You can contact the team at Yonge Sheppard Animal Hospital via:

– The Yonge Sheppard Animal Hospital Team 🐾