Dog cough causes diagnosis treatment

Bacteria and viruses (z.B. distemper; non-specific germs after ingestion) Heartworms (Dirofilaria immitis; so far only with dogs, which were abroad resp. originate from there, as the transmitting mosquitoes are not yet native to Germany) Mushrooms (v.a. Aspergillus spp.)

Kennel cough

The Kennel cough (infectious tracheobronchitis) is one in dogs widespread, contagious infectious disease – and a very Common cause of coughing with the dog.

The disease can be triggered – similar to a cold in us humans – by a whole range of pathogens (often one or more viruses, v.a. the Canine Parainfluenzavirus, occasionally in combination with bacteria).

All dogs can catch kennel cough (even if they are vaccinated against it – the vaccination doesn't protect completely) – and that even quite quickly and easily! Was your dog 7-10 days before his cough has started, somewhere in contact with many conspecifics (z.B. in a dog park, kennel or day care center)? Then the chances are not bad that he caught kennel cough there.

Many affected four-legged friends show only a light, dry cough (often seizure-like, with gagging at the end) and are otherwise quite blithely. Others also seem a bit floppy, sneezing or have watery nasal and/or eye discharge. However, especially puppies, unvaccinated and immunocompromised dogs can also become so severely ill that it can lead to pneumonia and even death.

Usually the kennel cough disappears within one week to 10 days on its own again. But it can also lead to a chronic cough that simply won't go away without treatment.

If you suspect that your dog has contracted kennel cough, you should fairly keep away from conspecifics, in order not to infect them.

dog cough causes diagnosis treatment

Dog with kennel cough

tracheal collapse/airway collapse

The so-called tracheal collapse (trachea = windpipe) is unfortunately a fairly common disease, which occurs mainly in the case of small dogs occur (z.B. Yorkshire Terrier, Miniature Spitz, Pug, Maltese, Chihuahua).

Imagine that the windpipe is built like a kind of tube, which is kept open and round by rings of cartilage. In case of tracheal collapse, some of these rings are no longer stable. give way – the trachea collapses at this point. The cross-section of the tube is no longer round, but rather shaped like a "D" and thus narrowed.

Dogs with tracheal or bronchial collapse classically suffer from chronic, dry cough, who often barking or "goose-cry-like" sound sounds. It often comes in fits, sometimes ending in retching. Often the coughing fits are caused by exercise, excitement, ingestion of water or pulling on the leash (v.a. when a collar is used) triggered.

Some dogs with respiratory collapse also pant a lot, show poor performance (d.h. they tire quickly during exercise) and sometimes even suffer from respiratory distress.

Presumably, the disease is primarily caused by a cartilage weakness but is triggered by various factors, such as obesity, dental disease, respiratory infections, heart disease, and inhalation of irritating substances, or. promoted.

Chronic bronchitis

Chronic bronchitis is a disease in which – without knowing exactly why – there is inflammation in the bronchi (i.e. the air-conducting passages in the lungs), excessive mucus formation and progressive narrowing of the airways.

Affected dogs suffer from chronic, persistent cough, whereby the symptoms begin insidiously. The cough often comes in fits and ends in retching. There are usually no other symptoms.

The chronic bronchitis occurs v.a. at medium-aged to old dogs of small breeds but it can also affect large dogs. Obesity, dental disease, tracheal collapse, heart disease and respiratory infections appear to increase the risk for the disease.

Unfortunately, the disease cannot be cured as a rule, but can be alleviated and slowed down by various measures.

Heart diseases ( heart cough )

Various heart diseases can also cause dogs to cough – this is then referred to as "cardiac cough".

Possible causes include Mitral valve endocardiosis (mitral valve insufficiency), the dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), a so-called. Pericardial effusion (fluid in the "sac" that surrounds and protects the heart) and some more.

laryngitis (inflammation of the larynx)

Inflammation and swelling of the larynx can occur as part of a Respiratory infection occur, but z.B. also as a consequence of Irritation due to inhaled smoke/dust/gas/foreign bodies, excessive barking, extreme panting, or after intubation at the veterinarian's office.

The coughing of the affected dogs sounds dry at first, but later can become moist and is often painful. Other possible symptoms include a change in voice when barking, noisy and labored breathing, pain when swallowing (and therefore possibly. lack of food intake) and occasional respiratory distress.

Laryngeal Paralysis (Larynxparalysis)

In the case of laryngeal paralysis it comes to the narrowing of the airways in the throat due to paralyzed vocal folds. It is a relatively common disease that v.a. occurs in older, large dogs.

Typical symptoms include rasping sounds when inhaling, a change in voice when barking, mild coughing, retching, occasional difficulty eating, and in severe cases, respiratory distress.

Then you should take your coughing dog to the vet

As mentioned earlier, if your dog only occasionally coughs briefly, it's probably not a big deal – as long as he's otherwise doing well.

And even if your dog has only recently developed a slight cough and is otherwise well, you can first of all wait, whether the problem will go away on its own.

However, if the cough is very severe or does not get better or even worse within a week or so, you should definitely have your dog examined by a doctor Veterinarian have a checkup.

Do not wait, but as soon as possible go to the vet (if necessary. even as an emergency), you should, if your dog has

– suffers from shortness of breath, – is very listless or appears ill, – suffers from a bloody cough, – does not want to eat, – has a fever (body temperature above 39°C) or – shows other serious symptoms, z.B. weight loss, constant gagging or vomiting

How does respiratory distress manifest itself in dogs?

If a dog is in respiratory distress, it is having trouble getting enough oxygen to the body. Severe shortness of breath is a life-threatening emergency, in which you should take your dog to the vet immediately!

Signs for the fact that a dog suffers from shortness of breath are

– an increased breathing rate, i.e. very rapid breathing – constant panting – breathing with head stretched forward and neck extended – sitting with elbows apart to breathe better – breathing movements often clearly visible on the abdomen – restlessness, restlessness – panic widened eyes – bluish mucous membranes, z.B. in the mouth (in this case it is an emergency in any case)!) – Occasional wheezing or whistling sound when breathing

Examinations and diagnosis in coughing dogs

The first thing your veterinarian will do in a Preliminary discussion Clarify with you how long your dog has been coughing, whether the cough only occurs in certain situations and whether your dog may have recently been in a kennel or crèche. Ideally, you should also have a small video with you that shows how your dog coughs.

This is followed by a thorough clinical general examination. Of course, your veterinarian will pay special attention to the breathing and heart of your four-legged friend. So he will z.B. look closely into your dog's mouth, listen to the heart and lungs and check if prere on the larynx or trachea can cause coughing.

In uncomplicated, mild cases of cough, these examinations may be sufficient to establish a tentative diagnosis (e.g., a cough with a bacterial infection).B. kennel cough). It is then (for the time being) waived further tests and if necessary. treatment is started.

Further examinations

However, it may also be that further examinations need to be carried out. This comes z.B. if your dog is suffering from a very severe cough, he has other symptoms (such as z.B. (e.g. if the dog shows shortness of breath), if the cough has been present for a long time or if the cough is still present. does not get better despite trial treatment or the previous tests point in a certain direction (z.B. Suspicion of a heart problem).

Depending on the cause suspected by your veterinarian, then come z.B. a X-ray examination the trachea and/or lungs, various Blood tests, a fecal examination for worms, a ultrasound examination of the heart or a Computer tomography (CT) in question.

It may also be that your veterinarian examines the airways with a Endoscope, would like to examine a tube-shaped, flexible camera, in other words. In this way, many changes can be visualized and z.B. inhaled foreign bodies are removed directly.

Treatment of coughing dogs

The treatment of coughing dogs depends logically on the overall condition of the affected quadruped and what is suspected as the cause of the cough.

If a special Trigger If a foreign body is found, it should be treated if possible. If, for example, it is suspected that a dog suffers from kennel cough with bacterial involvement, an antibiotic may be useful. An inhaled foreign body should be removed as a matter of course. If laryngeal paralysis or tracheal collapse occurs u.U. an operation in question.

Supportive cough treatment for dogs

In addition, however, there are some measures that are often useful in coughing dogs.

Especially in mild cases of kennel cough you can help your dog with this and relieve the cough a little bit.

But also in more severe cases where medication is needed, they can i.d.R. be well supported.

Avoid irritating substances in the air

Try to expose your dog to as few irritating substances in the air as possible. In fact, anything that irritates the airways can trigger a coughing fit. Therefore you should

– Cover your dog's sleeping areas with clean cotton sheets or towels and replace and wash them regularly

– vacuum the carpets and upholstered furniture in your home frequently

– Avoid cigarette smoke, deodorants/perfumes, air fresheners, room sprays, hairspray, cleaning sprays and dust near your dog

Harness instead of collar

A collar puts prere on the larynx and trachea region, which is already sensitive in coughing dogs. So it's better to switch to a harness when walking your dog on a leash. This is particularly important in the case of laryngitis and tracheal collapse.

"Gentle" walks

When a dog is coughing, it makes more sense to take him for gentle walks than to let him romp and run. Then exercise can even help loosen stuck mucus.

Reduce excess weight

Overweight promotes many diseases that lead to coughing. In addition, excess fat can collect in the chest, reducing space for the lungs and causing coughing by putting prere on the airways. So if your dog has a little too much on the hips, it should definitely lose weight.

Soft food

If your dog has trouble or pain swallowing (z.B. due to laryngitis), soft, mushy food may be more comfortable for him to swallow than dry food or chunks of meat containing gristle.


If you have ever suffered from a cough and then inhaled, you know how beneficial this can be. Stuck mucus is loosened and can then be coughed up more easily (and less painfully). So it is understandable that such an inhalation can also help some dogs with a cough.

However, it depends a bit on the cause. This is how z.B. Heart cough or cough due to a tracheal collapse thereby i.d.R. do not get better. On the other hand, if inflammation is present, such as z.B. in case of kennel cough or other infection, inhalation may give relief to the affected dog under certain circumstances.

Unfortunately, we can't explain to our four-legged friends that they should sit in front of an inhaler for 5 minutes and take a deep breath. One possible solution: place near your dog's sleeping place a Ultrasonic humidifier* on. This enriches the total ambient air with more moisture. Range of your quadruped -. Spread a towel or blanket over both. Dogs often stay calmest when you join them under the blanket. The inhalation should then last 3-10 min. May be done several times a day.


In the case of a moist, productive cough, you can also use a sog. Perform "Coupage" (z.B. after inhalation). To do this, form a kind of bowl with each of your hands and tap it gently several times (!) on the side of your dog's chest – similar to what we do when someone chokes, but with "cupped hands" and on the side of the chest. Due to the generated "vibration" the mucus can be loosened more easily.

drug treatment for coughing dogs

Depending on the severity and cause of the cough, your dog may also need treatment with medications or. may be useful.

If a dog suffers severely from its cough, z.B. Cough suppressant can be used. Also Cough and expectorant may be useful under certain circumstances. However, you should never use such medications on your own – you may do more harm than good. Of course, this is especially true for remedies from the medicine cabinet, which are actually intended for us humans!

In case of making diseases (z.B. chronic bronchitis, tracheal collapse) are also anti-inflammatory drugs (sog. Glucocorticoids, this includes z.B. cortisone) and Agents that dilate the bronchial tubes, used. To ensure that these arrive exactly where they should – namely in the respiratory tract – they are often administered via special inhalers with a mask.

What you can do yourself

In very mild cases (such as.B. a mild kennel cough), but also in support of treatment by your veterinarian, you can use the above at "Supportive cough treatment for dogs" use the measures described.

In addition, before a visit to the veterinarian, you can already important Information collect, z.B. When your dog coughs especially – only in certain situations? At night? After movement?

As mentioned above, a turned before the vet visit can be Video, that shows how the dog coughs can also be very helpful!


Ettinger, S.J., Feldman, E.C., Côte, E.: Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine, 8 th edition. Elsevier, 2017.

Nelson, R., Couto, C.: Internal Medicine of Small Animals, 2. German requirement. Urban& Fischer, 2010.

Neiger, R.: Differential diagnoses internal medicine in dogs and cats. Enke, 2009.

Like this post? Please share to your friends:
Leave a Reply

;-) :| :x :twisted: :smile: :shock: :sad: :roll: :razz: :oops: :o :mrgreen: :lol: :idea: :grin: :evil: :cry: :cool: :arrow: :???: :?: :!: