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Noticing your dog coughing is always a cause for concern – is he sick? Is he choking? Is he going to be okay?

In most cases, your fur baby is fine and might just have a case of mild kennel cough.

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But you want to be prepared for every scenario, right?

Read on understand all the symptoms of dog coughing, such as:

  • Coughing and gagging
  • Coughing at night
  • Choking
  • Phlegm, mucus, and foam

As well as potential causes and effective treatments, so you know exactly what to do if your pup is under the weather.

Noticed Your Dog Coughing and Gagging?

Dog coughing and gaggingHe might have just eaten too fast (greedy Labrador!) – but what if your dog’s coughing and gagging is something more sinister?

Let’s understand why your dog is making this noise, how you can help immediately, and whether he needs to see the vet.

Why is my dog coughing and gagging?

First off, let’s define the difference between the two problems:

  1. Coughing: a deeper throat sound and generally won’t bring anything up – besides phlegm and mucus which your dog usually swallows. Nice.
  2. Gagging: an unpleasant ‘cracking’ sound where your dog opens his mouth wide and is sometimes followed by vomiting. Let’s hope you had time to move him off your antique rug!

So, why is your dog coughing and gagging?

The causes of canine cough are hugely varied, from a minor allergy to kennel cough or cancer.

If your dog is gagging, there are three potential causes:

  1. He’s eaten something that disagrees with him
  2. His larynx is inflamed
  3. He has kennel cough

If your dog has been gagging, but after an hour or so appears bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, you have nothing to worry about.

If the gagging lasts longer than a day, and your pup also appears distressed and not himself, take him straight to the vet for an examination.

You know your dog better than anyone. If something doesn’t seem right, definitely seek a veterinarian’s opinion.

My old dog is coughing and gagging – should I be worried?

After a long life of eating strange things and barking at the mailman, older dogs are prone to the odd cough and splutter.

But when your elderly pooch is coughing and gagging numerous times each day, it could be something more serious.

Here are the main causes of an old dog coughing and gagging – and what you should do:

Cause of old dog coughing and gaggingDetailsTreatment
Minor problemsAllergies or a mild respiratory infection.A short course of antibiotics, home remedies, hypoallergenic foods, shampoos, and bedding.
Kennel coughDry, ‘honking’ cough followed by gagging + lethargy and loss of appetite.A short course of antibiotics, home remedies, and plenty of rest in a warm place.
Heart diseasePersistent cough accompanied by a lack of energy and difficulty breathing.Switch to low-sodium diet for minor conditions or more invasive heart surgery.
CancerCancer in the lungs, or that has spread to the lungs.Surgery is the only option.

As you can see, the potential causes for your old dog to cough and gag are widely varied.

Consult your veterinarian as soon as there’s anything out of the ordinary.

What Does it Mean When My Dog is Coughing at Night?

My dog is coughing at nightIf your dog is only coughing at night, or his coughing fits worsen when he’s in bed, it’s important to first rule out external factors that might be stressing him out.

What it means

Your dog coughing at night could be an external or an internal problem that is being exacerbated while lying down.

Make sure your dog’s bed isn’t too close to:

  • Air fresheners (that spray automatically overnight)
  • Air conditioning units or air vents
  • Open windows

A drafty room may be causing your pup to catch a chill and develop a cough during the night.

Once those things are ruled out, you can look at the other causes of your dog coughing at night.

Common causes of your dog coughing at night

The first and most obvious cause of nighttime dog coughing is kennel cough, which is known to get worse at night.

This highly contagious upper respiratory disease can keep you and your beloved pup awake for hours on end.

You’ll know it’s kennel cough by the persistent, honking cough that sounds like something’s stuck in his throat.

But, rest assured, kennel cough is easily treatable with some rest and care from your veterinarian.

Other causes of your dog coughing at night include:

  1. Heart disease
  2. Distemper
  3. Chronic bronchitis
  4. Cancer

These issues are less common and will require a careful examination and diagnosis from your vet.

Remedies for your dog coughing at night

The best thing to do if your dog is coughing at night is to make sure that he’s as comfortable as possible.

This means…

  • Isolating him from other dogs who might try to play and wind him up
  • Keeping him warm and cosy with his favourite blanket and cuddly toys
  • Make sure he has plenty of water

If you want to give your dog something to help soothe his throat and stop him coughing, there are a few home remedies that may ease his symptoms:

  1. Stir a teaspoon of honey in a bowl of warm water
  2. Offer him a few spoons of natural yogurt
  3. Make a bone broth by stewing chicken or beef bones for 6-12 hours

These natural remedies might help ease your dog’s symptoms, but you should still see a vet if your pup is coughing at night.

Why is My Dog Coughing Like Something is Stuck in his Throat?

My dog is coughing like something is stuck in his throatIf you think your dog is choking and don’t know what to do – leave this article now and take him straight to the emergency vet!

But for future preparation, here’s a run-through of what to do if your dog is choking (including how to do the Heimlich Manoeuvre).

Describe the sound

This will help the vet diagnose the problem over the phone or when you take your dog in after the coughing fit has finished.

It can be tricky to describe what your dog’s cough sounds like, so here’s some guidance:

Dog cough soundPotential diagnosis
Dry, hacking coughKennel cough, bronchitis
HonkingKennel cough, tracheal collapse
Deep coughKennel cough
Wet, phlegmy coughLung problem

Consult your vet if your dog won’t stop coughing and if it sounds like your dog keeps trying to cough something up.

Common causes of your dog coughing like something is stuck in his throat

Here are some common culprits to be prepared for:

  • Foreign objects stuck in his throat: such as sticks, grass seeds, parts of a toy, or something else he might have grabbed when you weren’t looking.
  • Kennel cough: the honking cough can be easily mistaken for choking.
  • Another viral respiratory infection: like canine influenza

What to do about it

Firstly, try to look inside your dog’s mouth to see if anything is stuck in there. Be aware of what items in the home are dangerous for your dog.

If you can’t see anything, watch out for other signs of a respiratory infection such as:

  1. Loss of appetite
  2. Lethargy
  3. Breathlessness

Consult with your vet. If your pup has a respiratory infection like kennel cough, he’ll be prescribed some antibiotics which should clear the cough in a week or so.

Be sure to give your dog plenty of rest in a quiet place, keep him away from other dogs, and offer him plenty of cuddles and love!

What Home Remedy Can I Give My Dog For Coughing?

Home remedies for a coughing dogBefore we proceed with home remedies for dog coughing, please remember: do not give your dog human medicine without permission and guidance from your vet.

Those who prefer homeopathic treatments might be thinking – what home remedy can I give my dog for coughing? 

Here are a few simple but effective home remedies that may soothe your pup’s throat:

Common remedy #1 – Honey

Honey, particularly medicated forms such as Manuka, is regarded as a cure-all for many ailments for animals and humans.

It can help to soothe the throat and its antibacterial properties can help your dog heal from infections like kennel cough.

When providing honey for dogs, just remember that it’s also full of sugar which is harmful in large quantities. Stick to one teaspoon of honey, stirred into water or given raw, twice per day.

Common remedy #2 – Yoghurt

Natural yogurt (without added sugars and flavours) is a natural probiotic.

Probiotics are beneficial for humans and animals because they help to replenish good bacteria in the gut.

A cold spoonful of yogurt will also feel very soothing if your pup has a sore throat!

Start with one teaspoon for a small dog and a tablespoon for a large breed. Don’t give your dog too much yogurt as it can upset his stomach – canines can’t digest dairy as well as we can.

Common remedy #3 – Echinacea supplement

Echinacea is a popular health supplement for humans and even for dogs. It’s an ancient treatment known for boosting immunity and fighting flu-like symptoms.

Clinical studies have shown Echinacea to significantly improve symptoms of coughing in dogs.

The best form of Echinacea for dogs is in droplet form, which you can add to their water or directly into their mouths.

Effective Dog Coughing Treatment

Dog coughing treatmentIf your dog’s coughing has gotten worse, or he’s been diagnosed with an infection like kennel cough, you’ll probably want a stronger dog coughing treatment.

Let’s take a look at some safe and effective dog coughing treatments your vet may prescribe:

Common treatment #1 – Antibiotics

A serious case of dog coughing like kennel cough may require a course of antibiotics.

The best kennel cough antibiotics for dog coughing are:

  • Doxycycline
  • Baytril
  • Clavamox

This dog coughing treatment will kill the bacteria and prevent it from growing. Treatment will start working immediately, but remember that your dog will still be contagious for two weeks – so keep him isolated until he’s completely recovered.

Common treatment #2 – Intravenous Fluids

If your dog is coughing incessantly, it may be hard for him to keep his fluids up.

Your dog needs about 1 ounce (or ⅛ cup) of water per pound of body weight each day.

If your dog is dehydrated while he’s sick, his condition will start deteriorating rapidly – especially on a hot day.

To help treat your dog’s cough, your vet may give him intravenous fluids to ensure proper hydration so his body can fight the illness.

Common treatment #3 – Dextromorthephan

Cough suppressant medicine like Dextromorthephan – commonly known as Robitussin – may be prescribed to ease your dog’s coughing.

The medicine will provide much-needed relief to the irritating and painful symptoms of dog coughing conditions like kennel cough.

Be sure to follow your vet’s advice when administering and watch out for side effects such as sedation and nausea.

What To Do If Your Dog is Coughing Up Phlegm

Dog coughing up phlegmIf your dog is coughing up phlegm, it’s a sign he has some sort of infection.

What it means

Phlegm can mean a mild infection or a severe infection:

  1. Mild: kennel cough or canine coronavirus/influenza
  2. Severe: pneumonia (especially in puppies and old dogs)

Common causes

A phlegmy cough in dogs is caused by either a viral or bacterial infection. In rare cases, your pup might breathe in a foreign material that causes pneumonia.

The most common bacteria that cause your dog to cough up phlegm are:

What to do and remedies

The most important thing to do to prevent and treat your dog’s phlegmy cough is to:

  • Eliminate contact with infected animals at shelters, dog parks, doggy daycare
  • Prevent exposure to cold, damp conditions at home or in the kennel

Take your sick pup to the vet to get the best possible treatment. Phlegmy coughs are treated by antibiotics, anti-fungal medication, rest, and healthy, wholesome food.

Help! My Dog is Coughing Up Blood

Dog coughing up bloodFirst, don’t panic! Seeing your precious dog coughing up blood certainly looks scary, but it’s important to stay calm and go straight to the vet.

What it means

A dog coughing up blood is a sign that something severe is going on inside – a severe infection, poisoning, or damage to the stomach lining.

Common causes

These are some of the potential diagnoses if your dog is coughing up blood:

  • Heartworm
  • Tuberculosis
  • Internal damage (from a fight with another animal or a collision with a car)
  • Cancer

These are serious conditions, so early diagnosis is key to treating your dog early and ensuring he gets better quickly.

What to do and remedies

The correct remedies for your dog coughing up blood are hugely dependent on the diagnosis.

Here are the best treatments based on the diagnoses we mentioned above:

Cause of dog coughing up bloodTreatment
HeartwormPeriodic injections from your vet
TuberculosisUnfortunately, euthanasia is the only option
Internal damageMedication, surgery, casting for broken bones
CancerRemoving any tumours with surgery, medication, diet change

Dog Coughing Up White Foam?

Dog coughing up white foamThis should be treated as an emergency as it could indicate something nasty is going on in your dog’s body. Get him to the vet immediately for treatment and peace of mind!

What it means

If your dog is coughing up white foam, it could mean that:

  1. Your dog’s just eaten something that doesn’t agree with him (grass, bad food)
  2. Your dog has a serious illness that’s causing internal bloating and gastric problems

Common causes

Here are the common causes of your dog coughing up white foam:

  • Kennel cough
  • Indigestion
  • Pancreatitis
  • Toxin exposure
  • Gastrointestinal obstruction
  • Bloat due to distended abdomen (this is serious, get straight to the vet)

Because the potential causes of your dog coughing up white foam are so broad, treatment options could range from short-term medication to serious surgery.

What to do and potential remedies

Minor causes of coughing up white foam and vomit only require you to carefully watch over your dog, offer him comfort, and potentially give him some anti-nausea or kennel cough medicine.

But if it’s something more serious, such as toxin exposure or bloat, your fur baby will need to be hospitalized and even have surgery.

A one-off instance of your dog coughing up white foam is okay, but if the symptoms continue for a number of hours you should take him to the vet.

Dog Coughing and Sneezing?

Dog coughing and sneezingA harmless allergy or something more serious? The odd cough and sneeze is nothing to worry about, but if your dog is coughing and sneezing over and over again he’s probably sick.

What it means

If your dog is coughing and sneezing, it means he probably has kennel cough or canine influenza.

The most important thing to know about kennel cough and canine influenza is that they’re extremely contagious.

One dog coughing and sneezing in a dog park can infect every dog very quickly. If you suspect your dog is sick, isolate him immediately and don’t let him socialise with other dogs until he’s better.

Kennel cough is only dangerous if left untreated, the mortality rate ranges from 1-8%.

Common causes of dog coughing and sneezing

Here are the most probable causes of dog coughing and sneezing.

MildKennel cough

Canine influenza

Allergies

SevereCollapsed trachea

Bronchitis

Heart disease

For more severe cases, your dog will probably be showing other worrying symptoms like loss of appetite, lethargy, or just not acting himself.

What to do and remedies

These are the best treatments and remedies for dog coughing and sneezing, depending on the severity of your pup’s condition.

Severity of dog coughing and sneezingRemedies
Mild
  • Rest
  • Honey
  • Antitussives
  • Nutrition and hydration
Severe
  • Antibiotics
  • Non-steroid treatment
  • Oxygen therapy

Dog Coughing Up White Mucus

Dog coughing up white mucusLet’s take a look at the causes and treatments for your dog coughing up white mucus.

What it means

In most scenarios, your dog coughing up white mucus means he’s suffering from a mild case of kennel cough or canine distemper.

If your dog is coughing up thick mucus, especially if it’s coming from his eyes or nose, take him to the vet immediately.

Common causes

Coughing up or vomiting mucus is most likely caused by:

  1. Kennel cough
  2. Upset stomach
  3. Influenza

Coughing up white mucus is a common symptom associated with kennel cough, as persistent gagging and coughing churn up saliva and mucus in your pup’s throat.

It sounds and looks nasty, but you don’t need to panic. After a trip to the vet and a short course of treatment, your fur baby will be back to his playful self/

What to do and effective remedies

The first solution to kennel cough is to take your dog to the vet for a thorough check over. Depending on the severity of symptoms, your vet may prescribe medication or send your pup home to rest and recuperate.

Besides kennel cough medication such as antibiotics, here are some things you can do to help your dog heal from kennel cough:

  • Isolate him from other dogs
  • Make him a warm, comfortable bed in a quiet place
  • Give him access to plenty of fresh water
  • Make him some bland chicken broth

Dog Coughing When Excited

Dog coughing when excitedMost dogs have plenty of reasons to be excited.

Getting their breakfast, chasing birds, playing with their friends, and greeting you when you get home from work – these scenarios will have most pups jumping for joy and wagging their tails.

But what if they start coughing? How can you help them?

What it means

In most cases, dogs that cough when excited may be sick with a respiratory infection.

But it’s important to consider other factors that cause dogs to cough even when they’re excited – like tracheal collapse or breathing difficulties associated with their breed.

Dog breeds like Pugs and French Bulldogs are highly susceptible to respiratory conditions that affect them even when they’re happy and playful.

Common causes

Common causes of dogs coughing when they’re excited include:

  • Kennel cough
  • Tracheal collapse
  • Bronchitis
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Heart disease

What to do and remedies

It’s heartbreaking to see your precious pup suffer from coughing even when he’s excited.

Minor respiratory infections like kennel cough will clear up after a few weeks of rest, medication, and good quality food.

To give your pup back his quality of life, it’s important to get him checked out by a vet to rule out any severe conditions – like tracheal collapse, heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – that will need surgery.

Breed-specific conditions that cause dogs to cough when excited can cost thousands of dollars

It’s an important decision, but one that will help improve your dog’s happiness and longevity.

Dog Coughing and Vomiting

dog coughing and vomitingIn some severe cases, dog coughing may cause vomiting.

After a few days of exposure to kennel cough, excessive coughing and gagging can irritate your pup’s throat until he starts throwing up.

When this happens, it’s time to get proper treatment to avoid your dog’s symptoms getting worse and his condition deteriorating.

What it means

Vomiting on its own could be caused by a myriad of different issues, from a simple upset stomach to poisoning.

If your dog is coughing incessantly, then vomiting, it means he’s probably struggling with a severe case of kennel cough.

Common causes

If you’re looking at your dog coughing and vomiting, these are the problems you might have to deal with:

  • Kennel cough
  • Bronchitis

These respiratory infections are super contagious. If you suspect your pup is sick, make sure you separate him from other animals and cancel any future stays at doggy daycare.

What to do and remedies

Once you’ve been to the vet and received a diagnosis, make your dog a comfortable, quiet, safe space at home.

Ideally, it should be well-ventilated, easy to clean (in case of future accidents), and complete with his favourite comforting blankets and toys.

The coughing aspect of your dog’s illness can be treated with home remedies, cough suppressants, and antibiotics.

You might also need anti-nausea medication from your vet. Otherwise, feeding your dog bland food in small amounts will help prevent vomiting.

To protect your dog from further kennel cough infections, you should consider getting him vaccinated. The Bordetella vaccine cost is well worth it!

Dog Coughing After Drinking Water

Dog coughing after drinking waterHave you noticed your dog coughing or gagging when drinking water? Their throat is clearly irritated, but what’s causing it?

Dogs need to take a big drink after a long walk or an exciting game. If they’re unable to drink properly, they’re at risk of dehydration – which can be very dangerous.

What it means

If your dog starts coughing after drinking water, it means that some irritation or condition is going on inside his throat.

Common causes

The causes of your dog coughing after drinking water may be fairly harmless, like a case of kennel cough or simple excitement.

But if you notice that this keeps happening, these are the possible causes:

  • Tracheal collapse
  • Hypoplastic trachea
  • Blockages in the windpipe
  • Kennel cough

Issues with the trachea are far more complicated because your dog was probably born with a condition.

Brachycephalic (flat-faced) breeds like Pugs, English Bulldogs, and Boston Terriers sure are cute – but they’re prone to unfortunate genetic problems such as tracheal collapse that are caused by overbreeding.

Tracheal collapse

Source

What to do and remedies

Let’s take a look at relevant treatments for each of the causes we’ve mentioned above.

Cause of Dog Coughing After Drinking WaterTreatment
Tracheal collapseAntibiotics and cough suppressants, or stent surgery for long-term improvement.
Blockages in the windpipeConsult with your vet who can carefully remove any blockages by hand or via surgery
Kennel coughAntibiotics and cough suppressants or rest and isolation from other dogs

Conclusion: Now You’re Prepared For Every Type of Dog Coughing!

Remember to consult your vet if you’re unsure of anything to do with your dog coughing – they’ll be able to identify the problem and prescribe the best treatment for your pooch.

One of the most common causes of dog coughing mentioned in this article is kennel cough. Although it’s a mild condition, it’s severely contagious and can be fatal if left untreated or caught by puppies and older dogs.

That’s why it’s so important to vaccinate your fur baby against kennel cough. Talk to your local vet about the bordetella vaccine.