Dog cough, understanding the causes

As you would expect from humans, dogs tend to cough for many different reasons. In fact, the underlying causes of dog cough are too diverse to describe comprehensively but some of the more common factors known to cause dog cough include internal parasites, heartworm, distemper, fungal infections, allergies, tuberculosis, and even second hand cigarette or cigar smoke. In addition to the causes for cough, there are also several types of dog coughs. A dog’s cough may be phlemgy or dry, may sound like gagging, or may be more like wheezing. Moreover, depending on the cause of the cough you can expect a dog cough to vary in frequency from chronic to intermittent. Typically speaking, a dog’s cough will get progressively worse if left untreated as the cough itself causes dryness in the respiratory tract and therefore more coughing.

Kennel Cough Inflammation of the trachea and bronchus leads to a high, dry cough in dogs most often known as kennel cough. Dogs suffering from kennel cough will usually have few other symptoms in addition to the cough and the illness will usually pass within a couple of weeks. Fortunately, the major problem with kennel cough is the annoyance it causes to other family members who have to listen to a dry and persistent cough. Usually, veterinarians will take a very conservative approach to treating kennel cough as it is not life threatening. Nonetheless, your veterinarian will probably recommend that you isolate sick pets from healthy ones in order to prevent the spread of the infection. It is also important to maintain a comfortable temperature for a dog with kennel cough and to ensure that your dog is able to get plenty of rest. In very severe cases you may want to try administering children’s cough syrup to alleviate your dog’s cough.

In puppies and certain toy breeds, kennel cough can cause more serious problems and even lead to pneumonia. For this reason, it is always advisable to have your dog tended to by a veterinarian if it is suffering from a cough. There are vaccines for certain strains of kennel cough that should be considered especially if your dog will be in frequent contact with other dogs.

Distemper While most dogs are vaccinated against distemper when they are puppies this disease can still pose a significant risk for dogs that are not vaccinated or for puppies that are too young to have been vaccinated. Ideally, you should limit your puppy’s contact with strange dogs for at least the first 14-16 weeks of life to ensure that your puppy is properly vaccinated.

For dog’s that have developed distemper there are several key indicators. First of all, for most healthy dogs that are properly cared for the symptoms of distemper can be quite mild. On the contrary, unhealthy or immune-compromised dogs will likely show more severe symptoms. On the extreme, distemper can be fatal and secondary infections are not uncommon. Usually, distemper is associated with a distinct and dry cough at the beginning of the disease. Your dog will also usually suffer from a fever and will probably have a yellow discharge from the nose and tear ducts. If you notice these symptoms it is important for you to take your dog to the veterinarian immediately. Because distemper can be treated by vaccination it is not a major concern of most dog owners. Only puppy owners really need to be concerned about protecting their dogs from distemper. Also, if your dog has not been vaccinated it is important to do so as soon as possible.

Parasites Many internal parasites, like heartworms and roundworms, can cause a dog cough. Roundworms, for example, take up residence in your dog’s intestinal tract. From here, eggs develop and hatch and the worms can infiltrate other internal organs like the lungs thereby causing coughing. Puppies of infected mothers can be born with roundworms and is therefore a common concern for puppies with a cough.

In the case of heartworm, a dog cough signifies a much more serious problem. Dogs get infected with heartworms through mosquito bites and eventually these heartworms travel through the blood to infest the lungs. This process usually takes about 6 months and one of the first symptoms of adult heartworms in the lungs is a dog cough. Unfortunately, the coughing symptoms of heartworm can be particularly debilitating for dogs as they become completely incapable of engaging in light exercise without coughing. Medical treatment is always indicated for heartworms.

Conclusions The diverse array of causes for dog coughs can make it difficult to decide whether the cough is a serious problem or not. Tuberculosis is a particularly deadly infection that causes coughing in dogs and that can be passed between dogs and humans. As such, it is always important to address your dog’s cough by a visit to the veterinarian.