Is Your Dog Coughing? Here Are Some Surprising Causes


Thumbnail of Vetmedin


Heart & Blood Pressure
{{petcare_price|currency}} Price in Cart w/PetPlus {{petplus_price|currency}} See PetPlus Price in Cart

Image Source:

Itโ€™s only natural for you to be concerned when your dog starts making whooping, honking, and hacking sounds. Although the cough maybe something as simple as an allergic reaction or the side effect of inhaling an environmental irritant, it could also be something much much worse. Thatโ€™s why itโ€™s important to be aware of the possibilities. The most common conditions that cause dogs to cough are chronic bronchitis, heart disease, a number of respiratory infections that can be caused by viruses, fungi, or bacteria, and heartworm disease.

Here are a few surprising causes of coughing in dogs:Eating rat poison

Some rat poisons known as anticoagulants prevents the blood from clotting, and leads to bleeding. Although it works pretty well for rats, our dogs can also be affected. Ingesting these dangerous rat poisons can lead to your poor dog bleeding into her lungs to cause coughing. It can even be fatal if you donโ€™t take your dog to the emergency room as soon as possible. He may even end up needing a blood transfusion. Never put out these rat poisons where your dog can easily get to them. Prevention is the best measure.

Inhaling airborne irritants

These irritants can be found anywhere โ€“ even in your home. They include fireplace ash, dust mites, dandruff, dust from the litter tray, mold, second-hand smoke, household sprays, and even deodorants! Dogs have a keener sense of smell than we do. Although these irritants may not bother us, they tend to bother our dogs.


An overweight dog is more at risk of developing numerous health conditions like congestive heart failure and arthritis when compared to other, healthier dogs. The extra weight can also lead to coughing. Some dogs grow to be so obese that the extra fat puts additional pressure on their respiratory tract, leading to coughing. The only plausible solution to this being weight loss.

Inhaling blades of grass

Most dogs are active. They are big fans of the great outdoors and love to run around and just play. Sometimes, a single blade of grass can be the cause of your dogโ€™s coughing. Some types of grass have foxtails or grass awns that can cause the coughing by penetrating through your dogโ€™s skin. It finds its way into the lungs and start doing damage. It can also cause other, more serious health conditions like lung abscesses, pneumonia, pyothorax, pneumothorax etc.

Side effects from certain medications

Just like how humans can have adverse and allergic reactions to some kinds of medications, dogs are also affected by the same. Some medications have coughing has a side effect. Donโ€™t always blame it on medications and disregard his coughing as a mere side effect though. It could just as easily be an indication of heart disease. The safer option is to go to the vet and explore the cause of the problem.

Dog Coughing and What It Might Mean

Dog coughing occurs just like in humans, though it sounds a little different. How do you know if dog coughing is a result or a simple irritation or something more?

Some illnesses that can cause a dog to cough, like kennel cough, usually resolve on their own, but others, like heartworm or heart disease, will require treatment by a veterinarian. Ultimately, your vet will need to diagnose and recommend treatment, so avoid giving your dog any cough suppressants or other medicine unless directed.

How to Recognize Dog Coughing

Dog coughs can sound a lot like sneezes and it can be hard to distinguish between them. If you notice your dog has developed a cough (or sneeze) take notes on the frequency and timing to share with your vet. Details about the cough will help your vet make a diagnosis. Some things to observe include:

  • Dry vs. deep and wet cough
  • When it started and how often it happens
  • If it happens more after eating or during the night
  • Coughing up mucous or blood
  • Any accompanying symptoms, such as eye or nose dischargevomiting, or fainting

Possible Causes of DOG Coughing 

Since coughing can be caused by many different conditions you should contact your vet for a diagnosis. During
examination, vets will usually consider the symptoms, induce a cough, and may even use a bronchoscope to collect throat samples. While your vet may prescribe treatment for the cough itself, it's more important to treat the cause.

Kennel Cough and Upper Respiratory Infections (URIs)
Dogs often catch illnesses from other dogs, particularly when in big groups, like at kennels or dog shows. This kind of cough is usually a dry, hacking cough. Dogs should recover completely within a week or two with rest, and occasionally medication, but are highly contagious while sick.

Inhaling Foreign Bodies
Dogs often inhale seeds or grasses when running in fields. They can also get hairballs. These foreign materials are usually coughed up, but they could get stuck in the throat or lungs leading to infection, choking, or pneumonia, making coughing worse.

Some parasites, such as lungworm and heartworm, can cause persistent coughing and breathing difficulty.

When coughs sound like gurgling, or as if there is fluid in the lungs, it could be a sign of pneumonia, which is potentially life threatening if untreated.

Heart Disease
One common symptom of heart disease in dogs is heavy coughing, particularly at night. This is why a thorough vet exam is so important, to catch serious conditions early on. Heart disease can be treated through weight loss and medications, like Vetmedin for dogs, but early detection is key.

Collapsing Trachea
Toy dog breeds, especially older ones, are at risk of a collapsing trachea. This can be made worse from pulling on a collar, obesity, or frequent bronchitis. This cough almost sounds like a goose honking. Weight loss is usually the first treatment, but veterinary treatment will be needed to keep the problem from getting worse.

Allergies and Asthma
Dogs can also have respiratory allergies or asthma that cause coughing or wheezing attacks.

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

Was this article helpful?

You May Also Like