Why is My Pet Coughing? Upper Respiratory Infections in Cats and Dogs

Why is My Pet Coughing?
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vet verified PetCareRx Staff Veterinarian DVM

Upper respiratory infections are easily spread and affects both cats and dogs alike. Read on for symptoms and common treatments.

Upper respiratory infections are all too common amongst pets, especially cats and dogs that are coming from shelters, have stayed in a kennel, have frequent visits to groomers, or spend time in other crowded situations. Even a visit to the dog run can result in a URI, which is contagious in a similar way to the common cold. While upper respiratory infections are uncomfortable for your pet, they do not generally have a long term health impact. There is a risk of secondary infections developing, so pay careful attention to your petโ€™s behavior, the duration of the URI, and whether your pet gets a fever.


Upper respiratory infections can spread from cat to cat, and dog to dog, and can also spread through contact with secretions from a pet's eyes, nose, or throat. As well, contact with crates or carriers, food dishes, blankets, or toys can also cause pets to contract upper respiratory infections. URIs are caused by either bacteria or viruses.

Typically, upper respiratory infections develop in crowded spots where itโ€™s easy for bacteria and viruses to spread. Stressed out pets are also more likely to get an upper respiratory infection, since stress weakens the immune system.


Symptoms for upper respiratory infections can include sneezes, discharge from eyes, drooling, difficulty breathing, and congestion. For dogs, the most common upper respiratory infection is kennel cough, which is most obviously identified by a dry, loud, persistent cough. Upper respiratory infections in both cats and dogs can lead to a loss of appetite, so it's important to monitor that your pet is getting sufficient food and water.


The main thrust behind treatment is to attack symptoms, in an effort to make pets comfortable while they recover. There is always a risk of a secondary infection, such as pneumonia, developing, so always pay attention to a fever, extreme lethargy, or any other more serious symptom.

Itโ€™s often best for treatment of upper respiratory infections to occur at home, since URIs are so incredibly contagious. Of course, if you have multiple pets, aim to keep the infected cat or dog isolated so that there is no transference of the bacteria or virus. If secondary infections occur, or if the URI does not clear up quickly, veterinarians may prescribe antibiotics. In general, the best treatment for upper respiratory infections is aimed at making pets comfortable while they ride out the course of the infection, and can include wiping discharge from your petโ€™s eyes, providing tempting meals, and using a humidifier to help their breathing. Rest and a stress-free environment are also important for recovery.

With This One Amazing Trick, You Can Cure Your Dogโ€™s Kennel Cough!

A kennel cough in dogs is characterized by dry cough coupled with frequent and intense gagging. The disease is not life-threatening and usually subsides within a few days. However, it is irritating for both the dog and its owner to endure a constant state of gagging and coughing.Kennel cough has been so named because it is usually found in dogs that have lived in kennels. It is caused by an air borne virus that travels from one dog to the other through aerosol droplets. If your dog has it, then it is possible that he got it from some other dog that was boarded in a kennel.Although kennel cough does not last for long, it is possible for dogs to experience pain and discomfort due to prolonged coughs. In rare case, the disease becomes serious and can cause pneumonia. There are different remedies for treating kennel cough but the best of the lot is a concoction made from commonly found natural ingredients. However, it is also good to keep the vet updated about your dogโ€™s health because home remedies may not work if the situation gets serious.

Garlic, olives and honey

Garlic and olives have antiviral properties and are great ingredients for treating viral diseases. Even for humans, a mixture of garlic and honey works wonders during bad colds and coughs. Honey on the other hand eases the discomfort of coughing and provides temporary relief. Some herbs which have soothing capabilities can be added to the mixture.The mixture should be taken at least twice every day. It can also be mixed with foods if your dog doesnโ€™t want to eat it raw. You can additionally use essential oils from eucalyptus, lavender and tea tree to improving breathing.Another ingredient which can be added to the mixture is a herb called astragalus. It is a Chinese herb and is said to improve the immune system by regenerating bronchial cells.


Kennel cough is irritating to both the dog and its owner especially when it continues for a long time. The disease is caused by an air borne virus and is usually found in dogs who have spent time in kennels. The virus spreads easily and can be contracted by any dog. It can be compared to the common cold in humans. There are lots of remedies available but the best one is a mixture of natural ingredients made from garlic, olives and honey. The results are usually visible in a few days. If the cough persists, take your dog to a trained vet and get him treated before the case becomes too serious. Home remedies work most of the time but not always.

More Possible Causes of Coughing in Pets

Dogs With Kennel Cough
Causes of Asthma in Pets
The Four Stages of Heartworm

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.

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URI (Upper Respiratory Infection)

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