A dog visiting a veterinary practice for a coughing examination

Dog coughing: identifying the causes of coughing in dogs

If your dog is coughing often and for a prolonged period of time, you’ll naturally want to know how to get them back to full health as quickly as possible. So, what are the causes of coughing in dogs, and what can you do to help your pet feel better?

If your dog keeps coughing, it could be a symptom of one of these conditions:

Kennel cough 

The most common cause of a dog coughing is kennel cough – also called infectious tracheobronchitis. Kennel cough is a deep, barking and raspy cough that’s highly contagious and easily contracted from other dogs: it’s also easy to prevent – just speak to your vet about a kennel cough vaccination. 

If your dog or puppy has a cough but is otherwise well, the chances are it’s kennel cough, and they will recover within a week or so. As with any symptoms, visit your vet for a diagnosis – especially if the coughing continues.

Other causes of a dog coughing

Your vet may diagnose one of the less common causes of coughing in dogs, which include:

Lung and respiratory tract problems 

Just like us, dogs can suffer from bronchitis, pneumonia and other infections of the airways – even dog flu, which is known as canine influenza. These can quickly be diagnosed and treated by your vet, so your dog doesn’t need to suffer.

A prolonged dog cough can be a symptom of lung cancer, but fortunately this is uncommon. 

Heart disease 

Our furry friends can suffer from heart disease and other heart problems just like we can. Thickened and weakened heart muscle puts pressure on lungs and airways, but your vet can recommend a course of action, which can include medication, a healthy diet and exercise.

Fungal infections

Caused by coming into contact with yeast and other fungi picked up in dirt, stagnant water or through the air. A fever accompanying a cough is often a sign of fungal infections in dogs, but your vet can prescribe medication to help.

Lungworm

Lungworm is a type of parasitic worm that can be serious – even fatal – if untreated. Contracted when a dog eats an infected slug or snail, lungworm is becoming more common in the UK and lives in the heart and blood vessels of an infected dog.

Heartworms

A serious but thankfully relatively rare condition in dogs, heartworms are spread by mosquitos and treated by monthly medication or an injection that lasts six months. 

Distemper

Distemper is a serious and highly contagious virus that’s spread through the air. Like kennel cough, it’s quick and easy to vaccinate against distemper – just be sure to keep your dog or puppy up to date with their booster injections.

“The most common cause of a dog coughing is kennel cough – a deep, barking and raspy cough that’s highly contagious but easy to prevent with a vaccination.” 

What to do if my dog has a persistant cough?

Essentially, coughing can be a symptom of many different conditions. The best action you can take as an owner is to keep an eye on your pet and to consult your vet. They will be able to pinpoint exactly what's wrong, and then to advise you on the right treatment. 

Need advice and help for a coughing dog?

For advice and treatment for a coughing dog, pop them down to your local vet. To find your nearest recommended vet or pet clinic, use our Find a Vet page.

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