Coughing Dogs

Understanding the Common Causes and Diagnostic Challenges

We frequently see dogs with persistent coughing problems. Identifying the root cause can be quite a challenge, especially when initial treatments like time, anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, and cough suppressants fail to achieve results.

What causes coughing in dogs?

The most common cause behind canine coughing is Canine Infectious Rhinotracheitis, more commonly known as Kennel Cough. This condition can be largely prevented through annual vaccination. 

Coughs may originate from various points along the respiratory tract, including issues with the tonsils and throat, problems in the trachea (windpipe), or even complications within the lungs.

For older dogs, the process of pinpointing the underlying cause or causes of persistent coughing often necessitates multiple tests, numerous visits, and possibly various medical procedures. 

It is important to recognise that coughing can also serve as a symptom of other disease within the body.

Some dogs experience “heart-based” coughs, which can be attributed to poor heart function leading to fluid accumulation in the lungs. Additionally, an enlarged heart can exert pressure on cough reflex areas within the bronchi, resulting in chronic coughing.

Furthermore, throat irritation may arise from various sources, such as dental issues leading to tonsillitis or even the presence of parasites like the Oslerus osleri throat worm. Certain dogs may suffer from lung-related conditions that manifest as persistent coughs, including allergies, infections, obstructive diseases, fluid retention complications, or even cancer.

Which tests might be necessary to determine the cause of coughing?

Based on the clinical evaluation, different testing approaches may be recommended, including trialling treatments, blood tests, ultrasound, and radiographs (x-rays) usually administered under General Anaesthesia.

It is important to note that certain types of coughs, like those associated with a collapsing trachea, might not be curable, but can be effectively managed through appropriate medication.