Just like humans, dogs sometimes experience a coughing or gagging spell. You don’t have much to worry about if your dog is only coughing periodically and not persistently. It could be caused by a tickle in the throat, or eating and drinking too fast. But as a pet parent, it can be somewhat disturbing when the coughing becomes more frequent or severe- especially when we don’t understand what is causing it. If you notice that your dog is experiencing frequent coughing or gagging uncontrollably, this may be a cause for concern. Take note of the type of sound they are making. If it sounds differently than a normal sporadic cough, it may be a more serious condition taking place.
Some of the causes…
A common cause for consistent canine coughing is kennel cough (AKA: tracheobronchitis.) Highly contagious and quite unfortunate to experience, kennel cough consists of inflammation of the trachea and bronchial tubes. Dogs will undergo frequent coughing and gagging fits that can be difficult and disturbing to observe. Symptoms can vary on a case-by-case basis and range in severity. In severe cases, this condition can progress into a dangerous condition like pneumonia. If you believe your dog may have caught kennel cough, be sure to schedule a visit with the vet. Kennel cough can be treated with antibiotics that will also help ease the uncomfortable side effects.
Chronic bronchitis could be another cause of persistent coughing and gagging. This particular condition can be a bit more difficult to diagnose as it tends to present much like kennel cough. Whereas kennel cough improves over 1 to 3 weeks, chronic bronchitis sticks around for much longer and can be more difficult to treat.
With smaller dogs like Chihuahuas or Pomeranians, a collapsing trachea could be the cause of persistent coughing and gagging. Fortunately, this particular condition is not as gruesome as it sounds and is a result of the trachea lacking the strength to fully bring air into the body.
Canine coughing and gagging can also stem from the presence of yeast or fungi. These particular types of infections are usually brought on by viral contact. Being that dogs are social creatures, infections and viruses can spread amongst them easily. Luckily, these types of illnesses are easily treated with antibiotics or other prescription medications.
In far more serious cases, coughing could be a symptom of a heart condition or lung cancer. These conditions can be ruled out with diagnostic testing from a veterinarian.
What to do…
If your dog is experiencing persistent coughing and gagging, your first step should be to schedule a visit with your veterinarian. The vet can give your canine a proper diagnosis while ruling out any other serious conditions. They will also be able to prescribe a decent medication or remedy to get your beloved friend feeling right again. Be sure to ask your vet about ways to be proactive with vaccines and heartworm prevention to help decrease the chances of a serious condition.
As always, ensure your canine pal gets lots of rest and time to recover in the event of an illness. Help to keep them relaxed and calm to speed up the recovery time. The quicker your furry friend feels better, the sooner you can get back to the happy go lucky furbaby you are used to!