Why Is My Dog Coughing?


It’s normal for dogs to cough every now and then just as humans do. But when they start to cough on a regular basis with no signs of getting better, it is usually a sign that something is wrong. Your dog needs medical attention. There are many reasons as to why your dog may be coughing that vary in severity. But you’re doing the responsible thing, which is to be aware that it is happening and to be doing the research to find out what you should do about it. 

Why Is My Dog Coughing?

Table of Contents

Possible Reasons Why Your Dog Is Coughing

Generally, there are 3 different types of dog cough that can be categorized by sound, dryness, and productiveness. Knowing what to hear for gives you a great advantage to help you figure out what ailment your dog has. 

Canine dry cough can sound like a honking, gagging, or hacking sound. This kind of cough often sounds like they are trying to cough something up that is stuck in their throat, but nothing ever comes up.

This is because a canine dry cough is usually unproductive. No matter how much the dog coughs, nothing comes up. 

However, if the dry cough is particularly bad and the dog is coughing quite hard it may be enough to produce a bit of white foamy saliva. But it is still considered an unproductive cough. 

A dry cough can be a symptom of the following ailments: sore throat, kennel cough, sore throat, obstruction in the airway, and distemper. 

On the other end of the scale, we have a canine wet cough that sounds like a rattling or gurgling coming from deep within the chest. This kind of cough is productive, meaning that the dog will often cough up mucus or phlegm each time. 

A dog with a wet cough may have one of the following: parasites, heartworms, pneumonia, lung disease, and fungal infections. 

Finally, we have a wheezing cough which can accompany both dry and wet canine coughs. If you hear your dog wheezing it is usually a sign that something is damaging or irritating their lungs. 

A wheezing sound can be indicative of parasites, distemper, heart disease, and heartworm. 

Since we have gone over the different types of coughs in dogs and what they may be signs of, we will now go into the different diseases that may be causing it. 

Common Cold

It may be surprising to some people, but dogs can get colds as we do. Usually it should only last a few days.

The symptoms of a common cold in dogs are relatively similar to ours in that they will exhibit a runny nose, a lack of appetite, sneezing, lethargy, and wheezing which can sound like a cough. 

To treat the common cold in dogs they will require a lot of rest so that their body has enough energy to fight off the infection. You should also provide them with warm hearty meals, such as plain boiled chicken with a little bit of rice to bulk it out. 

Giving them plenty of fluids is important. Keep them hydrated and making the nasal fluid thinner so that the dog can breathe more easily. You can even try coconut water to entice them.

If your dog has a cold, it is a good idea to keep them away from any other dogs. They can pass the cold between them and before you know it you’ll have multiple snotty dogs.

Also, keep in mind that when a dog is fighting a cold, its immune system is more susceptible to other illnesses that another dog may pass onto them. 

If the symptoms don’t go away after a week or the dog is showing signs of getting worse, it is important that you take them to the vet. They can rule out anything more sinister. 

Why Is My Dog Coughing?


This is another thing that dogs and humans have in common, and dogs will show a lot of the same symptoms of being allergic to something as we do. 

As well as coughing, other signs that a dog is struggling with allergies are wheezing, sneezing, and eye discharge. The allergy may also be making their skin irritated which will cause them to itch and bite themselves which will show up as baldness or redness. 

Your dog could be allergic to pollen, dust, cleaning supplies, or additives in their food, and many other things but if you take them to the vet, they can run some simple tests to help rule out what they could be allergic to.

Allergies are usually treated by the medication or a special diet that your dog will likely have to be on for the rest of their life unless their body becomes tolerant or if the allergen is removed from the environment. 

Canine Influenza

This sounds scary but it is pretty much the equivalent of the flu in humans. This condition makes the dog cough because of an infection in their respiratory system that can linger from 10 to 30 days.

Other symptoms consist of a runny nose, lethargy, fever, lack of appetite, and eye discharge. But not all dogs will show every symptom. 

Canine influenza can be unpredictable. Some dogs will show little to no symptoms. Others can get really ill and develop pneumonia and sometimes death in severe cases.

However, the percentage of dogs with canine influenza that dies is very small. But it is still vital that you spot any signs that they may show and get treatment. 

If you suspect your dog has this ailment no matter how minor, you should take them to the vet to get fully checked out and prescribed antibiotics.

If you have other pets that live with you, they should be kept away from the infected dog until they have fully recovered. Canine influenza is transmissible between them but fortunately you cannot get it from them. 

Canine Influenza


Sadly, this is another common condition that may be causing your dog to cough. Pneumonia is the inflammation of the lungs. It can be caused by bacteria, distemper, canine influenza, difficulties swallowing, and certain metabolic disorders. 

If your dog has pneumonia, their cough will sound quite wet and soft. They will also likely have a high fever, low energy, and poor appetite. 

To treat pneumonia, you must take your dog to the vet as soon as you can. Get them some prescribed medicine. They will also need lots of rest and fluids. In some more severe cases, they may have to stay in a hospital for a few days to get over the worst of it. 

Heart Problems

Some heart problems such as congestive heart failure and heart disease can cause fluid to build up in the lungs. This can cause a persistent cough in your dog, especially when they are lying down or at night. 

Along with a cough, symptoms of congestive heart failure consist of difficulty with breathing and exercising, lethargy, and fainting. 

If heart disease is not treated, the excess fluid can build up in the belly and cause it to swell.

Your dog may also faint due to the blood flow to the brain being blocked. So it is very important that you take your dog to the vet right as you suspect heart problems. It soon becomes a race against time. 

Another condition that can affect the heart and cause coughing is heartworm disease. If not treated, this can cause lasting damage to the dog’s heart, arteries, and lungs. The effects can be very detrimental to their quality of life in the long run. 

With heartworm disease, it can vary in dogs with how many symptoms they show. But either way, it is just as serious, and they should be seen by a vet.

Heartworm disease is one of the things that can cause heart failure. This can present itself as a swollen belly, but other symptoms include low energy, reduced appetite, weight loss, and of course a persistent cough. 

Why Is My Dog Coughing?

Tracheal Collapse

This is a condition where the trachea or windpipe becomes floppy and soft. It mostly affects toy breeds such as pugs and chihuahuas as their tracheas are not as strong. 

If your dog has this condition, their cough will be a dry, hacking one that is done in irregular bursts.

When they are experiencing an episode, it will take a long time to calm them down as they are essentially fighting to breathe. 

If they pull while on the lead attached to a collar around their throat, their coughing will usually get worse.

The coughing will also be worse in dogs that are obese. They have more pressure around their throat, especially when they are hot or excited. 

You can tell if the trachea has collapsed completely if the cough sounds asthmatic. Most dogs with tracheal collapse also have heart disease or bronchitis so the characteristics of their cough can vary. 

To treat tracheal collapse, your dog must be brought to a vet. They can get medicines such as cough suppressants, steroids, antibiotics, and bronchodilators.

If your dog is overweight then the vet will also put them on a weight loss plan. However, if your dog has a particularly severe case the vet might recommend surgery to repair the trachea. 


To summarize, there are many different reasons as to why your dog is coughing. But if you are able to hear the different types of coughing and pair it with other symptoms, you will have a much better idea of what your dog is struggling with. 

This is important as you can use the information to rely to your vet. This can save a lot of time with diagnosing and testing, allowing you to get your dog treated as soon as possible. 


How do I know if my dogs cough is serious?

If your dog’s cough appears to be persistent, severe, or is accompanied by alarming discharge (like phlegm or blood), see a vet.

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