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Coughing Dog

Is it kennel cough, bronchitis, tracheal collapse, pneumonia, heartworms, lungworms-what?

Coughing: My dog has been coughing & extremely lethargic for about 4 days now. The only thing I can think of that may have happened is that she ate some old, cooked chicken wing bones about 2 weeks ago. Could this be the issue? What would cause her to cough & lose all energy?  

Many things can cause a dog to cough. Like people, dogs are sometimes affected by environmental conditions such as pollen or certain grasses, household dust and other irritants. For a dog to be lethargic and coughing for many days though, is cause for concern and not to be taken lightly.

Since your dog ate chicken bones, she may have one splintered in her esophagus, which is serious. Depending on her age, she may have heartworms. If she has recently been around other dogs or kenneled, she could have kennel cough. Whatever the cause, you should not delay in having her checked out thoroughly by your vet to eliminate any of these possibilities. Please do not allow your dog to suffer by denying her prompt medical attention.

How to Help Your Dog

Reinstate your dogs intestinal tract with friendly bacteria using Probiotics. Probiotic bacterial cultures are intended to assist the body's naturally occurring gut flora to reestablish themselves. They are sometimes recommended by doctors, and more frequently, by nutritionists, after a course of antibiotics or as part of the treatment for gut related candidiasis.

Some veterinarians treat Bordetella with antibiotics. However, antibiotics do not effect viruses. Some veterinarians may suggest using some sort of cough remedy like *Robitussin. Do not use any medicines containing acetaminophen or caffeine for dogs. Probiotics can usually be found in any health food store.

Plain yogurt, is beneficial in recolonizing the gut flora after a round of antibiotics. Make sure the label says either "active cultures" or "lactobacilius", otherwise it is only a good tasting treat. 

If you cannot locate a store which sells Probiotics, then Echinacea (an herb) may be more readily found. Echinacea angustifolia rhizome, was used by North American Plains Indians, perhaps more than most other plants, for various herbal remedies.

Echinacea was one of the basic antimicrobial herbs of eclectic medicine in the mid 1800s through the early 1900s and its use was documented for snakebite and anthrax. In the 1930s "Echinacea" became popular in both Europe and America as a herbal medicine. Echinacea has been popularly attributed with the ability to boost the body's immune system and ward off infections, particularly the common cold. Chicken soup is another food which will help boost your dogs immune system. 

Natural Treatment of Kennel Cough

There are other natural ways to help your dog feel better, speed up their recovery and prevent future infections.  Raw honey is a great natural treatment that helps soothe the throat. Notice I specified 'raw' honey. Unless it says raw on the label, you are only buying a sugared down version of the real thing and it is worthless. Raw honey has disinfecting, antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antifungal and antiseptic properties.

An average sized dog can be given 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of honey three to four times a day. Your dog may lick it off the spoon but if not, you can offer it on a slice of bread or even a slice of cheese. What dog doesn't love cheese? One of our dogs will not take honey at all so what I do with him is wait till he he is settled down and then I take a teaspoon full and put it on the front part of his leg so he can easily lick it off, which he does every time. Don't put too much at once or it will make a big mess.

Researchers have stated that local honey is best for both humans and animals since they are most likely already acclimated to the environment, thus reducing the chances of an allergy attack. Clover and flowers differ in parts of the world but darker honey is said to have more antioxidant properties than the lighter type.

Coconut Oil is also a multi-purpose infection fighter that contains medium-chain fatty acids that kill harmful bacteria, yeast, fungi, viruses and parasites. One teaspoon of coconut oil per 10 pounds of body weight per day is suggested but begin with a half teaspoon to see if your dog will tolerate this well. The coconut oil may produce loose, greasy stools or fatigue if given in too high of a dosage so be careful as you do not want to upset your dog's system. You may mix honey and coconut oil together and treat for kennel cough.

The Most Common Causes of a Cough

Bronchitis - Canine bronchitis is inflammation of the bronchial tubes, usually as a complication of an infection of the respiratory system, diseases like distemper, pneumonia, or as a consequence of exposure to extreme cold. May also occur as a result of a dog being in water for prolonged periods and not thoroughly dried off afterward. Breathing in irritating gases or continuous exposure to irritating fumes are other causes of bronchitis.

Signs to watch for are variable coughs, often coarse, sudden and uncontrollable, especially after a long night's rest and gasping and crackly breathing. Older dogs are more likely to suffer chronic bronchitis, which frequently coincides with vascular insufficiency. The difficulties breathing and their coughs are distressing. They will also often vomit with a lot of mucus, alone or with abundant nasal secretion. Any change of room temperature can provoke a cough outburst. Keep your dog warm, especially the chest and back. It is important that he is under veterinarian treatment, due to the possibility of vascular repercussions.

Kennel cough - A highly contagious infection of your dog’s upper respiratory system. It can be caused by viral or bacterial infections, such as: Canine distemper, Canine adeg to dog but doesn’t seem to pose any health risks to humans or cats. While kennel cough is highnovirus, Canine Parainfluenza virus, Bordetella bronchiseptica. Kennel cough (or tracheobronchitis) is extremely common and is easily spread through the air from doly contagious, it is rarely deadly but it can be very annoying to both you and your dog.

Tracheal collapse - Tracheal collapse is a common cause of airway obstruction in dogs. The trachea, or “windpipe,” is a tube made up of sturdy rings of cartilage through which air is transported to and from the lungs. Sometimes, however, the tracheal rings begin to collapse, and as air is squeezed through, a characteristic honking cough results.

Dog owners can help relieve signs by keeping their pet’s weight down, switching from a collar to a chest harness, and avoiding respiratory irritants.

Pneumonia - Canine influenza can lead to pneumonia. Influenza is a highly contagious respiratory infection of dogs that is caused by a virus. The canine influenza virus is closely related to the virus that causes equine influenza and it is thought that the equine influenza virus mutated to produce the canine influenza virus. Two clinical syndromes have been seen in dogs infected with the canine influenza virus—a mild form of the disease and a more severe form that is accompanied by pneumonia.

About the mild form—Dogs suffering with the mild form of canine influenza develop a soft, moist cough that persists for 10 to 30 days. Some dogs have a dry cough similar to the "kennel cough" caused by Bordetella bronchiseptica/parainfluenza virus complex. For this reason, canine influenza virus infections are frequently mistaken for "kennel cough." Dogs with the mild form of influenza may also have a thick nasal discharge, which is usually caused by a secondary bacterial infection.

About the severe form—Dogs with the severe form of canine influenza develop high fevers (104F to 106F) and have clinical signs of pneumonia, such as increased respiratory rates and effort. Pneumonia may be due to a secondary bacterial infection.

Because this is a newly emerging disease, almost all dogs, regardless of breed or age, are susceptible to infection and have no immunity. Virtually all dogs that are exposed to the virus become infected and nearly 80% show clinical signs of disease. Fortunately, most affected dogs have the mild form.

Heartworms - The only way to detect heartworm disease in its early states in through a blood test. Canine heartworm disease [also called dirofilariasis (dir-oh-filla-RYE-uh-sis) is a serious and potentially fatal disease of dogs. Long white worms, technically known as Dirofilaria immitis (dir-oh-fill-AY-riah im-MIGHT-iss), are the cause. Adult worms, which reach a length of 6 to 14 inches, live in the right side of the heart in the adjacent large blood vessels. A dog may have several hundred of them in its system, although the number is usually much less. For more heartworm related information see: Heartworm Treatment

Lungworms - Lungworms are parasitic round worms that may be found in the lungs and airways of their hosts. Dogs with severe lungworm infection may have difficulty breathing and may cough, especially after periods of intense activity. They may also be weak, thin, and have matted, dull hair. Dogs with lungworms can be treated with a dewormer.

K-State Veterinarians Help Dog Owners Diagnose Coughs

MANHATTAN -- Dogs may cough as they drag you down the street with their leash, when they become excited and even when they're sleeping.

"Dogs cough occasionally, just like humans, but persistent or frequent coughing isn't normal," said Susan Nelson, assistant professor at the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at Kansas State University.

"Coughs are symptoms telling owners that something is wrong with the dog's windpipe and/or lungs," said William Fortney, assistant professor of diagnostic medicine/pathobiology at K-State.

When your dog coughs, it is using a protective mechanism by trying to expel an offending material or increased mucus or phlegm that is produced by the inflamed lung or windpipe, Fortney said.

The cough may be intermittent or almost constant. Coughs can be mild or severe and cause a gagging or vomiting reflex at the end of a coughing fit. They can be productive by dislodging mucus or nonproductive when nothing is dislodged.

"Dogs contract coughs from infections, including fungi, airborne viruses and bacteria and certain parasites, such as heartworms, parasite migration through the lungs, asthma and bronchitis," Nelson said.

Allergies, heart conditions, wind pipe disease, tumors or cancers of the lungs and inhalation from foreign particles, such as cigarette smoke, also can lead to a cough.

Depending on the cause of the cough, it can last from hours to days or it can be a lifelong problem. If your dog's cough lasts for more than five days, you should be concerned, Fortney said.

Coughs also can be seasonal, especially if the cough is a result of allergies, Nelson said. Infectious agents, viruses and bacterium tend to occur more in the fall and winter months, but not always, Fortney said.

"If the cough is caused by infections, some dogs get over them on their own when their immunity kicks in," Fortney said. "Other pets require antibiotics, heartworm treatments, allergy medication or occasional surgery to remove a tumor. Cough medicine may help in some mild cases."

Nelson and Fortney recommend taking your coughing dog to the veterinarian for an exam. The veterinarian will perform tests to determine the actual cause of the cough and find the best treatment plan for your dog.

Coughing: My 1 1/2 year old chocolate Lab has a loud, productive cough. It almost sounds like bronchitis. He doesn't cough all the time, only when he is excited. This just started 3 days ago and I would like to know if you have any ideas what it might be.

  • Persistent, hacking cough

  • Sounds as if he has a bone lodged in his throat

  • Retches after coughing, producing a white, foamy discharge

  • Gags when highly excited

If your dog displays any of the above symptoms, he may have what is known as "kennel cough". Kennel cough is a misnomer since the majority of dogs afflicted have not been in kennels at all but have been exposed to other dogs carrying the organisms which cause tracheobronchitis. The cough is brought on by an inflammation of the trachea (windpipe) and bronchi (the air passages to the lungs).

Some dogs also develop conjunctivitis ("pink eye"), rhinitis (inflamed nasal mucous membrane), and a nasal discharge. A rough estimation is that 80 to 90% of the cases of kennel cough are usually caused by the bacteria, Bordetella bronchiseptica. The other 10 to 20% of cases are caused by a variety of other infectious agents, most of them viral. Kennel cough has been associated with Para influenza virus, adenovirus and canine distemper virus as well as the Bordetella bacteria.

The virus is fairly contagious so if one dog has it, chances are all the others in the household will quickly become infected. In some dogs it can lead to pneumonia. The incubation period from the time a dog is exposed until clinical signs appear varies depending on which infectious agent is the cause. In general it appears to be about 3 to 5 days with Bordetella.

Most cases of kennel cough are not serious, and will run the course on their own within two weeks. Some vets feel that it is best not to use antibiotics since it is almost always self limiting and the organism is a normal inhabitant of the upper airways. Treating with antibiotics could lead to resistance problems and the most serious complication like pneumonia, would be difficult to treat if it occurred.

The uncomplicated form of the disease usually lasts for approximately ten days. Complicated kennel cough, usually a combination of virus and bacteria, should always be treated with antibiotics and may last 14-20 days.

In mild cases, dogs will be alert and continue to eat normally. In more severe cases, a dog can become feverish, depressed, lethargic, expel a thick yellow or green nasal discharge, and possibly even develop pneumonia. Some very severe cases are fatal.

If your dog has the uncomplicated form of kennel cough, your main objective would be to make him as comfortable as possible so he can give his esophagus a rest. Too much coughing and gagging could result in him spitting up small amounts of blood as a result of the constant irritation. To avoid this, a cough suppressant can be used.

A children's cough suppressant is best, along with a CHILD'S dosage. Do not administer an adult dosage for your dog nor use adult medication. If you suspect your dog has kennel cough, keep all food, water bowls, and toys separate from your healthy dogs.

Additionally, some pathogens that cause kennel cough can be transmitted from dog to dog via fomites (inanimate objects that carry disease-causing germs that spread infections. Fomites are one of the most common ways that kids get sick...dogs too!). After having contact with the infected dog, wash yourself and your clothes, and disinfect your shoes before coming into contact with your healthy dogs.

Dog Coughing Up Blood

Coughing Blood: Why is my dog coughing up blood? Since we do not know the age of your dog nor it's present health condition, we can only share information general to your question.

Is he coughing steadily or does it seem as if he was coughing to dislodge an object he swallowed and now he's stopped? When was he last checked for heart worms? Has he gotten into any poisons that you are aware of such as ant poison or anything sprayed on the yard? Could he have been hit by a car? (bruised badly) or possibly kicked?

These questions need to be addressed before a more accurate assessment of his condition can take place. However, if he is coughing up a lot of blood, not just trace amounts in his phlegm, then you need to seek prompt medical attention for your dog by a qualified veterinarian who can properly diagnose your dog's ailment.

Your dogs’ overall health history, potential exposure to poisons, and heartworm status will be very important to their assessment. Pulmonary vascular disease associated with arterial blood clots may result in the coughing of blood, a condition termed Hemoptysis, which is fairly uncommon.

Dogs with hyperadrenocorticism, pancreatitis, immune mediated hemolytic anemia or heartworm disease are at increased risk for pulmonary thromboembolism that may cause bloody fluid or frank blood to exude into the airways. Dogs with lung cancer, systemic bleeding tendency, or severe inflammatory diseases may also cough up blood.