Dogs cough, just like humans. And, just like humans, chronic coughing due to viruses like kennel cough or irritation due to pollutants in the air keeps your dog from resting, eating, and will cause him to be uncomfortable. Many over the counter cough medications will work for your dog, much like they work for you.
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The most common cough suppressant sold over the counter is dextromethorphan hydrobromide. This drug is sold under many trade names such as Robitussin and Vicks 44. The dosage for dogs should be 1mg per pound. Here's how to figure out how much to give your dog:
If your dog weighs 6.8 Kilogram, the dose should be 15 milligrams of dextromethorphan hydrobromide.
Now, look at the label to determine how many milligrams are in 1ml. The usual concentration is 2mg/ml so the dog above would receive 7.5ml or 1.5 teaspoons. Make sure that you are using the dosing cup that comes with the medication so that you give the right dosage. You can dose the dog up to 4 times per day, but remember that coughing is the body's way of clearing the airway of obstruction and infection. It is better to let the dog cough during the day and give them the cough syrup at night, so you both can sleep.
If your dog has a cough accompanied by a fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting (other than white foamy sputum), or diarrhoea, it is not recommended to give him an over the counter cough suppressant without first seeing a veterinarian. It is possible that your dog has contracted an infection or has another underlying cause that should be treated.
What to Look For
When purchasing an over the counter cough suppressant for your dog, make sure that the only ingredient listed is dextromethorphan hydrobromide. Other human medications can be toxic to dogs and may cause life threatening side effects. Dogs should never be given Tylenol (acetaminophen) or any other medication unless under the direction of a veterinarian.
If your dog seems to be suffering from nasal congestion along with his cough, phone your veterinarian to determine if a combination of dextromethorphan and pseudoephedrine would be OK to give. The pseudoephedrine will help dry up the secretions and may help stop the cough.
The best method for keeping your dog safe from getting kennel cough is to keep him away from other dogs and where other dogs tend to congregate such as dog parks, hiking trails and boarding facilities. If your dog will be exposed to other animals, get him a kennel cough vaccination.
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