Since your dog cannot tell you how he feels, recognising his symptoms requires careful observation. Observe whether he drinks more than usual, and coughs after drinking or after exercise. If he coughs more at night, this provides an important clue. Your dog's cough may be dry or moist. He may even cough up mucus or blood. Whatever the symptoms, a veterinary consultation provides the first step in your dog's diagnosis and recovery.
Dogs housed close together easily pass airborne bacteria from one animal to the other. The inflamed upper respiratory system leads to a dry cough, sneezing and runny nose. A heavy cough may cause vomiting. Antibiotics, cough suppressants and lots of water will ease irritated airways as will sleep in a warm, draft-free, quiet environment. Steam may loosen mucus. Use a vaporiser with warm water or take your dog into the bathroom, shut the door and let a hot shower run, filling the room with steam. Keep your infected dog away from other dogs, children and rabbits. Even cats can catch kennel cough.
Tracheal Irritation or Collapse
Pulling on his collar may cause tracheal irritation in your dog, or may lead to a more serious condition known as tracheal collapse. Collapse can even occur while drinking water. Tracheal collapse is among the potential causes if your dog's coughing occurs mainly at night and sounds like a goose honk. Small breeds carrying excess weight at middle or advanced age run greater risk of tracheal collapse than larger, younger dogs. Your dog might need to lose weight, and may benefit from cough suppressants and even sedatives.
If your dog begins to cough after exercise or excitement, the cause may be a heart problem. This could mean she has a murmur or an abnormal heart rhythm. Another heart-attacking possibility, heartworm, appears most commonly in places where mosquitoes thrive. Night coughing can indicate heart failure. Coughing may be the result of an enlarged heart putting pressure on the lungs. Your veterinarian will want to perform a number of tests on your dog's heart to be certain.
While an enlarged heart may cause coughing, even heart failure, this can further result in oedema or a fluid build-up. Again, your dog coughs more at night if oedema sets in. Causes of oedema include anaemia, toxins and too little protein in the blood. Other possibilities include an obstruction in the airway, fluid entering the lungs from a near drowning or pneumonia. Blood tests and an x-ray give your veterinarian more information. He may need oxygen, diuretics to drain fluid and lots of rest.
A dog who coughs a lot and drinks plenty of water may suffer from allergies. Examine his exposure to grasses, seeds and dust. Compare the timing of his cough with most recent activities. While a moist cough may point to oedema, Pyothorax disease causes a moist cough when foreign materials enter the lungs, causing a build-up of pus. Another potential cause for a moist cough pertains to lung cancer, when your dog may cough up blood. He will have difficulty breathing, perhaps loss of appetite and lethargy. If your dog coughs while eating, his larynx may not close when eating, thereby allowing food to pass between larynx and trachea.