Antitussives for Coughing in Dogs

Updated November 21, 2016

Veterinarians often give antitussive medications to dogs that suffer from conditions that cause severe or intense coughing. These medications work by suppressing the cough centres that are located in the dog's brain. The type of antitussive medication that is prescribed for your dog may depend on the cause of the coughing.


Codeine is an antitussive medication that may be prescribed for dogs that experience intense bouts of coughing. Coughing in dogs may be characterised by hacking, wheezing or gagging, and may sound wet. Coughing in dogs may be chronic or intermittent and often becomes worse as the dog's throat becomes dry. Codeine phosphate and codeine sulphate are found in many cough syrups for dogs, as well as humans. Codeine is as effective as morphine in reducing the cough reflex in dogs, and has less side effects. Some side effects that may be noticeable in dogs that are taking codeine for coughing are excitement, muscle spasms, constipation, sedation, convulsions and respiratory depression. Codeine may be addictive, but does have less potential for abuse than morphine.


Hydrocodone is an antitussive medication that many veterinarians prescribe for coughing in dogs. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, this medication has a lower potential for abuse than morphine because it is combined with an anticholinergic drug to discourage abuse. Hydrocodone is very similar to codeine and may be helpful in reducing coughing in dogs. It can depress the respiratory system and should be used with caution in dogs with conditions such as asthma or pneumonia.


Dextromethorphan is an antitussive medication that is not considered an opiate like codeine and hydrocodone; however, it is derived from an opiate. Dextromethorphan is not addictive and is safe for use in dogs with bronchitis or kennel cough. This medication is a good choice for dogs with kennel cough or pneumonia because it does not depress the respiratory system as much as opiate medications. According to, coughing may be treated with an over-the-counter children's cough syrup that contains the antitussive dextromethorphan.

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Tracy Hodge has been a professional writer since 2007. She currently writes content for various websites, specializing in health and fitness. Hodge also does ghostwriting projects for books, as well as poetry pieces. She has studied nutrition extensively, especially bodybuilding diets and nutritional supplements.