3 min read


Can Dogs Cough?



3 min read


Can Dogs Cough?


Just like humans, dogs often cough for a wide range of reasons. While your dog's coughing is most likely harmless, it could be a sign that something more serious is going on. Before you jump to conclusions and rush your beloved pup to the nearest emergency vet, it's important to understand why dogs cough and what it could mean. It is easy to assume your dog is sick or choking, but that is not always the case. 

Unlike humans, dogs explore the world with their noses and even their mouths. This means your dog comes in contact with all sorts of different things, including dust, germs, and other particles found in their natural environment. All of these things can make your dog cough, especially if they get a big nose or mouthful! This makes it difficult to decipher whether your dog is simply clearing their throat or if the cough means something more serious is going on. 

In order to help you know when to call the vet and when to give just your dog a gentle pat on the back, let's go over some of the signs your dog's cough elicits concern. 


Signs a Dog's Cough is Serious

One of the first things to keep in mind when trying to determine the severity of your dog's cough is realizing there are several different types of cough. By taking the time to educate yourself about what to look for when your dog coughs, you will be better prepared to identify whether or not there is a problem. 

A good place to start is to ask yourself the following:

  • Does the cough sound deep and dry? Or is it wet and phlegmy?
  • Is your dog making a 'honking' noise when they cough?
  • Does your dog only cough when they are sleeping?
  • Does the cough sound high-pitched? 

Each of these cough symptoms is associated with different problems that could plague your dog. In order for your vet to help you determine if it is serious or not, it is important you are as detailed and descriptive as possible. 

There are many different common problems linked to coughing, including kennel cough, sore throat, lung issues such as pneumonia, tracheal collapse, and heart disease. However, please remember not to panic and that, in many cases, your dog simply has a tickle in their throat! Reverse sneezing is also a very common condition in small breed dogs that is often mistaken for a cough. 

Body Language

Here are some signs your dog has a cough:

  • Scratching
  • Pacing
  • Yawning
  • Lip Licking

Other Signs

These are other signs your dog's cough may be serious:

  • Deep, Wet Coughing
  • Noticeable Phlegm Or Mucous
  • Making Swallowing Motions

History of Dogs Coughing


Dogs have coughed for as long as they've been around. Similar to humans and other animals, there are many different factors that may contribute to your dog coughing. From allergies or a foreign object stuck in their throat to tracheal issues and heart disease, it could indicate any number of things. 

When it comes to determining what is going on, your vet will look at your dog's detailed medical history and also conduct a physical examination. Remember, this is common and something all dogs will probably deal with at one time or another! Try not to panic, but do proceed with caution and make sure your dog is seen by your vet if it seems out of the ordinary.

Science Behind Dogs Coughing


The science behind dogs coughing is pretty straightforward, as you can imagine. There's a good chance there is something irritating their throat, such as a foreign object or allergen. Dogs are complex creatures that often come in contact with things that can make them cough. However, as we've mentioned several times, in many cases a dog's cough is indicative of something more serious. Coughing caused by an irritation in the trachea can occur when the dog is excited or pulling to hard on their collar. 

Coughs are usually categorized as moist and phlegmy or harsh and dry. When your dog's cough is wet-sounding, it may indicate there is a buildup of fluid (water, blood, or pus) in the lungs, trachea, or airways. Dogs that spend more time outdoors - whether it be hunting or sniffing their surroundings for pleasure - may cough because they've inhaled grasses or other foreign materials. 

Training Your Dog Not to Cough


There is no way to train your dog not to cough, it is a natural reaction that is out of their control. However, you can work towards training them to stay out of things that may irritate their system, such as the compost pile or other foreign materials found in your yard. It is important to always keep an eye on your dog and if you think something is seriously wrong, call your vet.

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Safety Tips for When Your Dog Coughs:

  1. Call your vet and explain to them the symptoms your dog is exhibiting.
  2. Separate your dog from other animals (their cough could be contagious).

By a Chihuahua lover Allie Wall

Published: 03/06/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

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