What Can I Give My Dog for a Sore Throat?

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If your dog is not acting like themself, a sore throat might be to blame. Dog throat infection symptoms can show up in various ways, like trouble swallowing or coughing. It's troubling when you find yourself worried and wondering if your pet has a respiratory tract infection or a foreign object in their throat. Since causes of a sore throat vary, contact your veterinarian when you suspect that your pet is suffering from this ailment.


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Can dogs get sore throats?

Yes, dogs can get sore throats (tonsillitis.)‌ Just like humans, dogs have tonsils at the back of the throat. Tonsils are essentially lymph nodes, and they are involved with fighting infection. A dog's tonsils can become inflamed (tonsillitis) for a variety of reasons. Viruses, bacteria, irritants, and dental disease can all cause tonsillitis. If your dog barks a lot, that can also cause a sore throat.


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Dog irritated throat symptoms

Contact your veterinarian if your dog displays any of these symptoms:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Repeatedly extending their head and neck forward
  • Lethargy
  • Drooling, with or without blood
  • Bad breath
  • Pacing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Hacking cough or gagging
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Head shaking


Pay close attention to your dog's symptoms and behaviors so you can give your veterinarian all of the information needed to make a diagnosis. If your dog has recently been barking too much, let your veterinarian know that too. They will do an exam to look for the cause and prescribe proper treatment and procedures. When they look in your dog's mouth, your dog's throat or tonsils may appear red and inflamed, and mucus may be draining down the throat.


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Dog sore throat: causes and conditions

Infections and chronic coughing are frequent causes of a sore throat. Some of the common infectious reasons are:


  • Bordetella bacterial infection and parainfluenza viral infection, which are two of the causes of kennel cough. With this condition, dogs develop a hacking, gagging cough.
  • Canine influenza.
  • Canine distemper.

Other bacterial or viral infections can also result in a sore throat, but the bacterium that causes strep throat in humans does not cause tonsillitis in dogs.


Other causes of tonsillitis are:


  • Chronic infections in the mouth associated with tartar buildup.
  • If your dog has an anal gland infection and licks at it, their throat could develop an infection.
  • An irritant or foreign body lodged in the throat can also be the culprit.
  • Dogs who pull on their leash may have more throat soreness since collars put pressure on the neck. A harness is safer than clipping your dog's leash to their collar. Unlike collars, harnesses take pressure off the trachea, which can help prevent throat injuries and soreness in your canine.
  • Excessive barking.
  • Dogs who have a chronic cough due to tracheal collapse might also develop a sore throat. This genetic condition usually occurs in small dogs, like Yorkies. It causes a honking cough that can become severe in some cases.


How to treat a dog's sore throat

The most effective treatment of a sore throat is to treat the cause.

  • Tartar buildup:‌ Tartar may lead to a throat-irritating infection. A dental cleaning and anti-inflammatory medications might be recommended along with antibiotics.
  • Kennel cough:‌ This infection can cause a sore throat but typically does not require veterinary intervention. The condition can be prevented with regular Bordetella and parainfluenza vaccinations. In addition, your veterinarian may recommend at-home remedies, like using a humidifier or nebulizer to help your dog feel more comfortable.
  • Tracheal collapse:‌ Prescription cough suppressants, anti-inflammatories, and bronchodilators.
  • If the cause is unknown:‌ Antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medication are often effective ways to treat the symptoms.


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Dog throat irritation home remedies

You can provide relief for your dog's throat infection symptoms by feeding them canned food with added water to soothe their throat and keep them hydrated. A little honey, which has natural antibiotic properties, may help the underlying condition and soothe a sore throat. Give your dog 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of honey three to four times per day to help with infected throat symptoms.


Coconut oil also shows infection-fighting properties that may help treat the underlying cause of the sore throat, but it may cause your dog to develop loose stools. Feeding up to a half teaspoon of coconut oil per 10 pounds of body weight per day may help fight infections. Honey and coconut oil may be administered together. Do not give your dog coconut oil if your dog has a history of pancreatitis or if they are a breed prone to pancreatitis (miniature schnauzer, Yorkshire terrier, dachshund, cocker spaniel, or poodle). If your dog is diabetic, do not give them honey.

Herbal remedies may also help relieve a cough. Teas or cough syrups that contain ingredients like licorice, sage leaves, slippery elm, and rose hips may help reduce coughing and can help a sore throat. However, always contact your veterinarian before giving these or any other home remedies. Some cough syrups have ingredients like acetaminophen, which can be toxic to dogs. Dogs with heart disease should not get over-the-counter cough medicine.

The bottom line

Pet owners who notice their dog coughing, having difficulty swallowing, or drooling should have their pet examined by a veterinarian for a possible sore throat or tonsillitis. Respiratory infections (like kennel cough) and dental disease are common causes of a sore throat in dogs. Sometimes, natural remedies like honey can help tonsillitis, but oftentimes, your dog's immune system may need more help. Antibiotics, a dental cleaning, or other treatments from your DVM might be needed.


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