Why Dogs Have Dry Heaves & a Cough

By Mary Lougee

Dogs can cough and have dry heaves for several reasons. It probably is not a cold. The cough may be more pronounced at certain times of the day or night or certain conditions may aggravate your fur buddy. It is important to take note of any other symptoms your dog has and take him to your veterinarian for a checkup and diagnosis.

Kennel Cough

Kennel cough also is called Bordetella. It infects dogs when they inhale bacteria or virus particles in their respiratory tract. The bacteria Bordetella bronchiseptica is the culprit causing kennel cough. It produces a dry cough without any mucous and usually goes away on its own. Veterinary diagnosis is necessary to determine if your pet's hacking is kennel cough or something else.

Distemper Coughs

A dog with a dry cough, a fever of 103 to 105 degrees and yellow, thick discharge from his nose and eyes may be showing signs of distemper. Your dog can acquire this airborne illness from giving infected dog kisses, or by being in close proximity with a doggy friend. Puppy shots include a distemper vaccine to prevent this disease. Your dog should receive a yearly booster shot with his annual checkup from your veterinarian. However, all pet owners do not vaccinate their dogs as they should, so distemper can be a reason for an unproductive dry cough and dry heaving.

Internal Parasites

Another reason for your dog's coughing can be internal parasites. Roundworms live in the habitat of your pet's intestines. Dogs become infected with roundworms from eating or licking soil or objects contaminated with the eggs. Worms travel to the lungs via the bloodstream, crawl up through the windpipe of your pet and are swallowed to mature in the intestines. When coughing due to roundworms, the windpipe is irritated from the larvae in the windpipe. Just the thought of this can make a dog owner cough and gag. This signifies an intense infestation that needs veterinary care. Heartworms also cause a cough with gagging though nothing is produced. The parasites do not allow enough oxygen in the blood to travel between the heart and lungs; exercise increases coughing. This is a serious condition that needs veterinary attention.

Veterinary Diagnosis

Your veterinarian will make a diagnosis as to the cause of your pet's coughing. It usually includes a chest X-ray and washing the trachea with saline solution to acquire cells to examine for a determination and course of treatment to be prescribed. This doesn't hurt your dog in any manner.