It's not uncommon for your dog to cough when his throat, lungs, or breathing passages are irritated. Just like when humans cough, the sound can be a simple clearing of the throat. You might find dog coughing relief in a soothing home remedy, but if your dog's frequent coughing doesn't clear up, a trip to the vet is in order.
Notice the common canine cough
The vast majority of dog coughs are nothing to worry about. Dogs explore their world through their sense of smell, so it's not uncommon for your dog to clear her throat after breathing in dust, grass, or other particles, according to the American Kennel Club. It's also natural for your dog to do this to expel any food she swallowed wrong or to clear her passageways from smoke or grit carried on the wind.
A dog's normal cough can range from simple gagging, a short series of coughs, or even a dramatic reverse sneeze — a sometimes startling honking series of rapid, deep inhalations, usually made with the nose stretched straight out from the body and ears flattened to the head, explains Elwood Vet.
The first step in determining a dog coughing treatment is to figure out whether the cough is anything to be concerned about. Notice what your dog is doing when she begins to cough. If she's been sniffing in the dirt or just ate a bowl of food, chances are the cough will pass without any need for a canine cough suppressant.
Check for signs of illness
If your dog's cough persists, you can try a home remedy to soothe his throat or airways. If your dog is otherwise operating at his normal energy level and eating, drinking, and eliminating waste normally, offering water or home remedies for dog cough are in order.
- Deep, dry cough — This could be a sign of bronchitis or other respiratory illness such as canine influenza or kennel cough. Nasal discharge, fever, listlessness, vomiting, diarrhea, or other signs of illness often accompany viral coughing.
- High-pitched gagging — Such a sound could indicate that your dog has something lodged in her airway, making it difficult to breathe, or that something is irritating her upper respiratory tract. See a vet immediately if this persists for a few minutes as something stuck in her breathing passages could be fatal.
- Deep, wet cough — Gargling sounds during a cough can indicate the presence of phlegm or fluid deep in your dog's lungs. One telltale sign of a serious cough is labored breathing even when your dog isn't coughing. Valley fever, heart problems, heartworm, and other conditions can cause fluid to collect around your dog's lungs.
- Severe cough with difficulty breathing — This is an emergency and requires immediate veterinary care, says the Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.
Dog coughing treatment
Making sure your dog has fresh, clean water is the first and most important dog coughing treatment. Your dog may be dehydrated. An easy way to tell whether this is the source of your dog's cough is to test skin elasticity, according to the AKC. Pick up a fold of skin between your dog's shoulder blades.
If he's dehydrated, the skin will wilt slowly back to the shoulder blades instead of snapping back into place as it does in a well-hydrated animal. Checking to see if your dog's gums are sticky is another way to suss out dehydration.
Make a homemade dog coughing relief syrup from one teaspoon honey and one teaspoon coconut oil recommends Pet Supply Plus. Check with your vet before administering this or any other home remedies. For example, diabetic dogs or those with pancreatitis could be more harmed by this remedy than helped.
Another dog coughing cure, per Dogster Magazine, is to include a few drops of oregano oil mixed in with a carrier oil and drizzled on your dog's food. Oil of oregano kills fungus and bacteria that can cause coughing, but don't overdo it — oil of oregano is a "hot" oil that will severely irritate the mucous passages when administered undiluted or in larger quantities.
- American Kennel Club: Dog Coughing Causes and Treatment
- Elwood Vet: Reverse Sneezing
- Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine: Coughing
- American Kennel Club: Warning Signs of Dehydration in Dogs
- Dogster: Oregano Oil for Dogs, What to Know
- Pet Supply Plus: Home Remedies for the Cough and How to Stop Cough (Dogs)