Illness such as kennel cough and irritants such as dust are the main reasons why a dog may develop a cough. The cough may not be serious and may clear up on its own, or it may the first sign of a more serious health condition. It is worth noting that a dog's cough and sneeze sound remarkably similar. To tell the difference, watch your dog: His mouth stays closed during a sneeze, while it will open during a cough.
Your first thought when you hear your dog cough may be that he is ill. Kennel cough, in particular, is a concern for many dog owners. Also known as bordetella, Bordetella bronchiseptica and canine infectious tracheobronchitis, this infectious disease spreads easily but is rarely fatal. Your dog will probably feel better in a few days, but in the meantime, will be struck with a dry, hacking cough.
When to Worry
Coughing is a perfectly normal protective function. It keeps your dog's airways clear and free of foreign material and accumulated secretions. It can also be the first sign that your dog may have a disease of the respiratory tract. If your homemade remedies don't ease your dog's cough, if his cough worsens or lasts for more than a few days, or if the cough is combined with fever, sudden collapse, vomiting or the presence of blood, make an appointment with your veterinarian.
Soothing the Throat With Honey
Honey commonly serves to treat coughs in humans and animals. Give your dog a half-teaspoon to 1 teaspoon of honey, three to four times a day. Honey will soothe your dog's cough whether it is the result of illness or irritation. In addition to helping the throat feel better, honey has many disinfecting and anti-inflammatory properties that may help your dog feel better, faster.
Coconut oil soothes the throat and helps the body fight off bacteria and viruses. Because it is fatty, coconut oil can upset your dog's digestive tract if you add it to the diet suddenly. The ideal dose is 1 teaspoon for every 10 pounds your dog weighs, divided into two or three daily administrations. Start with a smaller amount, such as a quarter-teaspoon per 10 pounds, and increase the amount gradually until you are up to the suggested dosage.
Herbs and Natural Cough Syrups
Licorice tea can effectively ease your dog's coughing. Add 1 tablespoon of dried licorice root to 2 cups of cold water. Bring the mixture to a boil, then remove from heat. Let the tea stand until the mixture reaches room temperature. Add 1 teaspoon of honey to each tablespoon of licorice tea, and administer 2 tablespoons of the tea to your dog before each meal. If you live near a natural foods or remedy store, you may be able to purchase natural cough syrup for your dog. These mixes typically contain a combination of herbal remedies, such as elder blossom, blackberry leaves, sage leaves and thyme.
If your dog's cough seems related to irritants, you have a few options for reducing future problems. An air cleaner in the home will remove dust particles, helping your dog, and the rest of your family, breathe easier. Don't allow your dog to play in tall grass, as the seed heads are easy to inhale and can lead to irritation.