When Should You Worry About Your Pet’s Cough?

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pet's cought

As an observer of your hirsute companion’s respiratory disturbances, have you ever pondered whether there’s cause for concern? Similar to humans, pets can exhibit an assortment of coughs, and not all of them require immediate attention. In the ensuing paragraphs, we’ll scrutinize a variety of pet’s cough, their typical origins, and when it’s appropriate to raise the alarm.

Comprehending Cough Typologies

Before we delve into the causalities and red flags, it’s imperative to comprehend the diverse categories of coughs your furry friend might suffer from.

Arid Cough

An arid cough has a grating sound and is typically ineffectual, meaning there’s no expulsion of phlegm or mucus. An irritable or inflamed airway could be the cause of this type of cough.

Damp Cough

A damp cough is typified by the secretion of phlegm or mucus. It could indicate the presence of lung fluid or an infection.

Honking cough

A honking cough has a distinctive goose-like sound and is often associated with tracheal collapse or irritation.

Gagging cough

A gagging cough is often followed by retching and can be caused by various issues, including respiratory infections or foreign objects in the throat.

Common Causes of Coughing in Pets

Numerous reasons can elicit coughing in pets, and some of them require more attention than others. Here are a few common causes:

Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is a respiratory ailment that arises from a blend of viruses and bacteria and is very contagious. Though it is not generally fatal, it can pose significant difficulties for young puppies, senior dogs, and canines with weakened immune systems.

Canine influenza

Canine flu is another contagious respiratory illness that can cause coughing, sneezing, and nasal discharge. Although most dogs recover without complications, severe cases can lead to pneumonia.

Heartworm disease

Spread by mosquitoes, heartworms can infect both dogs and cats. They can cause damage to the heart, lungs, and blood vessels, resulting in a persistent cough.

Respiratory infections

Bacterial and viral infections can lead to respiratory issues and coughing in pets, especially if their immune systems are compromised.

Heart disease

Coughing can be a symptom of heart disease in pets, as it may indicate fluid build-up in the lungs.

Tracheal collapse

Common in small breeds, tracheal collapse occurs when the trachea weakens, causing a honking cough.

Foreign objects

Pets can accidentally inhale objects such as grass, toys, or food particles, leading to coughing and potential airway obstruction.

When to Worry About Your Pet’s Cough

When to Worry About Your Pet's Cough

Determining when to worry about your pet’s cough depends on several factors:

Duration and frequency of Pet’s Cough

In case your pet’s cough persists for more than a week, worsens over time, or suddenly becomes frequent, it is essential to consult with a veterinarian. Additionally, a sudden onset of frequent coughing could indicate a more serious issue.

Associated Symptoms

Be alert for accompanying symptoms that come with the cough, such as lethargy, loss of appetite, breathing difficulties, or discharge from the nose or eyes. These indications could signal a more severe underlying condition that necessitates medical attention.

Age and Breed Factors

Pets that are young, elderly, or have compromised immune systems are more susceptible to infections and other health problems. Additionally, certain breeds have a genetic predisposition to specific illnesses that may cause coughing, such as brachycephalic breeds like bulldogs or pugs, which have shorter airways.

Environmental Factors

Be mindful of any recent alterations in your pet’s environment, such as exposure to unfamiliar animals, visits to dog parks, or boarding, as they may heighten the likelihood of contracting a contagious disease.

Diagnosing and Treating Your Pet’s Cough

Diagnosing and Treating Your Pet's Cough

A veterinarian will conduct a comprehensive evaluation, obtain your pet’s medical history, and may require additional tests such as x-rays, blood work, or bronchoscopy to determine the cause of the cough. Treatment options will depend on the diagnosis and may involve medication, surgery, or lifestyle modifications.

Preventing Pet’s Cough

While not all coughs can be prevented, there are steps you can take to minimize your pet’s risk:

  1. Keep your pet current on vaccinations and routine veterinary check-ups.
  2. Administer heartworm prevention medication as recommended by your veterinarian.
  3. Maintain a clean and healthy environment for your pet, including proper grooming and dental care.
  4. Avoid exposure to environmental irritants such as smoke, chemical fumes, or allergens.
  5. Limit contact with other animals that may be sick or contagious.


Coughing in pets can be indicative of various issues, ranging from mild to severe. Being cognizant of the diverse cough types, their typical causes, and when to be concerned can assist you in determining when to seek veterinary care. By adopting preventative measures and monitoring your pet’s health, you can ensure they receive timely and appropriate treatment if they develop a cough.


Could my pet’s cough be contagious to other animals or humans?

While some causes of coughing, like kennel cough and canine influenza, are contagious among pets, most pet coughs are not transmissible to humans, except for a few exceptions like Bordetella bronchiseptica, which can infect individuals with weakened immune systems.

What can I give my pet for a mild cough?

Always seek advice from your veterinarian before giving your pet any medication. They may suggest an over-the-counter cough suppressant, but only if it is suitable for the specific condition.

Could my pet’s cough be due to allergies?

Yes, pets can develop allergies that result in coughing. If you suspect your pet has allergies, seek advice from your veterinarian to determine the cause and appropriate treatment.

How can I alleviate my pet’s cough?

Ensure your pet has access to fresh water and a clean, cozy environment. Using a humidifier could help alleviate coughing caused by dry air. However, always consult your veterinarian for tailored advice.

Are some breeds more susceptible to coughing?

Yes, certain breeds are more prone to coughing due to their anatomy or genetic disposition to specific conditions. For instance, brachycephalic breeds have shorter airways, making them more vulnerable to respiratory problems, while small breeds like Chihuahuas and Pomeranians are more susceptible to tracheal collapse.

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