12 Possible Reasons Your Dog is Coughing

dog coughing in Clarion, PA
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12 Possible Reasons Your Dog is Coughing

Most dogs don’t usually cough on a regular basis. As a result, it is always a good idea to take your dog to the vet if they have a persistent cough. However, it can be helpful to know the reasons behind dog coughing to give the vet any helpful information they may need to accurately diagnose your pet.

There are many possible causes of coughing in dogs. Most dogs will cough because they have inhaled an irritant, have allergies, or are overweight. However, things like illnesses and more serious medical conditions can cause dogs to cough as well.

In this article, we will be explaining the 12 possible causes of coughing in dogs that dog owners need to know about. We will be explaining when you should take your dog to the vet for coughing as well.

1.   Allergies

Allergies are an extremely common cause of coughing in dogs. Many dogs have allergies, and it is not uncommon for a dog’s allergies to cause their airways to become inflamed. Most of the time this occurs when the dog is allergic to inhaled irritants like dust or pollen.

In addition to coughing, dogs with allergies will often experience other symptoms including:

  • Sneezing
  • Wheezing
  • Watery eyes
  • Nasal discharge
  • Itchy skin and eyes
  • Excessive scratching and licking
  • Vomiting and diarrhea

Most of the time allergies in dogs are not very serious. Still, taking your dog to the vet for treatment will make them feel more comfortable and prevent complications such as a skin infection due to excessive scratching and licking.

2.   Inhaling Irritants

Of course, inhaling irritants like dust, pollen, and smoke will commonly cause dogs to cough. This is a natural response to the inhalation of irritants in most mammals, including dogs. This is usually not a serious concern, and it does not require a vet visit to treat most of the time.

3.   Obesity

Dogs are more likely to start coughing when overweight or obese. Obesity can cause dogs to start coughing when engaging in physical activity, and they are also more susceptible to conditions affecting the airways such as tracheal collapse. Obesity in dogs can cause many medical issues in dogs, so speaking with your vet about having your dog lose weight is important for owners of overweight and obese dogs.

4.   Bacterial and Viral Infections

Some bacterial and viral infections can cause coughing in dogs. These illnesses include but may not be limited to:

  • Kennel cough
  • Canine influenza virus
  • Distemper

Kennel cough is the most common illness that causes coughing in dogs. While distemper is the only immediately life threatening illness on this list, you should take your dog to the vet if you believe that their coughing is caused by any type of illness. This is not only because it will make your dog more comfortable, but also because it could prevent them from spreading a disease to other dogs.

5.   Chronic Bronchitis

Chronic bronchitis occurs when dogs have an inflamed airway frequently. This often causes dogs to have a dry, hacking cough. This cough tends to get worse when dogs are excited or have engaged in physical activity.

This condition requires a diagnosis from a vet and treatment in the form of inhalers that are made specifically for dogs.

6.   Heart Disease

Heart disease will commonly cause dogs to cough. This is usually due to fluid buildup around the lungs. Heart disease is a life threatening condition in dogs that requires urgent veterinary treatment.

7.   A Collapsed Trachea

Dogs will often develop a honking cough when they have a collapsed trachea. This occurs because of damage to the neck and trachea, usually from pulling too hard on the leash. Overweight and obese dogs are predisposed to a collapsed trachea. Small-sized dog breeds such as Yorkies and Chihuahuas are predisposed to this condition as well.

8.   Pulmonary Hypertension

Pulmonary hypertension refers to high blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries around the lungs. This makes it very difficult for the body to get enough oxygen.

In addition to coughing, dogs with this condition can also faint and have a shortness of breath. Congestive heart failure and a buildup of fluid within the abdomen can occur as well when this condition is left untreated.

This is a very serious condition that requires urgent veterinary care. Treatment for this condition usually consists of lifelong medication and rehabilitation therapy.

9.   A Foreign Body

Dogs can start coughing and wheezing when they have inhaled a foreign body. This is a deadly condition that requires immediate lifesaving surgery and veterinary care.

dog coughing in Clarion, PA

10.  Cancer and Tumors

Cancer and Tumors in the lungs, throat, and airways can cause dogs to cough as well. This is another medical condition that requires an official diagnosis and urgent veterinary treatment. However, it is also a fairly rare cause of coughing in dogs.

11.  Poisoning

Poisoning can also cause dogs to cough. Most of the time dogs get poisoned because they ingest chemicals or a food that is toxic to dogs. Poisoning is a medical emergency that requires emergency veterinary treatment.

12.  Other Medical Conditions

Some other medical conditions can also cause coughing in dogs, but they are rare conditions. Since such a wide variety of conditions can cause coughing in dogs, it is always best to take your dog to the vet if their cough persists or if it is worrying you.

When to See a Vet

You should take your dog to the vet for coughing if:

  • They are coughing up blood (emergency)
  • They are showing signs of having an injury or a foreign body (emergency)
  • They are showing signs of poisoning (emergency)
  • They are struggling to breathe (emergency)
  • You believe they may be sick (urgent)
  • They are showing other symptoms alongside coughing (urgent)
  • They are showing signs of heart disease (urgent)
  • They are showing signs of heart failure (emergency)
  • You believe that they may have a medical condition that is causing their coughing (urgent)


In conclusion, coughing in dogs can have various causes, ranging from minor irritants and allergies to serious medical conditions such as heart disease, chronic bronchitis, and pulmonary hypertension. It is important for dog owners to be aware of the possible reasons behind their dog’s coughing and to seek veterinary care if the cough persists or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms. Regular check-ups with a veterinarian, maintaining a healthy weight for your dog, and avoiding exposure to potential irritants can help prevent coughing in dogs. Remember, early detection and proper treatment can greatly improve the well-being of your furry companion.

If your dog is coughing anywhere near Clarion, PA, Clarion Animal Hospital is here to help. Call us today at (814) 227-2603, or Request an Appointment Online!

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