9 most common reasons for dog cough

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Have you noticed that your dog is making coughing sounds and you have no idea why? It makes wheezing sounds and has trouble breathing? If you want to know what is causing dog cough and whether you need to take your pet to the vet, continue reading this article. Here you can learn several of the main causes why dogs cough, and how to make distinction between different types of coughing. Just like in humans, dogs can get the common cold and start coughing, but in some cases a cough can indicate to an underlying disease. 

Dog Heart Failure Cough Sound, Coughing and Wheezing

Most common reasons for dog cough:

Kennel cough

If you notice your  dog continuously dry coughing, has some nasal discharge and it is retching, this may point you to something. Kennel cough or also known as Infectious Canine Tracheobronchitis has these symptoms. It is named kennel cough because it is very contagious disease and spreads very fast in close quarters, like kennels, shelters or dog parks. Usually the ones that are most affected with this disease are dogs with lower immunity, like young puppies, pregnant dogs or dogs that suffer from respiratory diseases.

In some cases, this disease can be mild and it can go away on its own, with the help of good nutrition and rest. In other cases, it can be more serious and require intake of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications. Depending on the severity of the disease and the treatment, you should consult your vet.

Chronic bronchitis

This disease manifests with inflammation of the bronchi and excessive mucus in the airways. Among humans this disease is mostly caused by smoking. In other words, if you smoke around your dog it can also be affected in the same way. Because the cough is productive it can become painful for your dog. Some other reasons for developing chronic bronchitis are dust and grains in the surrounding area, polluted air. If you are suspecting your dog has chronic bronchitis, take it to the vet and there you may get a prescription for corticosteroids for treating the symptoms.

Heart problems

One of the symptoms for heart problems is coughing. You should visit the vet if your dog is coughing in its sleep at night or even when it is just laying down. This can indicate congestive heart failure and heart enlargement. Congestive heart failure can cause fluid to build up in the lungs, which provokes cough for clearing up the fluid. Enlarged heart makes pressure on the lungs and the bronchi, and also provokes the dog to cough.

dog heart failure cough sound dog coughing and weezing

Fungal infections

Besides the fact that fungal infections are not common among dogs, they can be acquired from bird droppings, ponds or stagnant water. The fungal infections are followed with coughing, difficulty breathing and fever. If you notice these symptoms in your pet, you should most certainly take it to the vet for checkup. In case diagnosis of fungal infection is made, your dog may require antifungal medications for extended period.


There are several types of parasites lungworms, heartworms and roundworms and all of them can cause cough in your dog. If you notice worms in the stool, or if your dog vomits and there are visible worms and the dog hasn’t received the regular treatment for worms, some of these can be the reason for the cough of your dog. You must follow the prophylactic antiparasitic treatment, so your dog can avoid problems of this nature. You should consider visiting the vet if your dog has productive cough that leads to vomiting or you see worms either in the stool or the vomit.

Dog Heart Failure Cough Sound Dog Coughing and Wheezing
Dirofilaria Immitis – Dog Heart

Foreign bodies

During the play time dogs can ingest a small toy or a part of it, or some parts of the stick used for playing catch with can end up in the trachea or even the lungs. Other reason for foreign bodies ending up in the trachea is fast eating. This can immediately lead to acute coughing, which is a reflex cough in order to expel the foreign object. If a small piece of food enters the lungs it will cause persistent coughing and partial obstruction. The best way to help your dog is to take it directly to the vet and have it examined and the foreign body removed as soon as possible.

Lung cancer

You can always suspect that coughing can be a symptom of lung cancer. Fortunately, this condition is very rare in dogs. Regardless of the rarity, if your dog has persistent cough and loses its breath for no apparent reason, as a precaution make an x-ray and an examination at the vet. If unfortunately, the examinations confirm the diagnosis of lung cancer, you should be referred to an oncologist for further treatment.


If you notice your dog coughing, breathing heavily and has mucus discharge, this might refer to the case of pneumonia. When the vet confirms the diagnose, your dog will get prescription antibiotics and fluid therapy.


Now days we have vaccines against this highly contagious disease. However, distemper usually affects young unvaccinated puppies. This virus can be transferred through bodily secretions and it spreads very easily. If your dog is coughing, which is one of the symptoms of the disease, and your dog still hasn’t received the immunization treatment, you are allowed to suspect that distemper can be the cause for coughing.

In this article we have gone through several diseases that cause coughing in dogs which demand antibiotics as treatment. If the vet prescribes antibiotics for your dog, our suggestion is to follow them with probiotics.

With finishing reading this article you learnt about the main reasons that make your dog cough, if you ever hear such sound, visit the vet for further advice and examinations.

If you want to learn more about your dog’s cough, read the article about Kennel Cough on our blog.

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