Like us, dogs can sometimes swallow crookedly when they eat or drink. So should you be worried with your Dog coughing after drinking water? If it becomes regular and your dog starts to cough every time he drinks a little water, this is not normal. This means that he has a problem with the trachea, the tube that allows air to pass to the lungs.
Why is my dog coughing?
The cough is a forced and noisy exhalation. It is accompanied by a contraction of the trachea and pharynx. It is a reflex that is used to forcefully evacuate the air and what is in the respiratory tract.
In general, coughing is a symptom of obstruction or discomfort, caused for example by inflammation. The bronchi can be blocked by edemaciated respiratory tissue, fluid, mucus, a foreign body, or an organ or mass that compresses them. Do not confuse a dog that coughs and spits with a dog that sneezes. The function of sneezing is to clear the nasal passages (from a foreign body or nasal secretion).
Difference between dry cough and oily cough
A dog that coughs without emitting secretion will have what is called a dry cough. When there are secretions when he coughs we talk about fatty cough. Oily cough is often accompanied by a bacterial infection. A dry cough can turn into a fatty cough over time.
Dog coughing after drinking water: Underlying causes
1. Kennel cough
Kennel cough, also known as infectious tracheobronchitis, is a highly contagious disease that affects the dog’s breathing voice. It can affect all dogs, regardless of their breed or age, but is found more frequently in dog boarding, shelters or even breedings. All the places where you can see a high concentration of dogs, in short.
Kennel cough occurs especially when the dog is exercising or drinking water. Vomiting as well as deep lethargy or even a runny nose can also be observed.
The disease must be treated immediately, as soon as the first symptoms appear, otherwise the dog could develop pneumonia, or other serious illness, and utlimately die. But generally, a simple visit to the veterinarian is enough, and when treated appropriately, the disease disappears by itself after a few weeks.
2. Tracheal hypoplasia
Tracheal hypoplasia is an inherited malformation of the trachea. The latter is not developing as it should. Indeed, it turns out to be narrower. This genetic anomaly is mainly observed in breeds of dogs with crushed snouts, called “brachycephalic” (English Bulldog, Pug, Boston terrier).
This malformation is generally detected in puppies from the age of 5 months on, especially when they cough after drinking. But you can also observe other symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, intolerance to exercise, snoring or pronounced sniffles.
Tracheal hypoplasia cannot be treated, but certain arrangements must be made to improve the dog’s comfort: strict weight control to avoid obesity, replacement of the collar with a harness, etc.
3. Tracheal collapse
Tracheal collapse is a degenerative condition that gradually narrows the dog’s trachea. As the animal’s airways narrow, it’s more and more difficult to breathe.
This condition is mainly encountered in small dogs (Yorkshire terrier, Chihuahua, Loulou de Poméranie, Lhassa Apso, Pug …). The first symptoms often appear at around 5 years old. We can then observe a cough, often accompanied by nausea, as well as a loss of energy and a progressive intolerance on exertion.
In this case, medical treatment, restriction of physical activity and modification of the diet can be implemented. In addition, wearing a harness is essential. In the most severe cases of tracheal collapse, surgery is necessary.
4. Heart Disease
The heart of older dogs, for example due to a degenerative valve disease, may become less effective and lead to the appearance of a heart cough and pulmonary edema (water accumulates in the lungs). Heartworm (heartworm disease) can also cause severe coughing in dogs.
5. Dog coughing after drinking water: it puts his nose in the water!
Here’s a very simple explanation which should not cause much concern. It is very likely that when your dog drinks he puts his nose in the water and that is why he coughs afterwards. Try to observe it to see if it is the case at first, and if you do not see anything try to put a small bowl half full of water to avoid that it plunges its nose in water.
Coughing Dog: Examination and Treatment
If your dog has been coughing very frequently for several days or occasionally for several weeks, you must take him to the veterinarian for an examination.
To find the origin of the cough, the veterinarian will do a clinical examination and in particular a careful auscultation of the pulmonary area. During auscultation, he may hear specific noises which can guide him in the diagnosis. He will also check the dog’s temperature, it can increase in cases of bacterial or viral infection such as in severe forms of kennel cough. He may carry out additional examinations such as an x-ray of the chest, if the dog’s breathing allows it.
A blood test with an analysis of blood cells makes it possible to clearly diagnose an infection. In some cases a broncho-random lavage may be necessary to determine the exact cause of the lung disease and and to select the right antibiotic, in case of bacterial infection, for example. A scanner or an MRI can be programmed to identify the presence of a tumor or pulmonary abscess.
An ultrasound examination of the heart may be indicated in dogs with a heart cough to assess the stage and type of heart disease.
Depending on the results of the analyzes and the diagnosis of the condition, the veterinarian will be able to administer antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs, in the case of bronchitis of bacterial origin, or inject diuretics to eliminate pulmonary edema and prescribe medication for the heart disease that causes the edema.
Some lung tumors can be removed by surgery or laparoscopy (with a camera).
Tracheal collapse is usually treated with bronchodilators and cough suppressants. The veterinarian can suggest inserting a device in the dog’s trachea to keep it open.
Owners of a coughing dog must stop smoking indoors and stop using candles, home fragrances and any other respiratory irritants.
Steam mist (inhalation or an environment with warm water) can help, by humidifying the respiratory tract, to relieve the coughing dog.