If your dog coughs when excited, intense or anxious it may be a symptom of an underlying condition. Dog coughs can have several origins, hence the importance of making a correct diagnosis that will help your veterinarian establish and prescribe an adequate treatment.
In this article we will explain why a dog is coughing and we will particularly focus on coughs produced by parasites that infest the lungs and heart, which are often responsible for serious and life-threatening illnesses.
Why is my dog coughing?
In order to explain why dogs cough, we must first understand that coughing is a reflex triggered by irritation in a certain place in the trachea. Coughs can be caused by infections in the respiratory tract, by the presence of irritants (such as plant fragments or food scraps), by heart disease, tumors, parasites or simply by the excessive pressure exerted. by a too tight collar.
When your dog coughs when excited or breathing heavily, the irritation may be enhanced or amplified. Coughing increases irritation which feeds back and intensifies the cough. It’s a vicious circle.
It can be deep, dry, wet, sharp, weak or long lasting. The characteristics of the cough as well as the presence of other symptoms such as breathing changes, eye or nasal discharge, sneezing or sputum will help your veterinarian make a diagnosis.
In the next few paragraphs, we will discuss what are the most common causes that provoke a dog’s cough.
My dog is coughing like something is stuck in his throat
Any object stuck in the respiratory system can explain why your dog is coughing. Dogs are capable of swallowing all kinds of objects, such as toys, bones, splinters, hooks, pieces of ropes, etc. in their throats.
If your dog coughs as if he had something stuck in the throat he will likely behave differently and may appear worried and anxious. Depending on the location of the foreign body he may attempt to retrieve the object by him sticking his paws in his mouth. It is also possible and likely that he will start to over-salivate or try to vomit. If the foreign body is jammed in the larynx, you will have the impression that your dog is choking. Obviously, this becomes a veterinary emergency.
It is possible that your dog has kennel cough. As its name suggests, the cough will be the characteristic symptom of this disease and is observed mostly in dogs living in communities because it is a very contagious disease.
It is actually a group of respiratory diseases caused by several bacteria and viruses such as the parainfluenza virus or the bacterium Bordetella bronchiseptica.
Your dog will cough and vomit, but usually he will not have any more symptoms because kennel cough is usually a fairly mild infection. Although the condition is not serious you will still need to bring your canine friend to the vet because if the kennel cough is not treated properly, it can easily escalate into something more serious, like pneumonia.
In more severe cases, dogs will have fever, stop eating, have a runny nose, suffer from exercise intolerance, will sneeze, and have breathing problems. It will be up to the vet to establish the appropriate medication. There are certain vaccines that can help in the prevention of kennel cough. It is important that you take precautions so that your dog does not infect any of his animal buddies!
Dog coughs when excited due to pharyngitis
Another of the diseases which can explain the cough of the dog in either a moment of calm or excitement is the pharyngitis. It is generally associated with oral or systemic infections. It is more common in puppies and causes coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia and listlessness. Pharyngitis causes pain which usually cuts a dog’s appetite.
The veterinarian will be responsible for diagnosing pharyngitis and then treating it. The treatment usually requires taking antibiotics in addition to ensuring your dog is eating properly.
Dog cough due to bronchitis
If your dog is treated but is still not recovering after a few months, it is likely that he has chronic bronchitis. This disease is more common in adult and senior dogs and its origin is usually unknown.
Coughing fits can end with a sputum of foamy saliva that can be mistaken for vomiting. If not treated in time, bronchitis can cause irreversible damage.
The vet will use medication to reduce inflammation in the bronchi and bronchioles. You will also need to take palliative measures such as eliminating from the dog’s the environment any potential irritants and you will need to keep your dog from outdoor pollutants during daily walks.
Dog cough due to lung worms
Another reason why a dog coughs when excited or calm is the presence of parasites in the lungs or, in general, in the respiratory tract. There are several species that can infest dogs, usually they contract after ingesting an intermediate host such as snails. This pathology tends to cause a slight cough even if normally it does not present any symptoms.
In younger dogs, in addition to a persistent cough, it will create a loss of weight as well as an intolerance to exercise. While coughing, the larvae arrive in the mouth of the dog and he swallows it. It may be possible to eventually see the larvae through his excrement.
These worms can be the cause of coagulation problems and can end up causing the death of the dog. This infection requires adequate treatment but also appropriate follow-up of the deworming schedule to eventually get into preventive as opposed to reactive mode.
Dog coughs due to heart disease
While you might think that coughing is always linked with the respiratory organs, you should know that heart problems can also be the cause. Enlargement of this organ affects its functioning and affects the lungs, causing (besides coughing) exercise intolerance, fatigue, weight loss, ascites, breathing difficulties and even fainting.
These symptoms appear for diseases like dilated cardiomyopathy, chronic valve disease or filariasis, which are potentially fatal. The latter is caused by worms in the heart and manifests itself especially when temperatures rise because it facilitates the development and growth of its vector. For example, a mosquito with a filarial larvae in its mouth can will transmit it to the dog.
Filariasis develops its life cycle internally and ends up settling mainly in the heart and pulmonary arteries, thereby affecting their functioning and posing a serious risk to the health of the dog. In addition, if the larvae move, it can obstruct the blood flow to the lungs, causing pulmonary thromboembolism.
If the hepatic veins are affected, this causes superior vena cava syndrome, which is responsible for liver failure. This parasitosis is treatable, but as it progresses the dead larvae can cause blockages that could deadly.
My dog coughs constantly
If your dog coughs when excited but also when being calm and the situation is persistent you should quickly consult with a trusted veterinarian so he can check what is the root cause and prescribe an appropriate and targeted treatment for your dog.
The importance of preventive medicine
There are many conditions that can affect a dog and the worst part of all of this is that they can spread to people and vice versa. It is of vital importance to religiously follow the vaccination and deworming schedule prescribed by your veterinarian as this is the best measure to your dog and your whole family in good health.
It is therefore recommended to bring your dog to the veterinarian every six months and to follow a monthly deworming program which will help prevent and treat (always using drugs prescribed by the veterinarian) quickly and effectively any pathologies that could affect our best friend.