Posted: 13 Feb 2013 08:00 PM PST
There are many causes of coughing in dogs.
Coughing is a pretty frequent symptom in dogs and it can have many different causes. An occasional cough may be nothing more than the need to clear the throat, just like for a person. However, when the cough becomes persistent and/or severe, we have to start trying to figure out why the cough is occurring. Here are some of the most common causes of coughing in dogs.
Upper respiratory infections are quite common, particularly for dogs that have recently been in a kennel situation or have been exposed to another dog with an upper respiratory infection. These infections commonly fall under the heading of “kennel cough”. In actuality, “kennel cough” is a multifactorial disease that can have numerous causes, including both bacterial and viral infections as well as bronchial or tracheal irritation caused by inadequate ventilation, cigarette smoke and more.
Heart disease is a frequent cause of coughing in dogs. There are many different types of heart disease. For instance, small breed dogs frequently suffer from degenerative valvular disease in which the valves of the heart become worn over time and eventually start to function less efficiently. This results in a disruption of the flow of blood through the heart valves. Larger breed dogs can suffer from valvular disease as well but diseases of the heart muscle are also common in some large breeds. This disease of the heart muscle is known as cardiomyopathy. Both degenerative valve disease and cardiomyopathy eventually lead to congestive heart failure which in turn results in a cough.
Heartworm disease is another disease that is capable of causing your dog to cough. Heartworms are parasitic worms that live in your dog’s heart and blood vessels. Your dog can become infected with heartworms through the bite of an infected mosquito. Heartworm disease is more common in some parts of the United State than others but can be diagnosed almost anywhere. When infected, the worms cause damage to your dog’s heart, blood vessels and lungs causing your dog to cough.
Tracheal collapse is common in small breed dogs and is a frequent cause of coughing. In this situation, the cartilage rings that support the trachea (the large airway that extends from the mouth to the lungs) do not hold their shape and allow the trachea to collapse. The trachea is a tube-like structure. When it collapses, your dog will cough in an attempt to reopen the trachea. The coughing often occurs when your dog is excited but can occur at other times as well.
Pneumonia, or inflammation/infection of the lungs, can occur as a complication in an upper respiratory infection, from bacteria, viruses or other microorganisms carried to the lungs from other parts of the body, or as a primary disease. Whatever the cause, coughing is frequently a symptom.
Inflammation in the respiratory tract caused by allergies, immune diseases, irritants, parasites, and other factors can also be responsible for causing your dog to cough.
Unfortunately, cancer is another disease that can be responsible for a cough. Cancers can be primary (occurring initially in the respiratory tract) or metastatic (spreading to the lungs from other parts of the body).
These are some of the causes of coughing in dogs. There are others as well. Prognosis and successful treatment depends on the cause so diagnosis of the cause is crucial. Your veterinarian may need to perform blood tests, radiographs (x-rays), an echocardiogram (an ultrasound study of your dog’s heart), and other tests to determine the cause.
This article is posted and shared through the courtesy of the Pet Health Care Gazette