Why Do Dogs Hack Cough

A dog may appear to be trying to remove something from its mouth or throat when it coughs dryly and hackingly. Kennel cough, an infectious upper respiratory disease that dogs frequently contract from environments where numerous dogs congregate, can cause a raspy-sounding, hacking cough.

Why is my dog always gagging and coughing as though he’s choking?

Larynx-related irritation is what makes people gag. Numerous causes might make a dog throw up, and a medical visit is frequently necessary to diagnose the issue.

When a dog coughs initially before gagging, we frequently consider conditions that lead to bronchitis and lower respiratory illnesses. We are thinking of things like laryngeal dysfunction when a dog initially gags and then coughs.

Infectious conditions and laryngeal paralysis are two extremely typical things that might make dogs gag.

A typical cause of dog gagging is kennel cough, a form of respiratory ailment that causes a rough, goose-like cough, occasionally accompanied by a gag. Gagging can occasionally occur in dogs with pneumonia, a more serious illness, as well as other infectious disorders.

A common condition in senior Labrador Retrievers is laryngeal paralysis. As a result of the larynx’s dysfunction, some food and liquid can now enter the airway. A extremely loud, harsh panting is another symptom of severe illness. Laryngeal paralysis frequently begins quietly and gets worse over time.

How can I cure my dog’s coughing fit?

There are a few at-home treatments for kennel cough that are effective in mild cases. Watch out for indications that the kennel cough is worsening or not improving, though.

Add Honey to Warm Water

Honey will help calm your dog’s throat and lessen coughing, making it a fantastic natural cure for kennel cough.

You can feed your dog a bowl of warm water and between 1/2 and 1 tablespoon of honey. Depending on how frequently your dog coughs, you can give this up to three times per day.

Use Your Shower to Do Steam Therapy

Allow your dog to remain in the enclosed bathroom with you while you take a hot shower or bath, but not in the water. In addition to offering steam treatment, a hot shower can help soothe discomfort.

Try Holistic Antioxidants Made for Dogs

Dimethylglycine (DMG), a holistic antioxidant for dogs, can help modify and stimulate the immune system to fight off the infection more quickly.

Make Sure Your Dog Is Getting Plenty of Rest

While your dog is recovering from kennel cough, try to cut back on their normal exercise. This can aid in healing and lessen coughing fits.

What makes a dog hack and cough?

You’re naturally worried since your dog has started making hacking, honking, and whooping noises. That cough could simply be a reaction to breathing in an allergen from the environment. According to Dr. Camille DeClementi, vice president of the ASPCA Animal Hospital in New York City, coughing is a crucial bodily defense to maintain the respiratory system clear of dangerous substances, foreign objects and debris, and excessive secretions. similar to how we automatically cough when we breathe in dust, for instance.

In other instances, it might be an indication of a more serious underlying condition. Heart disease, chronic bronchitis, heartworm infection, and respiratory infections brought on by bacteria, viruses, or fungi are some of the most typical reasons of coughing in dogs.

Other, less typical suspects may be to blame for your dog’s hacking in addition to the obvious suspects. Here are eight unexpected possibilities to think about if your veterinarian is unable to identify the source of your dog’s coughing.

Ingesting Rat Poison

Anticoagulants, a subclass of rat poisons, prevent blood from clotting, which causes bleeding. Even our dogs are not safe from the threat.” According to DeClementi, ingesting anticoagulants can result in a dog bleeding into her chest cavities, which can induce coughing. She advises bringing a dog that has consumed rat poison to an emergency clinic right away to avoid life-threatening hemorrhaging.

According to Dr. Susan Jeffrey, a veterinarian from Truesdell Animal Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin, the patient might require a blood transfusion depending on how much blood was lost. And since anticoagulants prevent the manufacture of vitamin K, which is essential for healthy coagulation, the dog will require vitamin K therapy until the anticoagulant’s effects start to wear off.

By placing your attention on prevention, you can spare yourself and your dog the anguish “DeClementi advises against applying these products in areas where dogs can consume them. Better still, practice trap and release and invest in a humane rodent control strategy like a no-kill trap.

Inhaling Indoor Irritants

Your dog may cough due to any variety of airborne allergens that are present in your home, according to DeClementi. Dust mites, fireplace ash, dandruff, litter box dust, secondhand smoking, mold, and aerosolized goods like cleaning sprays, air fresheners, and even deodorants are a few of these.

Even while you might not respond to these irritants, your pet may still have a problem with them “According to Jeffrey, since dogs have a much keener sense of smell than humans do, things that annoy us may do so to them.

However, not all dogs exposed to these irritants cough. “It is comparable to people. According to Dr. Cathy Meeks, a veterinarian from BluePearl Veterinary Partners in Tampa, Florida, not everyone who goes outside and breathes in the air will start coughing due to pollen. However, a dog who is particularly sensitive to a specific trigger or one who has an underlying respiratory illness like bronchitis may be more susceptible.


You probably already know that a chubby dog is more likely to suffer from conditions like arthritis and congestive heart failure. According to Jeffrey, another solid reason to have your best buddy start a diet is the connection between the additional weight and coughing.

“Some obese dogs may cough as a result of the pressure the fat puts on their respiratory system. She claims that losing weight is the only remedy for this. Consult your veterinarian about placing your dog on a healthy diet.

A single extra pound can be hazardous to your devoted friend. (Use the interactive petMD web tool “Take the quiz “Is My Pet Fat?” to see how your dog does.)

Inhaled Blade of Grass

Although it’s difficult to fathom a single blade of grass causing respiratory issues, Meeks, who is board certified in veterinary internal medicine, occasionally runs into this condition. She occasionally discovers a blade of grass when using an endoscope to inspect a dog’s airway in hopes of finding an illness.

Certain grass species (found primarily in the western portion of the country) produce foxtails or grass awns with sharp “blades that can cut through the skin of a dog. The blade has the potential to pierce the dog’s skin and penetrate the lung. Meeks claims that this may also cause you to cough.

Grass awns can cause more than just coughing fits when they migrate into the lungs or chest cavity “Dr. Anusha Balakrishnan, a veterinarian at Cornell University Veterinary Specialists in Stamford, Connecticut, adds that they can also result in a combination of these conditions, including pneumonia, lung abscesses, pneumothorax, and pyothorax.


According to Balakrishnan, lungworms are parasites that infect dogs’ right heart ventricle and pulmonary artery. They subsequently spread out into the dog’s lungs’ airways. “Clinical symptoms might range from life-threatening pulmonary edema to coughing or activity intolerance (excess fluid in the lungs).

Meeks claims that although lungworms are not nearly as frequent as heartworms, they can in fact account for your dog’s cough. “Dogs can contract the worm by consuming infected prey. They exit the intestines and go through the blood to the lungs.”

According to Balakrishnan, a board-certified expert in emergency and critical care, dogs can also contract the parasite by eating slugs and terrestrial snails that act as the parasite’s hosts. Typically, to treat a condition, a doctor may prescribe a deworming drug like fenbendazole, “with seriously impacted canines needing extensive respiratory assistance.

Lung Lobe Torsion

Lung lobe torsion refers to the rotation and twisting of a dog’s lung. “The lung turns over on itself, closing the airway,” Meeks says. Lung lobe torsion can cause symptoms like coughing up blood, discomfort, fever, and fatigue in addition to coughing.

Lung lobe torsion is more frequent in dogs with fluid in the chest, according to Meeks, or “it can conceivably arise as a result of heart illness or another ailment,” however veterinarians frequently have problems determining exactly why this occurs.

Dr. Zenithson Ng, a board-certified veterinarian and clinical assistant professor at the University of Tennessee, College of Veterinary Medicine, believes that some breeds are more susceptible than others. “Smaller dogs like Pugs, as well as huge, deep-chested breed dogs, may be vulnerable,” he adds.

Compared to other breeds, the Afghan Hound has a 133-fold higher risk of developing lung lobe torsion, according to a study by MediMedia Animal Health. Aside from Pugs, smaller breeds at greater risk include Yorkshire Terriers, Beagles, and Miniature Poodles.

Inhaling Toxic Gases Associated with House Fires

Carbon monoxide, which binds to hemoglobin molecules (what makes blood red) and lowers blood oxygen levels, is one of the most prevalent and deadly chemicals produced by home fires, according to Balakrishnan.

According to her, the burning of some materials, such as plastics, wool, and silk, produces hydrogen cyanide, another hazardous chemical.

There have also been reports of acute upper airway blockage, bronchospasm, small airway occlusion, pulmonary infection, and respiratory failure in patients with smoke inhalation damage.

Additionally, she claims that soot from house fires can attach to the lining of the respiratory tree and impair the respiratory system’s defenses.

All of these smoke inhalation-related illnesses are characterized by coughing as a prevalent symptom.

Side Effects from Medications

Coughing is a side effect of some medications that veterinarians provide to their canine patients. Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors are a class of drugs that are often prescribed and have the potential to cause coughing in dogs. According to him, ACE inhibitors frequently result in dry, hacking, and bothersome coughing that mainly happens at night.

It might be alluring to attribute your dog’s cough to an ACE inhibitor, particularly if it began when you started giving her the drug. But don’t assume anything. Because ACE inhibitors are used to treat heart problems, it might be misleading. Additionally, coughing is a sign of heart problems.

Diagnosing Persistent Cough in Dogs

Always consult your veterinarian if a cough persists. According to board-certified internal medicine specialist Rosenthal, “We perform a thorough physical examination, obtain a thorough history of how and when the cough first appeared, and use diagnostic techniques like X-rays, blood tests, and ultrasound to assist us identify the precise causes of coughing.”

Your veterinarian will probably diagnose your dog’s cough as having one of the more typical reasons, such as heart problems or a respiratory infection. But occasionally, one of these less probable offenders may be to blame.

How can I determine the severity of my dog’s cough?

A healthy dog may occasionally cough, but there is typically nothing to be concerned about. However, much as with humans, when a dog’s coughing becomes a recurring or continuous issue, it may be an indication of a serious illness. It can be easier to decide when to be concerned if you are aware of some of the most typical reasons of coughing in dogs.

In both dogs and cats, coughing is a symptom of many different diseases. The most typical and available forms of treatment are listed below.

Coughing Related to Infections

A dog’s upper respiratory tract, lung tissue (pneumonia), airways (bronchitis), or a combination of these (bronchopneumonia) can all be infected by viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites, which results in coughing in dogs. The most prevalent infectious cause of coughing is kennel cough. Numerous viruses and bacteria, either separately or in combination, are capable of causing it. The canine influenza virus causes symptoms like coughing, fever, and nasal discharge and is growing more and more common in the US.

For the treatment of infected coughs, supportive care is crucial. Dogs should be enticed to take breaks, hydrate, and eat. When symptoms are particularly bad, cough suppressants can be helpful.

Only bacteria can be successfully treated with antibiotics. Typically, viral infections must go through their stages. There are additional medicines that can be used to treat some fungus and parasites.

Coughing Related to Heartworm Disease

Heartworms spread through mosquito bites that take the parasite’s larval forms from one dog and pass them on to another. The larva move to the newly infected dog’s heart and lungs, where they develop into adults that resemble spaghetti. Damage to the heart and lungs could be fatal as a result of their existence and the ensuing inflammation.

Preventative drugs for heartworm are quite secure and efficient. However, once the disease has set in, therapy can be very risky and expensive.

Coughing Related to Heart Disease

Dogs may cough due to a variety of heart conditions, including as mitral valve endocardiosis, dilated cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure with numerous causes, and more.

A veterinarian may recommend a combination of drugs to help a dog’s heart pump more effectively, normalize blood pressure, and lessen the abnormal fluid retention depending on the precise type of heart disease the dog has (e.g., pimobendan, enalapril, or furosemide). In some circumstances, additional treatments including surgery or the implantation of a pacemaker may be necessary.

Coughing Related to Collapsing Trachea

Small dogs are more vulnerable to the cartilage rings that partially wrap the trachea deteriorating. This results in the trachea collapsing in on itself, which causes tracheal discomfort and a persistent cough that is frequently compared to a goose honking sound. Although medications that open up the airways, reduce swelling, stop coughing, and treat secondary infections might be helpful, in extreme circumstances, surgery could be required to give these dogs a decent quality of life.

Coughing Related to Laryngeal Paralysis

Due to the weakening of the nerves that govern the muscles surrounding the larynx in dogs with laryngeal paralysis, the larynx cannot fully open. Coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath are the results of this.

Laryngeal paralyzed dogs may find it easier to breathe with surgery to hold one side of the larynx permanently open, but this procedure also increases their risk of aspiration pneumonia, another cause of canine coughing.

Reverse Sneeze

Many dog owners mistake the sound of a reverse sneeze for coughing even though it is technically not a cough. When something irritates the rear of the nasal passages (postnasal discharge, foreign objects, parasites, etc.), reverse sneezes are produced and frequently happen in groups.

Similar to “regular sneezes,” reverse sneezes are unimportant when they don’t happen often, but if they do, the dog needs to see a vet for a diagnosis and the right kind of care if they become severe or frequent.

Coughing Related to Chronic Bronchitis

The most likely diagnosis is chronic bronchitis when a dog coughs owing to a chronic inflammation of the airways and no other reason can be found. A dry, hacking cough that gets worse with activity or excitement and gets worse with time is a common symptom of canine chronic bronchitis.

Medications that reduce inflammation (such as fluticasone or prednisolone) and widen airways are part of the treatment (e.g., albuterol or terbutaline). They can also be administered systemically if necessary, though it is preferable to provide them by inhalation to minimize potential side effects.

Coughing Related to Foreign Objects

Dogs occasionally inhale foreign substances or items that get stuck in their airways. The body will attempt to cough it out as a natural reaction. If this doesn’t work, the substance needs to be removed surgically or with the aid of an endoscope.

Coughing Related to Cancer

When a dog develops cancer of the lungs, other sections of the respiratory system, heart, or surrounding tissues, one of the first indications that owners may notice is coughing. Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or palliative care are all possible forms of treatment.

Diagnosing the Cause of a Dog’s Cough

Finding the root of a dog’s cough is the first step in treating it. Your dog’s health history, travel experiences, preventive care, the beginning and progression of symptoms, etc. will all be discussed during the initial consultation with your veterinarian. Then, he or she will conduct a thorough physical examination. At this stage, a preliminary diagnosis can occasionally be made, but diagnostic testing is frequently needed to make a certain diagnosis. A combination of the following examinations may be required, depending on the particular circumstances involving your dog:

  • blood chemistry test
  • whole blood cell count
  • to rule in or exclude numerous viral illnesses using serology
  • Heart disease screening with a blood test for B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP)
  • Urinalysis
  • Examining the feces
  • A chest x-ray
  • Echocardiography (an ultrasound of the heart)
  • taking blood pressure readings
  • the electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • an analysis of fluid samples obtained from the airways

When is Coughing Serious?

It seems sense to wait a few days to see if your dog’s slight cough will go away on its own if it only started recently and appears to be feeling fine. However, schedule a visit with your veterinarian if the cough is really bad, gets worse, or doesn’t go away after a week or so. Additionally, call your vet right away if your dog exhibits any other potentially significant symptoms, such as lethargy, respiratory problems, a lack of appetite, or any other signs.