Why Is My Dog Coughing?

Sore throat, tonsillitis and pneumonia can usually be treated or managed with antibiotics. In the rare case of tonsillitis, don’t worry: Your dog won’t need to have his tonsils out, and you don’t need to give him ice cream.

Tracheal collapse is most common in older toy breeds who are overweight and overexcitable. They get to coughing when they see some big dog that they need to go kill and strain against their collar. Sometimes they cough after eating or drinking. Some common-sense ways to prevent this problem include watching your small dog’s weight so he doesn’t come to resemble an overstuffed sausage, giving him moderate exercise, walking him with a harness instead of a collar so he doesn’t put pressure on his throat when he pulls on the leash, teaching him not to pull on the leash in the first place, and avoiding situations that set off coughing episodes.


Coughing is one of the signs of congestive heart failure. It means that fluid is building up in your dog’s lungs. In severe cases, your veterinarian may refer you to a veterinary cardiologist or internal medicine specialist. Medication can often relieve the cough and other symptoms and help maintain your dog's quality of life for months and even years if you catch the problem early. If the cough is accompanied by rapid or labored breathing, bloody discharge or collapse, get your dog to a veterinary hospital right away.

Other problems that can cause coughing include chronic bronchitis, heartworm disease, canine influenza and some types of cancer. The occasional cough isn’t anything to worry about, but you should take it seriously — and take your dog to your veterinarian — if a cough becomes persistent.

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