Coughing in animals can have numerous causes including: airborne irritants and allergens, infectious diseases, inflammatory diseases, cancer, heart or lung diseases, and bleeding disorders. Your veterinarian can use physical exam findings, as well as diagnostic testing such as radiographs and bloodwork, to determine what type of cough your dog has and what treatment might be necessary to start. Because coughs can often be a sign of other underlying illness, it is important to have your pet evaluated by a veterinarian for any type of persistent or sudden cough.
Some coughs can be considered nuisance coughs meaning that they are not life threatening to your pets. These coughs can include “kennel cough”, a generic term for a number of infectious types of tracheobronchitis and chronic bronchitis that is not caused by an infection. Purposeful coughs can be used to expel foreign material or substances like pus caused by pneumonia from the lungs.
Coughing can also be a warning system for more severe disease processes occurring in your pet’s body. These could include heart failure, fluid in the lungs or the chest cavity, bleeding disorders, cancer, and other potentially life threatening disease processes seen in small animals. Sometimes early detection of these diseases is the most important aspect of successful treatment. That is why seeing your veterinarian for any new or worsening cough is so important for your pet’s well-being.