What Can Cause a Dog to Cough: Uncovering Common Triggers

Dogs, just like humans, can develop a cough now and then. Coughs can be temporary, and in some cases, an indication of a more severe condition. It is essential to understand the various types of coughs and possible causes to provide proper care for your furry friend.

In this article, we will discuss the common triggers that can cause a dog to cough, and what you can do about it.

The Different Types of Coughs in Dogs

Before we dive into the common triggers of a dog’s cough, we must first understand the different types of coughs that dogs can experience.

Dry Coughs

A dry cough produces no mucus or phlegm, and it usually originates from the throat or upper airway. Dogs with a dry cough often have a throat irritation caused by various factors.

Wet Coughs

A wet cough, also known as a productive cough or chest cough, produces mucus from the lungs or lower airways, and the dog typically coughs up phlegm. Wet coughs are usually a sign of respiratory problems, especially when accompanied by other symptoms like difficulty in breathing, wheezing, or rapid breathing.

The Common Triggers of a Dog’s Cough


Allergies are one of the leading causes of a dog’s cough. Allergens such as pollen, dust, and mold can irritate their airway, leading to coughing spells. If your dog exhibits seasonal coughs or displays symptoms like runny nose or itchy skin, they might have allergies.


Infections like kennel cough, pneumonia, and canine influenza are viral respiratory diseases that can cause a dry or wet cough in dogs. These diseases can spread easily from one dog to another, and it’s crucial to keep your dog up-to-date on their vaccinations.

Heart Disease

Congestive heart failure in dogs can lead to fluid accumulation in their lungs, causing a persistent wet cough. Heart disease often affects senior dogs and overweight dogs, so it’s essential to provide regular health examinations to monitor your dog’s heart health.

Tracheal Collapse

Tracheal collapse is a respiratory condition that affects small dog breeds, especially toy breeds. It is caused by a weakened tracheal cartilage ring, leading to narrowing of the trachea, causing a dry hacking cough. In severe cases, tracheal collapse can lead to breathing difficulties and persistent coughing.

Fungal Infections

Fungal infections like aspergillosis and valley fever can cause coughing in dogs. These infections are common in dogs that live in dusty environments or those with weakened immune systems. Symptoms of fungal infections may include a dry cough, loss of appetite, and weight loss.

Foreign Objects in the Airway

Dogs are curious animals that love exploring their surroundings. In some cases, they may inhale foreign objects like grass seeds, toys, or even food, which can cause irritation or obstruction in their airways. This irritation can lead to a dry or wet cough, depending on the location of the foreign object.

When to Seek Veterinary Care

If your dog’s cough persists for more than a few days or is accompanied by other symptoms like difficulty breathing, lethargy, or fever, it’s essential to seek veterinary care immediately. Your vet may perform a physical exam, conduct diagnostic tests like blood tests, x-rays, or bronchoscopy to determine the cause of the cough.

What You Can Do About Your Dog’s Cough

The management of a dog’s cough depends on the underlying cause. Here are a few tips to help alleviate your furry friend’s cough.

Provide Clean Air

Since many coughs are triggered by irritants in the air, it’s essential to provide clean air for your dog. You can do this by using air filters, keeping the air moist by using a humidifier, or avoiding smoking near your dog.

Herbal Remedies

Herbal remedies like honey, ginger, and licorice can soothe your dog’s throat and alleviate their cough. However, it’s crucial to consult your vet before administering any herbal remedies to your dog.

Cough Suppressants

Your vet may recommend cough suppressants to alleviate your dog’s cough. However, It is crucial to consult with your veterinarian before administering cough suppressants to avoid anti-tussive overdose.


In some cases, your dog may require specific medications like antibiotics or anti-fungal medication to treat an underlying infection or foreign object in their airways. It is essential to follow your vet’s instructions on medication administration and dosage.


A dog’s cough can be an indication of underlying head issues or be temporary. It is vital to understand the various triggers of dog’s cough and how to manage them effectively. By providing clean air, herbal remedies, cough suppressants, or visiting the veterinarian when necessary, you can help your furry friend return to their normal state.


  • Q: Can kennel cough be transmitted to humans?
  • Kennel cough (Bordetella) is primarily a canine disease and is not transmissible to humans.

  • Q: How is heart disease diagnosed in dogs?
  • Heart disease in dogs is diagnosed through clinical examinations, ultrasounds, electrocardiograms, chest x-rays, and blood tests.

  • Q: Can tracheal collapse be cured?
  • There is no cure for tracheal collapse. However, medications and lifestyle changes can help manage the symptoms.

  • Q: Can my dog recover from valley fever?
  • Most dogs that contract valley fever will recover with the appropriate treatment, which includes antifungal medication.


  • https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/common-conditions/coughing-dog/
  • https://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/respiratory/c_dg_coughing
  • https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/dog-coughing-when-to-call-the-vet#1

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