When your dog coughs, you may think he has a cold, especially as the temperature starts to drop. And that may be what it is…Common cold is not just for people: dogs can get colds too!
Like humans, there are many viruses that can cause coughing and cold-like symptoms in dogs. But it is also important to remember cold symptoms do not always mean your dog has a cold.
Coughing and sneezing happen for many reasons, including allergies, viruses, or bacterial infection.
Occasional coughing is normal in a dog. But if your dog coughs a lot or seems unable to stop coughing, it can be a sign of a serious disease, especially if there are changes in breathing sounds or patterns, including heart disease or lung problems, so it is important to discover the source.
Types of Dog Cough
“A dog’s normal cough can range from simple gagging, a short series of coughs, or even a dramatic reverse sneeze — a sometimes startling honking series of rapid, deep inhalations, usually made with the nose stretched straight out from the body and ears flattened to the head” Elwood Vet.
❆ Deep, dry cough — This could be a sign of bronchitis or other respiratory illness such as kennel cough. Nasal discharge, fever, listlessness, vomiting, diarrhoea, or other signs of illness often accompany viral coughing.
❆ High-pitched gagging — This could indicate that your dog has something blocking his airway, making it difficult to breathe, or that something is irritating his upper respiratory tract. See a vet immediately if this persists for a few minutes as something stuck in the breathing passages could be fatal.
❆ Deep, wet cough — This gargling sound during a cough can indicate the presence of fluid deep in your dog’s lungs. One giveaway sign of a serious cough is difficult breathing even when your dog is not coughing. Heart problems, heartworm, and other conditions can cause fluid to collect around the lungs.
❆ Severe cough with difficulty breathing — Requires immediate medical care.
Make sure you take notes and describe the sound of your dog’s cough when you call your veterinarian, since this can help determine whether it is an emergency or if it could be a contagious disease like kennel cough or canine influenza.
Common Causes of Dog Cough
A deep, dry, honking cough could be a symptom of kennel cough or tracheobronchitis (upper airway infection). Kennel cough is a highly contagious disease, it normally causes mild illness and discomfort, but it can descend into the lungs causing serious problems like pneumonia or chronic bronchitis.
It is recommended that you keep your dog away from other dogs until the infectious stage is over.
A high-pitched, gagging cough can be suggestive of upper airway irritation, infection or even a partial blockage.
A foreign object that makes its way into your dog’s oesophagus can be life threatening and requires immediate veterinary attention.
A wet, phlegmy “moist” cough could be a symptom of lower airway or lung (pulmonary) problem. Those wet, gargling sounds indicate that there may be fluid in your dog’s lungs. The breathing will be difficult even when the dog is not coughing. This requires immediate veterinary attention.
Toy breeds are at an increased risk of tracheal collapse. One of the symptoms of tracheal collapse is a honking cough that sounds like a goose. This sound may be heard more often when your dog is pulling on the lead (make sure to always use a harness, rather than a collar). Obese dogs are at high risk too of developing tracheal collapse. It can also show up in hot, humid weather during exercise.
There are many types of heart disease in dogs. When the heart is not functioning properly, fluid can start accumulating in the lungs.
Dogs affected may start coughing as the disease progresses. This type of coughing mainly happens when your dog is sleeping or lying down and means that fluid is building up in your dog’s lungs. This is a serious symptom, so be sure to talk to your veterinarian about treatment options.
Less Common Causes of Dog Cough
There are some other, less common causes of coughing:
- Canine Influenza Virus
- Chronic Bronchitis
Natural Remedies For Dog Cough
When it comes to colds and other infections, the first step is prevention.
Healthy dogs are less likely to get sick, and if they do, they usually recover quicker. Making sure your dog’s immune system is in a good condition, is a great way to keep him healthy.
When a dog starts to cough, some pet owners reach for cough medicine to ease their pet’s discomfort. But cough medicine is not the right choice. It can contain toxic ingredients that could make your dog much sicker than he already is.
The following Natural Remedies will work in case of mild coughs, sniffles, sore throat, upper airways inflammation and early stages of kennel cough. Before diagnosing what kind of cough your dog is exhibiting make sure you always consult a vet.
A kennel cough is not a condition which can be cured, but its symptoms can be alleviated, Natural Treatments are focused on managing symptoms and improving immune response, rather than removing the problem. They can make the coughing less rough and provide a coating for the dog’s throat which makes coughing less uncomfortable.
Best of all, they are safe and effective without the risk of side effects (following the correct guidelines).
Remedy #1 Water
Ensuring your dog has fresh, clean water is the first and most important dog coughing treatment. Your dog may be dehydrated.
Remedy #2 Probiotics And Prebiotics
More than 80% of your dog’s immune system is in his gut and it is supported by the healthy bacteria that live there.
The healthy bacteria in your dog’s gut ferment soluble fiber, creating short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that help improve your dog’s health and boost immunity. SCFAs can:
- Discourage growth of harmful bacteria
- Build T-cells, important white blood cells of the immune system which reduce inflammation
- Help body absorb nutrients
- Keep the gut lining strong so that undigested food, bacteria and toxins stay within the gut
But for your dog to gain these benefits, he needs a population of beneficial bacteria in his gut. This is where prebiotics and probiotics come in.
Probiotics contain healthy bacteria that colonize your dog’s gut and provide health benefits, such as restoring his microbiome (the microbiome is the community of bacteria, yeast and other microorganisms that live in and on your dog).
Prebiotics are the soluble fiber that beneficial bacteria ferment so that they can produce SCFAs. They help make the probiotics more effective.
There are many whole food sources of prebiotics including garlic, and honey.
Remedy #3 Honey and Coconut Oil/MCT Oil
The most common natural remedy for dogs with cold, kennel cough, or tracheobronchitis, is honey. Because of its antibacterial properties, honey is extremely effective at soothing coughs.
Manuka honey, which is usually imported from New Zealand, is the most preferred type of honey, as it is a better antioxidant, antibiotic, antifungal and antiviral than other honeys.
Manuka honey is also a natural prebiotic that boosts good bacteria in your dog’s gut, which will strengthen your dog’s immune system so that he can better defend himself from colds and infections.
In one study, researchers compared honey to common cough suppressing drugs: honey was more effective than these drugs .
In recent years, it has become popular to supplement the honey with coconut oil since it contains fatty acids that can help your dog recover faster. Although, I prefer MCT oil (lauric acid excluded) over coconut oil, as it is a much healthier alternative that contains only the good fatty acids.
Honey and coconut oil / MCT oil are naturally palatable supplements, so it should not be difficult to get your dog to eat the remedy. Most dogs love the sweet taste, so just put honey on a spoon, and your dog should happily lick it up.
Small or medium size dog, you can feed half a teaspoon of honey.
Large size dog, one full teaspoon.
Repeat the dose two / three times a day.
When using coconut oil, the recommended dose is half a teaspoon per 5 kg of body weight, and you should divide this up during the day.
For example, if your dog weighs 15 kg pounds, you can administer half a teaspoon in the morning, one at lunchtime and one at night. Your dog’s stool may become loose or greasy.
Cautions: you should not use honey for dogs with diabetes and for dogs under a year old.
Remedy #4 Garlic
Studies show that garlic reduces the probabilities of your dog getting sick and if your dog does get sick, it can also help reduce the symptoms .
This is because garlic contains a compound called alliin. When you chop garlic, the alliin combines with enzymes and converts to allicin. Allicin quickly converts into compounds that boost white blood cells.
Like honey, garlic is also a whole food source of prebiotics.
When given in appropriate amounts, garlic can be greatly beneficial to your dog.
You will need to use fresh, raw, and organic garlic for the best results.
Peel and mince the cloves.
Let it sit for 10 minutes, then measure it out and add it to your dog’s dish.
For every 5 kg, give your dog 1/3 tsp of chopped garlic (fresh, raw, and organic).
Caution: there are some dogs who should not eat garlic. This includes pregnant dogs, puppies, Akitas, Shiba Inus, and dogs on certain medications.
RELATED: Garlic To Dogs.
Remedy #5 Oregano Oil
Add a few drops of oregano oil mixed in with a carrier oil and drizzled on your dog’s food. Oil of oregano kills fungus and bacteria that can cause coughing, but do not overuse it — oil of oregano is a “hot” oil that will irritate the mucous passages when administered undiluted or in larger quantities.
Remedy #6 Wild Cherry Bark Syrup
Found in many natural food markets, wild cherry bark syrup contains raw honey, apple cider vinegar, wild cherry bark, propolis, elecampane root, rose hips, licoricey root, slippery elm bark, peppermint oil, eucalyptus oil, lemon oil and ginger root (make sure the version you find does not contain any preservatives or other non-natural derivative ingredients).
You can mix this syrup with honey to make it taste sweeter.
Small or medium size dog, you can feed half a teaspoon.
Large size dog, one full teaspoon.
Repeat the dose two / three times a day.
Remedy #7 Aromatherapy
Have you ever used a humidifier to treat your own winter cold? Steam opens up the bronchial passages and keeps them nice and moist—and it works for dogs, too.
For an extra cold-soothing boost, you can add a few drops of dog-safe essential oils.
Certain botanicals have soothing properties, and when used properly, can effectively ease cold symptoms in dogs. However, essential oils may be overpowering or even dangerous to pets so they must be diluted.
Here are some of the most popular essential oils used to treat colds in dogs:
- Eucalyptus oil – has antiseptic properties and may ease congestion
- Peppermint oil – eases congestion and invigorates
- Lavender oil – soothes and calms
A little bit of aromatherapy goes a long way. Even while congested, your dog has a powerful nose.
Remember, you and your dog do not have the same taste. Do not assume that because you love the smell of a certain essential oil, your dog will like it as well.
Always allow him to leave the room when you diffuse oils. If your dog regularly leaves when you are diffusing an oil, do not use it in your home or any of your dog’s spaces.
Consult your vet before introducing essential oils to your dog’s care routine, and always use diluted products.
RELATES: Handling Essential Oils Safely For Dogs.
Remedy #8 Chicken soup, Bone Broth (and other fluids)
A good old-fashioned cure that has all the benefits for dogs too. Dogs should not eat soup made for humans, which is high in sodium and often contains dog-unfriendly ingredients. But a homemade, or a ready-made dog-safe, soup and bone broth will be greatly appreciated and your dog will benefit from its healing properties.
Broth has one other curative quality for dogs: it makes food smell and taste better. When your dog has a stuffy nose, he cannot smell his food, and may lose his appetite. Make your dog’s meal more tasty, and more hydrating, by adding some broth.
In addition, make sure your dog drinks plenty of water while they are sick.
Hydration is key to curing both doggies and humans colds!
RELATED: Why Your Dog Needs Bone Broth.
Remedy #9 Rest
Help your dog get better faster by making sure he gets plenty of rest. Limit activity while your dog recovers from a cold, and provide a warm, dry place for them to sleep.
Pet-safe heating pads or heated beds provide a comfy place to rest, and the heat can help loosen congestion.
If you cannot be around to take care of your little friend while he is sick, you can always count on a loving yourlondonpetsitter.com sitter to provide the attention they need while you are gone.
There are no harmful risks associated with these natural methods.
Just like a human common cold, a dog’s cold or kennel cough can worsen, or it can get better. You should visit a vet if symptoms persist longer than ten days, or if you notice symptoms other than just the cough, these can include:
- Green nasal discharge
- Severe coughing
- Breathing trouble