A respiratory disease is usually the reason behind your pet’s cough. Nevertheless, other non-respiratory issues may also cause your canine companion to develop a cough.
Like humans, dogs are social creatures. They associate with humans and fellow canines. While your dog does not have the emotional range of humans, she can sniff and slurp. This makes her susceptible to picking up germs and microbes.
And like humans, dogs can fall sick. These diseases have many symptoms and coughing and gagging will be among those.
Now, a little digression here as we make a distinction between coughing and gagging. When your dog coughs, she is carrying out an involuntary action in which she tries to expel air from her lungs. It is usually accompanied by a sharp sound.
Gagging, on the other hand, comes in the form of a muzzled sound and is characterized by choking. It can be a sign that your dear fido has something stuck in her throat.
Respiratory disorders are often a result of microbial infections—caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites.
Different types of microorganisms live in the respiratory tract of your pooch. These are largely harmless because your pet has developed immunity to them.
However, when your doggie gets another infection that weakens her immune system, the hitherto harmless microbes may become dangerous to your dog. This can cause her to fall ill and start coughing, among other symptoms.
Poor sanitation or environmental conditions can increase your pooch’s chances of getting an infection.
Kennel Cough is the common name for canine tracheobronchitis, a prevalent infection that attacks the trachea (windpipe) and bronchi (airways) of dogs.
This canine infection has some similarities with the common cold in humans. It is not caused by one particular microbe. Rather, several viruses and bacteria are responsible for this infection in your furry friend.
If your doggie mingles with other dogs around, she can get the infection from an infected dog. Once your dog takes in air or food containing any of these bacteria or viruses, they go to her respiratory tract. Here, they cause your doggie’s trachea and larynx (voice box) to be inflamed. The result is the persistent, forceful choking cough you see in your doggo.
Kennel cough can sound terrible and appear to be painful for your dog. Nevertheless, it is oftentimes a mild condition. Your dog should be able to fight it and recover without treatment in a matter of days. However, if the coughing does not subside after a couple of days, you should get medical help from a veterinarian.
Coughing is only one of the numerous symptoms of canine distemper. Paramyxovirus, the virus responsible for the disease, can also affect other mammals such as gray foxes, ferrets and raccoons.
Your doggo will get it from associating with an infected dog or coming in contact with a wild animal. She can also get it if she gets in contact with infected urine, blood, saliva or contaminated food.
This highly contagious disease affects different systems of the body. If your canine companion gets this virus in her system, it can cause damage to her gastrointestinal, immune, nervous, and respiratory systems. If her respiratory system is affected, she may have difficulty breathing and it is usual to notice a hacking cough.
As deadly as distemper is, you can prevent it by getting the appropriate vaccination program for your doggie.
Colds And Flu
Just like in human beings, when your furry friend catches a cold, it is infected with one or more members of a large group of viruses. These viruses are all categorized together because they cause similar symptoms, of which coughing is one. Other symptoms include sore throat, running eyes and nose.
Some of these viruses cause serious illnesses while others are mild. Your dog should be able to overcome most viruses if she has a strong immune system.
Canine influenza, like cold, is also caused by numerous varieties of the influenza A virus. Dogs have not been previously exposed to some of these strains, like equine influenza that is transmitted from horses. Hence, they have not developed natural immunity for them. Therefore, influenza can be fatal for your pooch. In addition, they are airborne and highly contagious.
Pneumonia is a bacterial or fungal infection that leads to inflammation of the lungs. There are many bacteria that can cause pneumonia in dogs.
The most common of these are Bordetella bronchiseptica, Streptococcus zooepidemicus, Pasteurella multocida, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella pneumonia, Escherichia coli, and Mycoplasma species. Of all these, B. bronchiseptica is highly infectious and your pooch can easily contract it from an infected dog in the neighborhood.
Fungal pneumonia is caused by fungi such as Cryptococcus neoformans, Histoplasma capsulatum, Coccidioides immitis, Blastomyces dermatitidis, Pneumocystis jiroveci, Aspergillus spp, and Candida spp. Your fido can get this disease if she inhales spores. Thankfully, fungal pneumonia is less common in dogs.
A productive cough (one that is accompanied by mucus or phlegm) is a symptom of pneumonia.
Other Respiratory Conditions
Infections are not always the cause of all respiratory dysfunctions. Some may be congenital while the causes of others are still unknown. Here are a few of them.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Also known as chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is the gradual inflammation of the lung.
The main implication of this condition is the restriction of airflow into and out of the lungs. If your furry friend has this condition, she will find it difficult to breathe. As a result, she will develop a persistent dry cough that can last for an extended period, usually more than a month.
The cause of COPD in dogs is not yet known. Moreover, this condition is irreversible and progressive, which means that it will continue to get worse. The good news, however, is that with early detection and proper health care, the effects of the disease can be mitigated and your dog can live a normal life for as long as possible.
Trachea Collapse is more common in small dog breeds. If you have a small dog like Chihuahua, Yorkshire Terrier, Maltese, and Dachshund, a honking cough may mean that she is suffering from this condition.
Trachea Collapse is the progressive deterioration of the cartilages that make up the wall of the trachea. Once this begins to happen, you will notice the characteristic honking cough from your dog.
The exact cause of this condition remains unknown, although it is believed to be largely congenital. In any case, it is a serious condition and your dear fido may need surgery to extend her life.
A heart Disease may be at the heart of your fido’s disturbing cough. Leaky valves or weak heart muscles will put more pressure on your doggie’s lungs and airways and this can be manifested in your dog’s weak, continuous cough.
Many factors can lead to heart disease in your dog. Certain breeds tend to develop heart conditions at some point.
For example, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are susceptible to acquired mitral valve disease while canine dilated cardiomyopathy is common among Boxers, Cocker Spaniels, and Great Danes. These are congenital conditions and there’s pretty much little you can do to prevent them.
Other factors that can cause heart abnormalities in your furry friend include nutrition, obesity, and age. Infections like heartworm disease can also cause heart problems. Fortunately, many of these can be prevented.
A chronic cough that produces phlegm, or sometimes blood, can be an early sign of lung cancer. There are two main types of lung cancer. Primary lung cancer originates from the lung. Tumors can also originate from other parts of the body before spreading to the lung. This type of cancer is known as metastatic lung cancer.
Primary lung tumors are not common in dogs. When they occur, they are usually malignant, meaning they are deadly. Preventing metastatic cancer depends on detecting the tumor on time before it spreads to the lungs. This is why it is important to seek the help of a veterinarian once you observe your pooch coughing.