Dog Coughing: 6 Common Reasons Why

Knowing some of the most common causes of dog coughing can help you determine when you need to worry. Read on to find out more!

You’ve probably heard your dog cough before. Knowing some of the most common causes of dog coughing can help you determine when you need to worry.

Suppose you’ve noticed your dog coughing and are curious about the various causes of dog coughing. In that case, you should know that numerous conditions, ranging in severity from mild to life-threatening, can cause your dog to cough.

First off, the occasional coughing in a healthy dog is usually nothing to be concerned about. It’s part of everyday life for an animal.

However, like in humans, coughing in a dog can be a sign of illness if it becomes a constant or recurring problem.

Like us, dogs cough to get rid of dust, germs, and other stuff they breathe in.

Like us, dogs cough to get rid of dust, germs, and other stuff they breathe in. Also, like us, they sometimes get infections or viruses.

Why Do Dogs Cough?

As you know, a cough consists of a sudden, forceful expiration of air.

Coughing is the body’s natural protective mechanism for the respiratory system. The reflex’s purpose is to clear the airways of any foreign material.

Coughing helps dogs, like humans, clear foreign objects, mucus, or debris from their airways, allowing them to breathe more easily.

Remember, not all coughing is a sign that your dog is sick, so don’t be quick to panic when you hear your dog coughing.

For example, coughing in dogs can occur due to eating or drinking too quickly, inhaling something like pollen or dust that irritates the nasal passageway, or even because their breed is predisposed to it.

Types of Dog Coughs

Depending on what your dog’s cough sounds like and what is causing it, coughing could be nothing to worry about, or it could be something serious.

When your dog coughs, it is crucial to identify how it sounds so that your veterinarian can better understand what’s wrong with your dog’s health.

Consider each of the following sounds so you can describe them to your veterinarian:

  • Dry cough
  • Hacking cough
  • Coughing and gagging
  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Honking or wheezing

On top of that, try to determine the frequency of coughing. For example, is he or she coughing once every few minutes?

If your dog is coughing in its sleep or coughing up mucus, these are also important details to note because they could indicate something serious, especially if there is blood.

5 Common Causes of Dog Cough

Why Do Dogs Cough?

Coughing can be associated with a wide range of diseases in dogs. However, there will always be an underlying cause. Here are six of the most common reasons.

So follow below for more information regarding the common causes of coughing in dogs.

1. Foreign Materials

Foreign materials such as seeds, grass, and string can cause coughing if they enter the nose or irritate the airway.

They can travel down the airways and through the lung, causing an infection with a large amount of pus to develop in the space surrounding the lung and causing coughing.

This type of cough is usually followed by an attempt to retch, known as post-tussive retching, which makes it appear as if the animal is trying to get rid of something that has become lodged in the throat or upper airways.

2. Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is a highly contagious respiratory infection that causes dogs to cough. It is usually not severe and goes away on its own after a few days.

A deep, dry, hacking cough that sounds like a goose honk is common in dogs with kennel cough and occasionally in dogs with tracheal problems.

It can, however, become more severe in some cases, particularly in dogs that are very old, very young or have other health issues.

Most dogs have a mild infection, but some may develop pneumonia. Puppies and dogs of any age with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop pneumonia.

3. Pneumonia

Pneumonia renders your dog ill. This includes not eating, acting sluggishly, and, yes, coughing.

It is an inflammation of the lungs and airways caused by a bacterial infection. Pneumonia can also develop due to a secondary infection, such as canine influenza or kennel cough.

But while kennel cough can be treated without medication, pneumonia may necessitate immediate treatment, including fluids and antibiotics.

Senior dogs, like humans, are more susceptible to pneumonia and are more likely to develop serious complications.

4. Tracheal Collapse

I know it sounds terrible, but this is another cough-causing condition your dog can still live with. In tracheal collapse, the cough is often sounding like a goose honking.

This is a fairly common condition in which the cartilage rings that comprise the windpipe begin to collapse, making it difficult for air to pass from the nose and mouth to the lungs.

An obvious symptom is a honking cough when excited, which is often compared to a goose honking.

There is no single cause of the tracheal collapse, but factors such as a congenital disability and environmental factors may play a role. Small dogs are especially vulnerable to the condition.

5. Heart Disease

A cough can be caused by heart disease, but a faster breathing rate is the most common symptom. In addition, dogs who have heart disease frequently become tired more easily.

Furthermore, fluid can accumulate in a dog’s lungs due to congestive heart failure, especially at night or when lying down.

This is a severe condition, and if your dog has it, your veterinarian can devise a treatment plan that may significantly extend its life.

Middle-aged to older, small breed dogs are more likely to have heart disease

6. Heartworm Disease

Heartworms are spread by mosquito bites, which take larval forms of the parasite from one dog and pass them on to another. The disease is most common in regions that have lots of mosquitoes.

The larvae migrate to the newly infected dog’s heart and lungs, where they develop into spaghetti-like adults.

Furthermore, when heartworms reach your dog’s lungs, they begin to damage the tissue, causing coughing.


Coughing is a behavior that many dog parents fear, so what do you do if you hear your dog coughing?

First off, the occasional cough isn’t an issue, and not all coughing is a sign that your dog is sick.

Therefore, if your dog has only recently developed a mild cough and appears to be in good health, waiting a few days to see if the condition will resolve is reasonable.

However, while some occasional coughing is normal, persistent coughing is not. So, if the cough is particularly severe, worsens, or does not improve after a week or so, the best thing you can do to help your coughing dog is calling your vet.

Remember, regardless of how well you believe you’ve diagnosed the problem, your vet is the only one who can determine the best treatment plan for your dog’s specific needs.