Uncommon Reasons Your Dog May Be Coughing

When you hear your dog coughing, the first thing that may go through your mind is “The dog has kennel cough.”  However, if the veterinarian cannot find out the reason for your dog’s cough, you may have to consider some unusual things to find out why the dog is coughing.  Here are some things to look at:

  • Rat poison.  If your dog has found and consumed some rat poison, it can cause coughing.  Rat poison works by blocking the animal’s ability to clot blood.  This means that something very minor can cause the dog to bleed internally.  As the blood flows into the abdomen, it makes it hard for the dog to breathe and he can start coughing.  This is a full out emergency and the dog needs to see a vet as soon as possible or he will bleed to death.
  • Obesity.  This is bad for a number of reasons such as heart health and arthritis.  Surprisingly, being obese may cause the extra fat in the dog’s body to compress the trachea and lungs.  This makes it hard to breath and the dog will start coughing.  The only way to treat this is by putting your dog on a diet.  It is a good idea to check in with your veterinarian and find out a safe diet to put your dog on.
  • Grass awns.  Some types of grass have sharp seed capsules known as grass awns.  They can attach to the dog’s skin and then penetrate into the lungs.  This can cause not only coughing, but abscesses in the lung, infections, and various other lung problems.  Your veterinarian may be able to retrieve the grass awn using an endoscope, or he may have to cut into the dog’s chest cavity to retrieve it.  It has to go, though, or it can cause death.
  • Lungworms.  Despite their name, lungworms start out in intestines.  A dog may get them when eating prey that has them.  The lungworms then migrate into the heart before they finally make their way to the lung.  This causes the dog to cough and have problems breathing.  These worms are treating with a medication given to the dog.  It kills the worms.  If the dog is badly infested, he will need to stay at the veterinarian’s office to make sure he does not have a reaction to the dead worms after being given the medicine.
  • Medication side effects.  Some medications cause coughing as a side effect.  ACE inhibitors, for example, can cause a persistent dry, hacking cough.  It is usually worse at night.  However, it may not be the ACE inhibitor that is causing the coughing.  ACE inhibitors are used to treat heart disease and that also causes coughing.

It is a good idea to take your dog to the veterinarian any time he has a persistent cough.  Usually, the cough will be caused by the usual culprits: heart disease, heartworms, bronchitis, or kennel cough.  Sometimes, however, your veterinarian will have to look deeper to find one of these uncommon causes of the dog’s cough.