PET CARE: It’s all in the cough

Written by on June 25, 2015 in Blogs, Featured, Pet Care - No comments
| Photo by Gianna DeCarlo

| Photo by Gianna DeCarlo

Dogs make all sorts of sounds, some of which are just part of your dog’s personality. A lot can be said with their noises like telling you they’re hungry or wanting to go outside, it’s how they communicate. Their sounds can also indicate health concerns which could be their only form of communication to rely on when something isn’t right.

Coughing is one of the most ignored symptoms by pet owners, but coughing can speak volumes about numerous health issues. Let’s break down what’s behind the cough.

Tracheal collapse. This is a recurrent episodic cough that can typically sound like a “goose honk” and typically found in small breed dogs. The shape of their trachea can be a little different than the average dog. When pressure changes within the airway the trachea collapses. This issue can be chronic, congenital, progressive or acquired and sometimes infectious. It can cause exercise intolerance, respiratory distress, and gagging.

Reverse sneezing. This is actually sneezing but sounds like a cough. Small breeds and brachycephalic dogs, such as Pugs, are more prone to reverse sneezing. It is a spasm of the throat and soft palate that is triggered by an irritant such as excitement, collar tugging, and exercise. Instead of the air going out like a normal sneeze, the air is rapidly (and noisily) pulled in through the nose.

Heart enlargement and Heart disease. This is one of the more important reasons to see the vet for coughing because heart issues can be treated if caught early. There are several reasons heart problems cause coughing due to the anatomical relationship with the lungs. Leaky heart valves allow fluid to accumulate in the lungs as well as an enlarged heart can apply pressure on the lungs and airway. In addition to coughing, other symptoms include decreased appetite, fatigue, weakness, and a bluish tongue.

Kennel cough (Bordetella). This combo of viral and bacterial intruders is highly contagious and is spread in close quarters. Dogs are more prone to exposure when around a lot of dogs like dog parks, boarding, and grooming. Kennel cough symptoms can occur 2-14 days after exposure producing a deep, dry, hacking cough. Though it is not life threatening, antibiotics and possible cough suppressants can help ease the cough.

Aspiration pneumonia. This is also called “inhalation pneumonia” that produces a wet gargling cough that could be life threatening. The lungs can become inflamed or infected by inhaling a foreign substance, regurgitation of gastric acids, or vomiting. Other symptoms may include difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, discharge from the nose, and intolerance of exercise.

There are several other health concerns associated with coughing. So let the cough speak to you and take it as a sign to visit your vet!

By Adriene Buisch

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