Why is My Dog Coughing?

Why is My Dog Coughing?

Unlike humans, dogs can’t tell you when they aren’t feeling well. As a result, canine illnesses can easily go unnoticed. However, some symptoms such as excessive coughing are a clear sign that something is wrong with your pup. 

There are many different explanations for why your dog may be coughing. Here are the most common reasons why your pup might be coughing.

Kennel cough 

Coughing is a natural method for your dog’s body to get rid of irritants or obstructions in their airway. But if your dog is coughing non-stop for an extended period of time, they may have caught a respiratory disease known as Kennel Cough.

This is a highly contagious disease that spreads quickly between dogs. If you have taken your canine to a social gathering or a park where they interacted with other pups recently, they may have contracted the disease from them.

Symptoms of Kennel Cough include:

  • Heavy coughing that includes a honking sound
  • Excessive mucous discharge from the nose
  • Sneezing
  • Lack of energy
  • Mild fever

If your dog has a mild case of Kennel Cough, they may recover themselves after a week or two of rest. For more serious cases, it’s best to go to your vet. They are likely to prescribe antibiotics to reduce the chance of a secondary infection occurring and cough medication may also be prescribed if their coughing is getting out of hand.

Tracheal collapse

Another possible explanation for your dog’s excessive “honking” cough is a tracheal collapse. This occurs when the windpipe’s cartilage softens and partially sags, blocking the inside of the trachea. Small dog breeds such as Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, Toy Poodles and Yorkshire Terriers are more likely to develop this condition due to genetic factors.

Symptoms of tracheal collapse include:

  • Heavy coughing with a honking sound
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Gums turning a bluish color
  • Obesity

A severe tracheal collapse may be deadly if it causes extreme respiratory distress. This condition can’t be cured, but it can be managed in the long run. Veterinarians can prescribe cough suppressants and/or bronchodilating medications to reduce the coughing and open up your dog’s airways. 


Your dog’s coughing could also be due to allergies. Canines of all breeds and backgrounds can suffer from an allergic reaction to certain substances. Pollen, dust, and smoke are the most common offenders in this category.

If your dog is experiencing an allergic reaction to airborne particles, they may show:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Nasal congestion
  • Red eyes

Excessive exposure to these particles can cause your dog to develop allergic pneumonitis, which is characterized by inflammation and a long term cough. This can be treated by getting rid of the offending agent and then giving your dog prescribed corticosteroids.

All of these illnesses and conditions are just a few of the many reasons why your dog may be coughing. Some of these can be deadly, so it’s important to bring your dog to a veterinarian if they appear to be coughing excessively.

Looking for veterinary care in the Charlotte area? Little Friends Pet Sitting & Dog Walking offers an extensive resource page focused on pet-related products and businesses including a full list of the top veterinary hospitals and specialists. With over 10 years of experience, Little Friends is proudly one of the largest and most trusted pet care companies in Charlotte, NC.