Like people, dogs may cough and hack on occasion to get rid of something caught in their throat, but if this hacking continues, there may be more than just a bit of fuzz tickling his larynx.
Read on to discover some common reasons why your beloved fur baby may be hacking-up-a-storm, fuzz not included!
Canine Kennel Cough
According to Dr. Becker of Healthy Pets, kennel cough is a very common viral disease which affects the upper respiratory system of dogs and especially puppies. It’s medical name is infectious tracheobronchitis or Bordetella and is mostly triggered by the presence of the parainfluenza virus and a bacteria called Bordetella bronchiseptica.
Once the two of these find their way into your dog, it’s a perfect storm for some serious hacking.
Symptoms of Kennel Cough
There are several symptoms of kennel cough which include:
- a deep, dry hacking cough
- nasal discharge
- loss of appetite
Kennel cough may also cause your dog to hack after vigorous exercise. Symptoms of kennel cough can appear anywhere from 2 to 20 days after exposure.
Where Can My Dog Contract Kennel Cough?
Since this disease is viral and contagious your pup can pick it up by infected dogs sneezing and coughing (like a human cold). This virus favors warm crowded areas that are not well ventilated like boarding kennels, veterinarian offices, pet stores, breeding facilities and animal shelters.
Even after the symptoms have resolved themselves, the infection can remain “infectious” for 6 to 14 weeks, which means it can still be passed along to other dogs.
Treatment of Kennel Cough
Kennel cough symptoms can last between 10 and 20 days and can recur if your dog becomes stressed (this lowers its immunity system). Some veterinarians will recommend letting the virus run its course, while others may prescribe an antibiotic to help your dog recover. Dog’s that are already compromised physically must be monitored to make sure the kennel cough doesn’t turn into pneumonia, so discuss this possibility with your doggy doctor.
Kennel cough can be a serious problem with hacking being one of the first signs. If your dog is coughing and isn’t getting better or there are other symptoms present, be sure to call your veterinarian for an appointment to get it checked out.
Something Stuck in Throat
Some dogs are notorious for eating whatever they find lying around on the ground or the floor. If this “foreign” object happens to get stuck going down, it may cause hacking, coughing and gagging, depending on the size, shape and texture of the object.
Other signs to look for is the dog licking its lips or making swallowing motions (which could also be signs of a sore throat).
If your dog continues to have these symptoms, it’s best to get him or her to a vet for immediate care, as an object left in the throat can cause damage (like scratches) which could lead to an infection.
Although, not a common reason for dogs hacking, a tracheal collapse (windpipe) is possible, so it needs to be addressed. A tracheal collapse is more common in smaller breeds of dogs and is usually chronic and progressive. This situation in dogs can be caused by a congenital problem (there since birth) or one that occurs as the dog goes through life—being tugged on or picked up by its collar.
Symptoms of a Tracheal Collapse
- sudden attack of dry coughing that sounds like a goose honk
- signs of exercise intolerance (shortness of breath)
- respiratory distress
- gagging while eating or drinking.
- lips, nose, gums of dog turn blue when excited or stressed
If you suspect your dog may be suffering from this condition, be sure to make an appointment with your doggy doctor. He or she will most likely perform an x-ray on your dog’s neck region or even use a small camera to scope the throat.
Treatment of a Tracheal Collapse
If your veterinarian does diagnose a tracheal collapse the treatment options may vary depending on how severe the case is.
For mild cases, your vet may opt to use medications such as cough suppressants, antispasmodics, bronchodilators, and sedatives to help reduce coughing spasms and the associated anxiety. He or she may also recommend supplements to help rebuild the damaged cartilage in the trachea.
In addition, it is also recommended to only use a harness to walk your dog (NO collars as this will put pressure on the windpipe) keep your pet’s environment smoke free and to also put your dog on a diet if it is overweight, as this will make it harder for your pet to breathe.
According to PetMD, heartworm is a serious condition that affects dogs of all ages. The disease is exactly as the name suggest—worms in the heart—and is caused by the organism Dirofilaria immitis, a parasitic nematode (roundworm).
Heartworm is carried by larvae-infected mosquitoes, that then transmit it to your pet through their bite, directly into your dog’s bloodstream and to its heart where the worms will hatch and begin to grow.
Dogs that live in warmer, tropical climates are more susceptible to this disease; however, it has been found in all parts of the US and some parts of Canada.
Symptoms of Heartworm
Heartworms is diagnosed in three categories depending on the severity of the infestation;
- may not show symptoms
- occasional cough
- unusual intolerance to exercise.
- may show symptoms of anemia (low red blood cells)
- exercise intolerance
- fainting spells
- right-sided chronic heart failure.
- high blood pressure
- labored breathing
- extremely rapid heartbeat
If your dog has not been treated with a yearly dose of heartworm medication and is showing any of these signs, it is wise to bring it to a vet for immediate diagnosis and possible treatment.
Depending on the severity and class of heartworm infestation in your canine the treatments can vary from specific medications designed to kill the worms, to hospitalization to remove the worms. Your vet will make this determination based on the amount of worms present in your dog’s heart.
We’re Done Hacking…
A hacking cough in your dog may not always be a sign of severe illness or injury, but it’s always best to have a hacking or prolonged cough checked out by a veterinarian.