Veterinarian Column: Pet Cough

by Alice's Dog & Cat獣医師

Since the spread of the new coronavirus, people tend to be more sensitive to people's coughs, but what about pets' coughs? Just like humans, dogs and cats have two types of coughs: physiological coughs and coughs caused by illnesses. Cough caused by illness requires treatment, but some owners choose to keep an eye on their pet because they don't notice it when it's a cough or because their dog seems to be doing well other than coughing. In this article, we will explain the causes, remedies, and treatments for cough in dogs and cats.

■Causes of cough

Alice's Dog & Cat Veterinarian Column Pet Cough

Coughing occurs by stimulating cough receptors in the body. There are four possible stimuli that can cause coughing:

  • mechanical stimulation

・Dust, foreign matter

・Bronchial compression

・Compression of the trachea and bronchi due to heart enlargement or tumor

  • chemical irritation

・Irritation, inhalation of toxic gas, etc.

  • inflammatory stimulus
  • temperature stimulation

・Inhalation of cold air

◎Cough to watch

A temporary cough, such as a cough caused by dust or cold air, is a physiological response.

◎Cough caused by leash traction

If your dog coughs when you pull the leash every time you take him for a walk, the collar or harness may not be fitting properly. Even if your dog is healthy, if the dog continues to cough while being towed on a leash, it will put strain on its trachea. Changing the harness may help reduce the frequency of coughing. A Y- shaped harness that does not put strain on the trachea is recommended.

■Illness that causes cough


A typical disease is canine infectious trachea/bronchitis (kennel cough), which is common in puppies.

Kennel cough will improve naturally if the cough is mild and the patient has a healthy appetite, but if it becomes severe, complications such as pneumonia may occur and death may occur. The cause is a combination of infections such as viruses and bacteria. Treatment is antibiotics, antitussives, bronchodilators, and nebulizers.

Alice's Dog & Cat Veterinarian Column Pet Cough

Tracheal collapse

Tracheal collapse is a disease in which the cylindrical trachea collapses. In the early stages, a temporary dry cough may be seen, but as the disease progresses, it becomes a goose-like cough and becomes difficult to breathe. The exact cause is unknown, but possible causes include genetics, high temperature and humidity, frequent barking, and leash traction.

Treatment includes medication tailored to the symptoms, but there is no complete cure. In some cases, surgery may be required.

cat asthma

Symptoms of feline asthma include paroxysmal coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing. The cause is unknown, but it is thought that it may develop or worsen due to smelly substances such as cigarette smoke, house dust, and air fresheners, as well as viral and bacterial infections. If you have trouble breathing, you need emergency treatment. Once diagnosed with asthma, it is also important to avoid possible allergens as much as possible. It is controlled using steroids and bronchodilators.

Alice's Dog & Cat Veterinarian Column Pet Cough

Heart disease

A typical example is mitral regurgitation, which often occurs in older small dogs. Symptoms include a dry cough. Coughing occurs when the heart enlarges and puts pressure on the trachea. As the disease progresses, you may faint when excited or develop pulmonary edema, making it difficult to breathe. The important thing is to detect it early, provide appropriate treatment, and slow its progression.


Pneumonia causes symptoms such as cough and fever. Causes include recent viral, fungal, and parasitic infections, allergies, and aspiration. We diagnose the cause of pneumonia using X-rays and blood tests and provide appropriate treatment.


Cough is a symptom of tumors that develop in the lungs, trachea, mediastinum, or larynx.

◎Cough that requires a visit to a veterinary hospital

Alice's Dog & Cat Veterinarian Column Pet Cough

If you are having difficulty breathing: If you are having trouble breathing or feel exhausted, it is an emergency and you should seek medical attention immediately.

Puppy cough: Kennel cough may be the cause, and may resolve on its own, but if your dog coughs frequently, see a doctor.

Cough in older animals: Possible heart disease. Early detection is important.

Chronic cough: Regardless of your age, chronic cough may indicate a collapsed trachea or tumor, so please see a doctor.

Coughs in pets vary depending on the cause, such as a hoarse cough, a wheezing cough, a cough that sounds like something is stuck in the throat, a cough that sounds like vomiting, and a gurgling cough that sounds like a goose. I will do If you feel like throwing up, you may mistake it for nausea. Is your pet coughing? If you feel this way, record the video and consult your veterinarian.

Also, avoid using collars or harnesses that put pressure on the trachea to avoid putting pressure on the respiratory system of dogs with chronic coughing conditions.