Why is My Dog Coughing: Top 6 Reasons

Has your dog been coughing lately? Are you concerned about what could be causing this symptom? What are the most common reasons why a dog might be coughing, and are any of them an emergency?

In the article below, we’ll help you learn more about what could be causing your dog to cough. With the help of this information, you should be able to determine when your dog should see a vet, and when you can wait and see how her symptoms progress. Read through the article below to learn more.

Mild Causes

There are a few reasons why your dog might have a mild cough that does not last for long or is slightly sporadic.


Allergies are one possible cause of coughing symptoms in dogs. If your dog has seasonal or pollen-related allergies, she may begin coughing at certain times of the year more often than at others.

Additionally, some dogs have asthma, which is not the same as allergies but can be similar in appearance. Your vet will help you determine whether or not your dog has allergies or asthma, and if these problems could be contributing to her cough.

Dry air

During the winter months, when the air is dry and cold outside and dry and warm inside, your dog may develop a cough. This type of coughing is typically aggravated when you run the heater in your home, and it can be relieved with the help of a humidifier.

Dogs who have coughs caused by dry air may be prone to this problem as they get older. Dry air coughs may also be aggravated by other underlying health problems, so if your dog already has an illness or condition, it may make this type of coughing worse. This is a common problem for many dogs.

dog coughing in Wilmington, DE

Moderate Causes

Some other causes that might cause a more moderate or even severe cough in dogs is canine infectious respiratory disease (CIRD), which includes diseases such as kennel cough and influenza.

Respiratory infection

Respiratory infections can be viral or bacterial, and in some cases, they may even be fungal. If your dog has a viral respiratory infection, she will simply need to wait it out and let it run its course. If she has a bacterial infection, she may need to be treated with antibiotics. In both cases, a round of steroids may also help her get better fast.

Respiratory infections are much more common in dogs who have not been vaccinated against the most likely types of canine illnesses. Keep your dog up to date on her vaccinations to prevent this risk if she is exposed to other dogs.

Kennel cough

Technically, kennel cough is a type of bacterial or viral respiratory infection. However, it stands on its own as a problem that can affect almost any dog who hasn’t been vaccinated against it. If your dog has recently spent time in a boarding facility and has come home with a cough, kennel cough is the likely culprit.

The good news is that kennel cough typically gets better on its own within a couple of weeks. In the meantime, however, your dog may have an uncomfortable cough with a loud, goose-honk noise that accompanies it.

Severe Causes

If your dog has a severe and worrying cough, take them to the vet right away.

Blocked airway

If your dog swallows or inhales a foreign object, such as a broken piece of a toy, she may experience a blocked airway. A fully blocked airway may cause an immediate emergency, but even a partially blocked airway should be treated as an emergency as well.

It is a good idea to learn how to perform canine CPR and the canine Heimlich maneuver in case this ever happens to your dog. Even if you can remove the blockage, take your dog to the emergency vet following this type of crisis, as she may have damage that needs to be treated.

Heart disease

Congestive heart failure and other types of heart disease may cause a lasting cough. If you know your dog has already been diagnosed with this type of condition, you don’t have to go to the vet every time you notice her coughing. However, you should monitor her cough for any changes.

Heartworm disease also causes a significant cough. The longer heartworm disease persists, the worse the cough may become. Your dog may have other signs of heartworm disease too, including becoming easily winded when she is active or eats too quickly.


As you can see, there are several potential causes of coughing in dogs. If your dog has suddenly started coughing, it’s important to make sure she hasn’t inhaled or swallowed something she shouldn’t. It is also a good idea to watch for other concerning symptoms that could let you know whether or not she’s experiencing an emergency.

However, if your dog has a very mild or occasional cough without any other symptoms, there is a chance she just has allergies. It is okay to wait a day or two, but if she continues coughing or the coughing is severe and accompanied by nasal discharge, make sure to schedule an appointment with your regular vet to check her out and diagnose the underlying problem.

If you are concerned about your dog’s cough, reach out to Wilmington Animal Hospital in Wilmington, DE at (302) 762-2694!