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Ask Dr. BJ Hughes Your Own Question
Dr. BJ Hughes
Dr. BJ Hughes, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 4794
Experience:  Licensed w/20 years of experience in private practice/teaching. Strong believer in educating owners.
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My dog keeps hacking

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My dog keeps hacking like he has a hairball. What can I do for him?

Welcome to Just Answer.

Do you know if your dog is coughing, or is trying to vomit, or has something possibly stuck in throat? Any ideas or a further description of what is happening would help.

Customer :

He is hacking, sometimes he vomits a little, then he licks it up. He is fine otherwise and forgets about it when he sleeps or goes out for a walk.

Dr. BJ Hughes :

Ok -- how old is your dog -? and is he vaccinated for bordetella (kennel cough)? Also, how long has this been happening and has it gotten worse over the time?

Customer :

He is 5 and I don't think he is vaccinated for bordetella. It has been happening for 2 days and it has not gotten worse

Dr. BJ Hughes :

Ok -- I am trying to assess whether this is a couging or gagging. Let me send a link to a you tube video and tell me if it looks like this --

Customer :

He is a Bernese Mountain dog 118 lbs. and so he has a deep rasping gagging cough, like he is trying to get something out -- like a hairball.

I watched the video. This is similar, but with some differences. My dog doesn't do the hacking while walking. He stops and looks like he is trying to get something out.

Dr. BJ Hughes :

It sounds like it might fit even with the little differences. The video is of a puppy -- and they are typically more affected than an older dog. So the symptoms may not be as severe in your dog. Often they will stop and have a bout of hacking -- then go on about things until the next bout.

This may last for 7-21 days -- usually 10-14 days.

Customer :

What is it? And what is the treatment - or is there one?

Dr. BJ Hughes :

Sorry -- I am thinking kennel cough -- which is quite common.

Customer :

What is the treatment for kennel cough?

Dr. BJ Hughes :

It generally does not respond well to antibiotics -- though they are common given antibiotics to prevent secondary infection.


You can use Robitussin Dm to reduce the coughing bouts.

Customer :

I have 500mg cifalaxing (sic) and can get Robitussing cephalexin

Dr. BJ Hughes :

Avoid the cephalexin -- best choice is either clavamox or doxicycline


The dosage for this large of a dog is 1- 1.5 teaspoon every 6-8 hours.


(cephalexin -- I was working off of the spelling -- of cifalaxing--- is this something else?)

Customer :

Cephalexin is a cephalosporin antibiotic used to treat certain infections caused by bacteria such as pneumonia and bone, ear, skin, and urinary tract infections. Antibiotics will not work for colds, flu, or other viral infections. This medication is sometimes prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist ...

So, if he has kennel cough, give him the robutussin and wait 2 weeks for it to go away. And don't worry?

Dr. BJ Hughes :

Yes -- now --- if it is not responding to the robitussin -- or if it getting worse -- or true vomiting of food occurs -- then something else may be going on.


For instance -- with heart issues, there can be fluid buildup in the lungs. This will get coughed up and look much like this. But will not go away with robitussin. Also -- though more common in puppies -- there can be secondary infections that lead to pneumonia -- so if it getting worse or difficulty in breathing occurs -- a vet visit is necessary.

Customer :

So, just to confirm. for now, don't give him an anti-biotic. Use the Robutussin, don't worry unless it gets worse and expect it to go away eventually? Righ?

Dr. BJ Hughes :

Doxicycline has been shown in some cases to reduce the time of infection -- so this might be considered as well.

Customer :

I can't buy doxicycline over the counter.

Dr. BJ Hughes :

Yes -- try the robitussin -- and see what happens. Consider a vet visit if it gets worse -- or if you want to be sure this is what you are dealing with and possibly get doxycycline prescribed.

It is not available over the counter -- it is prescription.

Customer :

Anyway - I feel I have taken up enough of your time. Thanks for the consult.


THANKS

Dr. BJ Hughes :

You are most welcome.

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