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Dr. John
Dr. John, Texas Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 4997
Experience:  Over 14 years of clinical veterinary experience
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We have a 15 year old Dalmatian and she has started to cough

Customer Question

we have a 15 year old Dalmatian and she has started to cough and then dry heave she was doing it a lot but we can calm her down and she stops and it seemed to be less when we had her in NY and she could run free she has had no loss of appetite and no loss of strength except she is 15
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Jess K replied 1 year ago.

Hello, this is Dr. Jess. I am sorry to hear about your problem with your dalmation. Can you tell me how long the cough has been going on for? Is she on a monthly heartworm preventative? Any difficulty breathing?

Expert:  Jess K replied 1 year ago.

If he hasn't been on heartworm preventative, then a heartworm test needs to be done to rule out cough due to heartworms.

So in a cough in a dog this age, one of my first suspicions would be chronic bronchitis. Here is a detailed article on this disease:http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=3151

And I worry about heart disease causing a cough. This is why it is so important for him to have a vet examine him. We need to find out if he has a heart murmur or not, and ideally he should have a chest x-ray done.

For chronic bronchitis, it is often impossible to completely get rid of the cough,but we can often see drastic improvement. Initially depending on the severity of cough these guys usually need to go on a combination of steroids (that is the prednisone), bronchodilators (that is the theophylline and albuterol) and cough suppressants. We will also often do a trial of an antibiotic to ensure there isn't a secondary bacterial component and sometimes these antibiotics have anti inflammatory properties which can help.

If the cough is due to heart disease, then there are some oral medications that can help, such as lasix (people call these water pills sometimes), and other heart medications depending on the severity.

The other thing we worry about in elderly dogs that cough would be tumors or growths in the lungs. The only way to detect these would be a chest x-ray.