How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Doc Sara Your Own Question
Doc Sara
Doc Sara, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 952
Experience:  I am a dog and cat veterinarian with a lifetime of experience in our family veterinary hospital.
Type Your Dog Veterinary Question Here...
Doc Sara is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

I believe that my dog got into some styrofoam and is now

Customer Question

i believe that my dog got into some styrofoam and is now having a hard time eating and coughs and hacks often throughout the day. My daughter has been watching my dog for a few days and says that he has been doing this for the last 2 days. I just got back home and am not sure what to do.....???
JA: Thanks. Can you give me any more details about your issue?
Customer: He is a 6 yr old golden lab. He won't eat much if anything and my daughter says that he has thrown up a few times, although I haven't seen him throw up he does continue to cough like he has something stuck in his throat
JA: OK got it. Last thing — Dog Veterinarians generally expect a deposit of about $19 to help with your type of question (you only pay if satisfied). Now I'm going to take you to a page to place a secure deposit with JustAnswer. Don't worry, this chat is saved. After that, we will finish helping you.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Doc Sara replied 1 year ago.

Hi there, I'm Dr. Sara. I'm a licensed veterinarian who works exclusively with dogs and cats. I'm sorry to hear that your pup has been coughing and vomiting. I'll do my best to help.

I know that it's been your daughter that has been with him, but it's important to try to sort out whether he is actually vomiting (like you would do if you had the stomach flu) or he is actually coughing up material (like you'd do if you have a bad cold and cough). If he's been coughing, it's more common that we are seeing them cough up mucus (clear, white foam plus/minus some yellow liquid) rather than also be vomiting. Vomiting from the stomach and coughing are typically completely separate problems. It's unusual for a dog with a stomach problem to be coughing. Styrofoam by itself isn't toxic, but if they eat enough it can cause a GI obstruction. The most reliable indicator of a GI obstruction is that the pet can't keep anything down - everything that they eat or drink gets vomited right back up.

If this is a primary coughing issue, then in an otherwise healthy dog who develops a cough but is still eating, drinking, peeing, pooping, and acting normally, I am most suspicious of an infectious cough. Saying "my dog has kennel cough" is a lot like saying "I have a cold" - we don't know exactly what infectious agent is causing it, but for the majority of us, it makes you feel crappy for a while and then it passes. The same types of infectious respiratory diseases can happen in dogs - where they cough and potentially have other signs like sneezing, etc, and they get over it own their own. The red flags to look for that would indicate we need veterinary care are extreme lethargy, high fever (over 103 rectally), not eating or drinking, any sort of labored or distressed breathing, or coughing up green or yellow mucus. Since most of these end up being viral, I don't always prescribe antibiotics, however if the cough is severe enough for my clients to bring their pets in for an exam, I usually do send at least cough suppressants. If he's been any other dogs lately, such as at a dog park, doggy daycare, pet store, or groomer, then I'd suspect he was exposed there. Having said that, I see many dogs who have no obvious or known exposure to other dogs - these diseases are airborne and stick to clothing and are very contagious, so direct contact with other dogs isn't mandatory to catch one.

There's an off chance that a cough in a young to middle aged dog could be a sign of tracheal collapse, laryngeal paralysis, pneumonia or a heart condition, but these are less common. I would call your vet when you can, especially if you're seeing any of those "red flag" items I mentioned or his coughing is keeping him up at night. Also, if he's not eating for you for more than 24 hours or he's not keeping food or water down, I would also suggest calling the vet.

Please let me know what questions I can answer for you.

~Dr. Sara


My goal is to provide you with the most complete and accurate “five star” answer. If my answer isn’t what you were expecting, it’s incomplete, or you have more questions PLEASE REPLY to let me know what information you are looking for BEFORE giving me a negative rating! If my answer has been helpful to you, please show me by giving me a favorable rating. Thank you so much :)

Expert:  Doc Sara replied 1 year ago.
I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?
Doc Sara