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Category: Dog Veterinary
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Experience:  breeder/ vet assistant.
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My dog sounds congested. How can I help him?

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My dog sounds like he is congested. He keeps breathing in and out through his nose and it sounds like he has a cold. Is there something I can do for him?

Dogs don't get colds like humans, but they can develop upper respiratory illnesses such as kennel cough and canine influenza as well as bronchitis and inhaled allergies. You can read about bronchitis here:

It’s possible that sneezing and nasal congestion can be due to an allergic reaction to an inhaled substance. If this is the case, Benadryl can be given to your dog, the dose is up to 2mg per pound every 8 hours.
You can read about these here.

Kennel cough is normally contracted when a dog has been boarded or kenneled or around a large number of dogs such as at a dog show, dog park or pet store. Here is a website with more information on kennel cough.

Canine influenza is now becoming more prevalent and like it sounds, it is a canine flu. Here is an excellent site on it.

You will want to monitor your dog's condition looking for colored discharge from the nose or eyes, a productive cough (coughs stuff up), stops eating or lethargy. These are signs of a possible bacterial infection as well and might require antibiotics. If your dog appears to be having a difficult time breathing, you will need to see your Vet as some dogs get really sick with canine influenza and need support to recover.

To help your dog breathe easier you can run a NON-medicated humidifier in the room your dog is in, or sit in a steamed up bathroom with your dog to help keep the mucous moving. Robitussin DM at a 1/4 teaspoon per 5 pounds can be used to control the symptoms. Dosages can be obtained at this website.

If your dog has not had all its vaccinations I urge you to have your dog seen as soon as possible.

The following site goes over canine coughs just in case your dog develops one.

I hope you find this information helpful.

Customer: replied 9 years ago.

He doesn't sound like he is coughing so that's why I am not sure its kennel cough. He isn't opening his mouth when he makes this noise. Its coming from his nose and throat. Does that change anything?

It really doesn't change things, but I did forget to mention two things that may be happening. It might be a reverse sneeze or a collapsing trachea though people normally talk about coughs with these conditions. Here is a site on reverse sneezes and one on collapsing tracheas.

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Customer: replied 9 years ago.
The reverse sneezing thing sounds exactly right. He is three years old and started probably a month ago. So, just watch him and make sure it doesnt get worse?

Yes. Reverse sneezing is extremely common. Mention it at your dog's next appointment so your vet is sure to check the nasal passages to be on the safe side, but reverse sneezes need no treatment.

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