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Dr. K
Dr. K, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
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Experience:  13 years experience as Veterinarian
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My dog coughs when he is excited

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Recently my dog has been coughing whenever he gets excited or starts barking. Originally I thought this may be from his having inhaled some water while swimming in the pool but it has persisted for the past week and I am beginning to worry. Any ideas?


Is your dog acting lethargic, or is he active and alert?
Is he eating and drinking normally?
Does he ever cough anything up?
Is this a wet, mucusy cough, or is it a dry, honking cough?
Has he recently been at a boarding kennel, groomer, vet hospital or dog park (or any other place where there were a lot of dogs)?

Dr. K

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Dr. K,

He is always pretty lazy but he remains alert.
He continues to eat and drink normally.
He is hacking as if trying to cough something up but has yet to get anything.
I would say it is a dry honking cough with no mucus but definitely hacking.
About a month or back he went to the vet with a diarrhea problem but other than that he has not been around many dogs.


It is quite possible that he did suffer some airway irritation while swimming. He could have also picked up a virus or bacteria that is causing these symptoms. When there is any kind of airway irritation, the cough can persist for quite some time (sometimes several weeks). If he is otherwise acting like himself, then it does not sound very concerning, so try not to worry.

That aside, since it has now persisted for a week, I do recommend that you take him to the doctor to be examined. There are many things that can cause a dry cough in a dog. They include:

Heartworm disease

Infectious diseases (viruses, bacteria, fungal diseases, parasites, etc..)

Cardiac failure

Neoplasia (cancer)

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

The list is really quite long. The first thing that you should do is take him to the veterinarian for a physical examination. The vet will check him out for any sign that he may have an infectious disease, will listen to his heart to see if he has a murmur, and will also likely do a quick blood test to see if he is positive for heart worm disease. If signs of infectious disease are present, the first thing that is tried is some antibiotics. This will clear up a bacterial infection, and help prevent against a secondary one from forming if a viral agent is causing the problem.

If the antibiotics do not work and the heart worm test is negative, then the vet will next recommend doing X-rays of the chest to look for signs of pneumonia, cancer, and congestive heart failure. Further blood testing may be necessary to determine if this is a fungal problem.

I am attaching a client information handout that I use in my practice that discusses the causes of coughing in more detail. I hope that you find it useful.

Click Here

I hope that this information is of help to you, and I wish you the best of luck with your dog. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Dr. K

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