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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 16306
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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My 3 year old male bulldog is experiencing similar symptoms

Customer Question

Dear Sir,
My 3 year old male bulldog is experiencing similar symptoms as described in the thread above - a wheezing cough leading to an attempt to ostensibly get something out of his lungs. I think he has a bit of a fever also. Not severe but a higher than normal temperature and his mood is definitely subdued. The coughing began late last night.
Yesterday he swam at the beach which he does often. He has aspirated water in the past twice which has made him and he needed to rest for a whole day. But yesterday I didn't notice him aspirate the water... He has been eating a tennis ball which he also tends to do often and I am wondering if perhaps he has inhaled some of the fur particles which are upsetting his lungs...
Any advice would be appreciated. Since it is a Sunday here in Singapore the vet is not open so I wonder if it is safe to rest the dog at home today and wait for the vet tomorrow.
Many thanks in advance,
A. Stewart
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Typo: when he aspirated water in the past it made him unwell. He had a croaky breathing pattern and was really under the weather. This time his lungs sound clear, breathing is regular however he seems a little warm and has a weird wheezing cough once in a while - not constantly. Thanks again for your help.
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 1 year ago.

Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I am sorry to hear that your fellow is experiencing a strange wheezing sort of cough and seems a little warm after a swim at the beach and eating a tennis ball.

I don't necessarily believe that he aspirated the water, but he may have swallowed enough to cause an upset stomach and some gastroesophageal reflux. Likewise the fuzz from a tennis ball is unlikely to create respiratory symptoms, but eating a tennis ball can cause stomach upset, reflux and possibly a gastrointestinal blockage which could cause what you are seeing as well.

Gastroesophageal reflux can cause excessive swallowing, and a sort of gagging/wheezing cough.

Is he eating normally today?

Any vomiting?

Is he passing normal stools?

If he isn't vomiting and is passing stools then we can try some things at home to try and settle his stomach and see if we can get him feeling better.

You can try using acid reducing medications to see if they help by decreasing esophageal burn and reflux. You can use either:

1) Pepcid-ac (famotidine) at one 10mg tab per 20 to 40 pounds of body weight every 12 hours


2) Prilosec (omeprazole) at one 20mg tab per 40 to 80 pounds of body weight every 24 hours.

These are acid reducers and may help settle his stomach and decrease the reflux if this is related to gastroesophageal reflux. They are very safe and can be used as needed with him.

I would start a bland diet of 1/3 boiled, lean hamburger (or boiled, white skinless chicken), all fats and juices drained off the meat, mixed with 2/3 boiled, plain white rice. Feed several small meals a day. You might wish to add 2 tablespoon of canned pumpkin to each meal for fiber to help him pass the tennis ball pieces.

If he's not significantly better in 24 hours, starts vomiting, refuses to eat, or has a fever higher than 103.5F then he needs to see his veterinarian.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Dear Dr Kara,
First, thank you for your detailed and very sensible reply which I appreciate.
He has a completely normal appetite and has already had fish & beef today and even a small amount of fruit and yoghurt (all fresh, no sugar or saturated fats etc.) as a snack. Passing stools normally also. I did not mention in my first message that Singapore has been inundated with a very bad haze for the past few weeks because of fires in neighbouring Indonesian plantations. The haze has been very, very bad indeed and although the dog spends much of the day inside in air conditioning & clean air, inevitably he has been out in the haze while exercising.
Could this perhaps be agitating his lungs?
I don't think he has an upset stomach... It seems to be more of a cold, mild chest infection or similar. He has a little more mucus than usual coming out of his nose...
Once again thank you very much for your help.
A Stewart
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 1 year ago.

Thanks very much for the further information.

It is possible that the smoke has irritated his upper airways and is causing increased mucous and inflammation which has led to episodes of reverse sneezing rather than reflux.

Do your fellow's episodes look like this video?

If he looks like the video this is a "reverse sneeze" which is caused by irritation of the pharynx. It can be from inhaled irritants. It can be related to gastroesophageal reflux. It can be exacerbated by excitement, or post nasal drip or an overlong soft palate. It isn't harmful as it's just a spasm of the muscles around the pharynx because of the irritant, but it's no fun to watch. It can be stopped most times by rubbing his throat.

Because he is a Bulldog he probably does have an overlong soft palate which will only make things worse for him.

Ideally keeping him out of the smoke as much as possible is best.

Using a humidifier and air purifier indoors may help.

The moisture can soothe sore airways and of course the air purifier will remove the smoke particulates the air conditioner may miss.

Beyond that there isn't much to be done.

Please let me know if you have any further questions or comments.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Dear Dr Kara,
Yes I am familiar with the reverse sneezing which he has done once or twice in the past.
However in this instance he is not doing that. It's definitely a cough with a wheeze. Please see attached MPEG...
I don't think it's reflux - although of course you may well be correct - because he's never had this before and has a great appetite & and is a really fit, not overweight bulldog.
Anyway, I will attempt to give him a bit of steam to clear up the airways and see how that goes. And take him to the emergency vet hospital if he deteriorates any further.
Thanks again for your professional assistance; most appreciated indeed.
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 1 year ago.

I don't see anything attached.

I think using a humidifier and air purifier is worth it and may help him be more comfortable.

Certainly if his nasal discharge is green or yellow, he loses his appetite, or he runs a fever then a hands on veterinary visit is best.

Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 1 year ago.
Hi Ashley,
I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?
Dr. Kara