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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.
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My dog is breathing than normal. Also makes sound and motion

Customer Question

my dog is breathing harder than normal. Also makes sound and motion of trying to cough up something, kind of like a cough than coughing up, mostly from the lower chest below the ribs. He is latharjic when he is normally happy to go for walks. Nose is cold and tongue is warm. Appetite is good and drinks water with no problem. Urinating ok and bowel movement this morning. He has been this way most of the late day and now evening. What can you recommend I do to help him?
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 JJ hasn't been feeling well tonight.

Is his breathing labored at all? If he appears to be laboring to breathe in any way, I'd suggest seeking emergency care right away, as respiratory difficulty is always an emergency. If he's breathing normally aside from an occasional bout of coughing, this could be something like an infectious cough (like a cold in people). It's also possible that he's swallowed something irritating that he's trying to cough up or that has irritated his larynx as it passed.

In a young 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 dog could be a sign of tracheal collapse or a heart condition, but these are uncommon. There's not a whole lot that you can do right now other than keep a close eye on him and call your vet when you can. If you're seeing any of those "red flag" items I mentioned or his coughing is keeping him up at night, that's when I'd seek emergency care.

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

~Dr. Sara


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