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Dr. Gary
Dr. Gary, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 19798
Experience:  DVM, Emergency Veterinarian, BS (Physiology)
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My dog is a mixed breed that has had a very dry cough

Customer Question

Hello, my dog is a mixed breed that has had a very dry cough followed by her gagging. Her appetite is not affected. This happens all day long. She has never been been borded in a kennel. Is is a violent cough. There is no set pattern as to when or the time it happens. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Deborah
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Peter replied 1 year ago.

Welcome! Thanks for asking your question Deborah. My name is***** am a licensed veterinarian and I will be assisting you today. First I need to ask you a few questions so that I can be well informed and give you the best advice.

1- How long has this been going on?

2- Any pre existing medical conditions?

3- Any other symptoms?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
It has been going on for about 10 months. The only other symptom I notice, which I am not sure is related, is that she has tremors in her right leg at times.
Expert:  Dr. Peter replied 1 year ago.

1- Has she been seen by a vet for this problem?

2- How much does she weigh?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
She has been seen by a vet twice for this cough. They say she is slightly over weight 38 lbs, but I have gotten her to loose 3. At one time they have me a medicine to calm her cough, which seemed to work alittle bit, but the cough has gotten a lot worse since that time.
Expert:  Dr. Peter replied 1 year ago.

Please give me a few minutes to type your answer. Thank you.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Expert:  Dr. Peter replied 1 year ago.

Friend, a chronic cough can be caused by many different medical conditions. It will be difficult for me to determine the exact underlying cause without a hands on examination and some testing. But, common causes are: Airway disorders like a "collapsing trachea," this is when the rings around the trachea (tube connecting mouth to lungs) become weak and collapse; the dog will hack/gag to re-open the trachea lumen. Other possible causes are: Heart or lung disease, heartworm disease, etc. to name a few causes. This is not kennel cough as it has been ongoing for such a long time.

I would recommend you discuss with your vet about doing xrays and a heartworm test as initial screening test if your vet if they have not done so already. In the meantime start her on Robitussin DM (cough) 1/2 teaspoon every 6-8 hours. You can buy Robitussin DM (cough) over the counter in any pharmacy. Do NOT buy sugar free Robitussin.

My goal is to provide you with excellent service - I hope I've provided the information you were seeking, if you feel you have received anything less, please reply back as I am happy to address follow-up questions. Kindly rate me when you are done.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The vet did test for heart issues & the results came up negative. Your suggestion is to try the robitussin & also visit my vet again?
Expert:  Dr. Peter replied 1 year ago.

If your vet has not done xrays I would recommend you discuss with your vet about doing xrays. In the meantime start her on Robitussin DM (cough) 1/2 teaspoon every 6-8 hours.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Expert:  Dr. Gary replied 1 year ago.

Hello, I'm Dr Gary. I saw that you requested a second opinion.

I would have to agree with Dr Peter that x-rays are the next step if they have not been done. Even if they have been done and it's been more than a month- I would repeat them. Many times we can see changes if we have serial x-rays.

If the x-rays are normal, then we rule out things like heart disease, bronchitis, pneumonia, collapsing trachea, masses in the lungs. What we don't rule out, is a mild inflammatory airway disease or lungworms. For those conditions, the best option is a tracheal wash. That is where saline is flushed down the trachea and into the lungs, then sucked back up into a syringe. That fluid is evaluated under the microscope and also cultured for infectious organisms.

If this is an allergic condition, we treat with steroids (Prednisone orally or Flovent through an inhaler) and often times a broncho-dilator (Albuterol inhaler). If it's lungworms, we treat with an anti-parasitic.

I would ask your vet if they are comfortable doing a tracheal wash. Many vets can do it, but others will refer out to a specialist to perform this.

I hope this helps, let me know if you have any other questions.