How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Dr. B. Your Own Question
Dr. B.
Dr. B., Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 21201
Experience:  Hello, I am a small animal veterinarian and am happy to discuss any concerns & questions you have on any species.
Type Your Dog Veterinary Question Here...
Dr. B. is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

My dog is 16 and she has been up all night coughing a lot.

Customer Question

my dog is 16 and she has been up all night coughing a lot. she pants and is pacing floor. she is 12 lbs and a shih tzu
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. Coughing can be worrying. The Veterinarian will know what you should do. What is the dog's name?
Customer: abbey
JA: Is there anything else the Veterinarian should be aware of about abbey?
Customer: she has bladder stones and has surgery a few months ago
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.

Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.

How long has she had these signs?

Is it a harsh or soft cough?

Are her gums pink or pale/white?

Since you noted that she is breathing heavy, can you take a breathing rate for me (just count her breaths for 10 seconds + multiply that by 6)?

Any know health issues besides her bladder stones? Is she on any medications at the moment?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

it is a real harsh cough and at this time she will not let me get near her. this is not normal she is at my side all the time. she acts scared. she is on medication for bladder stones

Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you,

What medication is she on specifically?

Can you still take a breathing rate (as you do not need to touch her to count her breaths)?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

her breathing is 180

Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you,

First, I suspect she is panting there and I have to say that if she is breathing that fast, then you are best to check her gums even if she isn't keen. If they are pink, then we can just monitor that breathing. But if they are white/pale, then its an urgent situation and we'd want her seen right away.

Now as I am sure you can appreciate, coughing in elderly dogs can be triggered by a range of issues (just like people). Specifically, in her case we’d have to consider infectious agents like bacteria (ie bordetella), viruses (ie parainfluenza, coronavirus), or parasites (ie heart worm or lung worm). As well, we can also see coughing of this nature associated with bronchitis, asthma, pneumonia, lung tumors, tracheal disease (ie polpys, growths, tracheal collapse, etc), or sometimes heart issues.

With all these in mind, it would be best to consider having a check-up with her vet once they are open (sooner if that breathing cannot settle or her gums are paler then usual). Ideally, we want her vet to listen to his upper airway, lungs, and heart. Depending on their findings, it may just be a case of antibiotics to treat any infection present but if they find anything amiss with her lungs or heart then an xray or heart scan may be indicated to let you see what is actually going on within in her chest so that appropriate treatment can be started for her to soothe that cough.

Otherwise, just in the meantime, we can try to soothe Abbey's throat and try to reduce this coughing and her agitation. First, you can try her with plain over the counter glycerin/honey cough syrup (with no drugs in it). Typically we will give a milliliter (~1/4 teaspoon) as needed. This will aid to soothe his throat and settle any upper airway related coughing. Alternatively, you can try Robitussin DM. If you choose to use this one, I would just say to make sure to use this preparation and avoid any containing other medications like Paracetamol, Acetaminophen, Pseudoephedrine, Phenylephrine or caffeine (since these can be toxic). If it also contains Guaifenesin that is okay. Dose-wise, we tend to give this as 1/2 (half) teaspoon per 10lbs of the dog's body weight every 8-12 hours. These will help soothe throat irritation and can help at least decrease coughing for her.

Overall with the length of time she has had this cough and the nature of this cough, we do have a few concerns. Therefore, do try the above to give her throat some relief, but it would be prudent to follow up with her vet. The can listen to her chest and help you pinpoint which of the above is to blame for her cough. And that way we can ensure that we nip this in the bud for Abbey.

Please take care,

Dr. B.


If you have any other questions, please ask me – I’ll be happy to respond. Please remember to rate my service once you have all the information you need. Thank you and hope to see you again soon! : )