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DrBridget, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 16
Experience:  11 years veterinary experience in small animal medicine and surgery.
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I have a minature poodle, approx 12yrs old, he is coughing

Customer Question

Hi, I have a minature poodle, approx 12yrs old, he is coughing excessively.
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. Coughing can be worrying. The Veterinarian will know what you should do. What is the miniature poodle's name?
Customer: Cody
JA: Is there anything else the Veterinarian should be aware of about Cody?
Customer: yes, he does not have a temperature, i did a full blood panel test and everything is normal. I changed up his diet to see if it was an allergy, but no change. He eats, plays, goes on walks and is generally happy. The coughing has been going on for two months. He seems to cough more after he has been laying down, the coughing lasts long periods of times, several min, up to ten or so. He trys to vomit, and is sometimes successful, but its only a little. most of the time its just a cough. It keeps him up, if he is sleeping and is moved at all he will start coughing. X-rays don't show anything obvious. He does have bad teeth and it has been recommended he get his teeth cleaned/some pulled.
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  DrBridget replied 8 months ago.

Hi! My name is***** and I am a small animal veterinarian. I am sorry to hear that Cody is not feeling well. Do you mind answering a few more questions so I can get a better history on your Cody?

Has the coughing changed since it began e.g. worse, better or stayed the same? Are you aware of any trigger that started the coughing.

When were the blood test and x-rays performed? Did Cody have a heart worm test and is he on heart worm prevention?

Is Cody up to date on vaccines?

When he does vomit, what comes up?

Have you noticed any other symptoms e.g. sneezing, change in energy level or appetite?

What is the air quality like in the house? Any construction, smoking, dust etc?

Has Cody been prescribed any medications for the cough?

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
He has coughed periodically for about the last year, but only when he would get excited, and only for a few seconds. Since it began to happen more constantly, i thought it got a little better for a few days, and then i thought it got worse for a few days, but there doesn't seem to be any correlation.
The blood tests were preformed just after Thanksgiving, and it did include a heart worm test. He is not on heart worm prevention currently, but the test came back clear. He is up to date on Vaccines. When he vomits its mostly just a little clearish thick liquid. Occasionally some food. no other symptoms. air quality in the house has not changed, no smoking or construction- i recently got new cleaners, maybe they are using something? but i have another 12.5 year old mini poodle and a cat and they are fine. I gave him an antibiotic for a week, with no change, after that i gave him cough syrup for a week with no change, then i gave him a tiny bit on benadryl for three days with no change. My first visit to the vet they said he was just chocking on plaque from his teeth and his teeth need to be cleaned. later on and a different vet, they said it could be collapsed tracea - and suggested we get his teeth cleaned and do a scope. The x-rays were not taken or analyzed by a vet, but rather a doctor in the family.
Expert:  DrBridget replied 8 months ago.

Thanks so much for the extra information on Cody.

I'm currently typing up my reply. This may take a few minutes. Thank you for your patience.

Expert:  DrBridget replied 8 months ago.

The extra information you provided was very helpful. It is good news that he was negative for heart worm and his blood tests were normal. It is good that you have been monitoring Cody so closely and working on tests to get to the bottom of this, coughing excessively can indicate a number of underlying diseases not to mention being uncomfortable for Cody and disruptive to the household. The most likely causes of coughing in older small breed dogs are collapsing trachea, tracheitis/bronchitis due to infection or allergies, heart disease and sometimes some tumors. While taking care of Codys dental cleaning is important it is very unlikely that the cough would be "due to him choking on plaque". Because a dental cleaning requires general anesthesia, which can exacerbate heart and respiratory tract disease it is most important to reach a diagnosis that explains the coughing and attempt treatments and hopefully see improvement before any dental cleaning is done.

It is great that you have done a lot of testing on Cody already. It is worth considering an electrocardiogram to assess his heart rhythm. Because a lot of the problems that I mentioned can be diagnosed on x-rays it is very important to have a veterinarian review the x-rays. There are subtle findings that a human doctor may not be familiar with. Either you could show the x-rays to your veterinarian I think taking Cody to see a veterinary internal medicine specialist would be an even better step since the vets he has seen already have not yet been able to reduce his coughing yet.

I realize that a visit with a veterinary internal medicine specialist can seem a bit daunting but they are in the best position to use their advanced training to diagnose problems quickly. They are also able to tell you what tests they think will be most helpful so you can avoid spending money on less useful tests. They also will be able to discuss the options of medication trials with you, there are other medical options for treating collapsing trachea and allergies. A specialist will be able to start Cody on treatment at the right dose and guide you on when to make a decision if a trial is effective or not. It is great that you tried benadryl but it is often not effective for coughing.

Steps that a specialist may suggest are: have x-rays repeated and reviewed by a board certified radiologist, perform an EKG, use fluoroscopy (a moving x-ray) or scope.

I suggest that you have the specialist review the x-rays you already have then follow their suggestions step by step. Also have the specialist confirm that it is safe for Cody to undergo general anesthesia before doing a dental cleaning.

I realize that it can be frustrating to deal with chronic coughing in an older dog but the good news is that with advanced training and tools internal medicine specialists are much better able to diagnose and treat coughing effectively, and depending on Cody's final diagnosis there are often range of good medication options available.

Please let me know if you have any other questions. I wish you and Cody the best of luck.

Expert:  DrBridget replied 8 months ago.

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