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He has a cough. seems to have a difficulty breathing.

Customer Question
He has a cough...

He has a cough. seems to have a difficulty breathing

Veterinarian's Assistant: I'm sorry to hear that. Coughing can be worrying. The Expert will know what you should do. What is the dog's name and age?

Scruffy age 9 - 15 pounds or less

Veterinarian's Assistant: Is there anything else the Veterinarian should be aware of about the dog?

He has always been an active dog until recently

Submitted: 8 months ago.Category: Dog Veterinary
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Answered in 2 minutes by:
11/10/2017
Dog Veterinarian: Dr. Kara, Veterinarian replied 8 months ago
Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 18,842
Experience: Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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Hello, I'm Dr. Kara. I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian and I'd like to help. Please give me a moment to review your concerns.

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Dog Veterinarian: Dr. Kara, Veterinarian replied 8 months ago

I'm sorry to hear that Scruffy has a cough, seems to be having trouble breathing and is less active than usual. I understand that you are concerned about him.

Is he eating and drinking normally?

How long has he had this cough?

Do his symptoms seems to worsen with excitement, barking or exercise?

Does he have a nice bubblegum pink color to his gums?

Any history of a heart murmur?

A cough and wheezing simply indicates that he is experiencing airway irritation. Sometimes if a cough is prolonged then that may cause some gastroesophageal reflux and they may even spit up a bit.

A cough can be related to heart disease, including heartworm, lung disease secondary to a viral, bacterial, fungal or parasitic infection or tracheal irritation due to a bacterial, viral or fungal infection. Unfortunately sometimes a cough can be related to cancer in his chest too.

Wheezing tends to be seen more with lower airway (bronchial disease).

If this has been going on for 2 weeks or less then an infectious disease is by far the most common cause of these types of symptoms. Of those kennel cough or infectious tracheobronchitis is one of the most common causes. If he has been to a groomer, kennel, or dog park then perhaps he was exposed to a viral infection and kennel cough would be high on my list of possible problems.

Even if he has been vaccinated we cannot vaccinate against all of the agents that cause kennel cough and some dogs will still get sick even with the vaccine. The good news is that dogs that are vaccinated usually don't get as sick as dogs that haven't been vaccinated.

As long as he is still able to eat and drinking well, isn't lethargic, isn't running a fever (rectal temperature greater than 103F), and he doesn't have a green or yellow nasal or eye discharge then you can try taking a watch and see approach and using an over the counter cough suppressant if he is coughing so much he cannot sleep.

Make sure he gets plenty of fluids, lots of rest as the more active he is then more he will cough, and eats well. Add warm water or low salt chicken broth to his food. The better hydrated he is the better he will feel and the thinner his respiratory secretions will be.

You can take him into the bathroom with you when you take a hot bath or shower so he can breathe the steam which is soothing to his airways and thins mucous, making it easier for him to breathe. You can also use a humidifier in the room he sleeps in.

If this is related to an infection his cough should slowly resolve over the next 2 to 3 weeks. Most of the time these dogs feel pretty well so it's a matter of keeping them quiet and suppressing the cough if we can.

If the cough is very bad you can use human cough/cold medications with Guaifenesin (an expectorant) and Dextromethorphan (a cough suppressant) only such as Benylin or Robitussin DM can help. Give 1 teaspoon per 20 to 25 pounds every 6 to 8 hours.

If he is running a fever this is almost certainly a contagious infection and if he is running a fever and is lethargic then an examination is definitely warranted as pneumonia may have developed.

Rarely this can be a sign of canine influenza, but those dogs tend to be much sicker with a very high fever and severe lethargy. If he suddenly gets much worse and has a high fever he should see his veterinarian. Aggressive supportive care can save his life with a bad influenza infection. Make sure to let them know his symptoms when you are bringing him in as he should be quarantined.

You do want to keep him away from dog parks, the groomer, doggie daycare, and neighbor dogs, and ideally he should not be walked so she doesn't spread this in case this is infectious.

However if this cough/wheezing have been present for a while (months) then a collapsing trachea or primary heart or airway (lung or bronchial) are more likely. If he has a history of a heart murmur, is eating poorly, and/or has blue, gray or pale gums then he should see his veterinarian as soon as possible. Serious, life threatening diseases are more likely with that history.

He should see his veterinarian for an examination, chest radiographs and a complete blood count to start. More testing may be needed depending upon what they find on those tests.

In the meantime try to keep him quiet, and take him into the bathroom with you when you take a hot bath or shower so he can breathe the steam which is soothing to his airways and thins mucous, making it easier for him to breathe. You can also use a humidifier in the room he sleeps in.

Best of luck with your fellow, please let me know if you have any questions about what I have written.

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Dog Veterinarian: Dr. Kara, Veterinarian replied 7 months ago

Hello, I wanted to make sure that you didn't have any further questions for me, and I'd like to know how things turned out for your pup. If you could give me an update that would be great, thank you, ***** *****

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