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Weird coughing like something caught in his throat. Shih Tzu…

Customer Question
Weird coughing like something...

Weird coughing like something caught in his throat.

Veterinarian's Assistant: I'll do all I can to help. What sort of animal are we talking about?

Shih Tzu about a year old, male

Veterinarian's Assistant: Maybe I'm confused. I thought you had a problem with a pet. Is that correct?

Yes

Veterinarian's Assistant: Coughing can be worrying. The Expert will know what you should do. What is the Shih Tzu's name?

Ollie

Veterinarian's Assistant: Is there anything else important you think the Veterinarian should know about Ollie?

No...he's actually very healthy.

Submitted: 3 months ago.Category: Dog Veterinary
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Answered in 1 minute by:
3/18/2018
Dog Veterinarian: Dr. Kara, Veterinarian replied 3 months ago
Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 18,607
Experience: Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
Verified

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 3 months ago

I'm sorry to hear that Ollie has a gagging cough and I understand that you are concerned about him.

A cough simply means he is experiencing airway irritation.

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.

In a young dog infectious disease is by far the most common cause. Of those kennel cough or infectious tracheobronchitis is one of the most common causes. If he has been to groomer, dog park, doggy day care, or boarding kennel, then it is possible that he was exposed 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.

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,

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 such that he cannot sleep 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 daycares, and neighbor dogs, and ideally he should not be walked so he doesn't spread this.

It has been my pleasure to help you today, and I hope that I have earned my 5 star rating. Please remember to rate my service by selecting the 5 stars at the top of the screen (rating me now does not close your question). You are welcome to ask follow up questions about my response here until you are satisfied, simply use the reply box and let me know. Thank you!

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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
I'm sorry...I now think it is a weird bark and not cough. The bark has a 'ripple' to it...similar to a combined 'whine'. I examined him and he is constipated.
I cleaned him up well and with a warm cloth tried to ease as much as I could from his rectum. I'm noticing that he moves quickly and then lies flat on his stomach. Is he having trouble passing something? I checked his bowel mvt. and didn't see anything suspicious. He's calmed down considerably since I've been typing.
Dog Veterinarian: Dr. Kara, Veterinarian replied 3 months ago

I understand, so perhaps he was trying to get your attention and tell you he was uncomfortable, or was having some reflux due to pressure from being constipated and that was affecting his voice.

He may be experiencing some abdominal cramping given the way he is moving and preferring to lie flat on his stomach.

Since he is calming down let's give him time and see how he does.

To help ease stomach cramps I recommend that you feed a homemade diet of 1/3 boiled hamburger or white, skinless chicken, all fats and juices drained and 2/3 white rice. Add 1-2 tablespoons of canned pumpkin, (not pie filling, just pumpkin), to each meal for fiber if he has any mucousy stools. Feed small meals several times a day.
Once he's feeling better then start mixing in his regular food, adding a little more regular and less bland at each meal. It should take a week to get him converted back to regular food.

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Dog Veterinarian: Dr. Kara, Veterinarian replied 3 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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