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Mia Carter
Mia Carter, Animal Expert
Category: Dog
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Experience:  Specializing in the training and care of ill pets and special needs animals! Mom of 22 pets!
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My 10-year-old Min Pin is hacking and coughing - like he ...

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My 10-year-old Min Pin is hacking and coughing - like he can''t expel some foreign matter. All night long it came and went, and now its pretty much constant. Congestive heart failure, perhaps?
Hello there!

I'm sorry to hear that your min pin is unwell. I have a min pin myself - a little red girl named Kota - and they're just such wonderful little peppy dogs!

I don't know if I would assume congestive heart failure right off the bat, unless this dog has something in his history that would suggest that. There are lots of other, much less serious causes for coughing like you describe and I would be more than happy to go over the options. I will also provide you with things to monitor on your dog, so you can track his condition. But I think I would opt for a vet visit today, if possible, as the weekend is approaching and respiratory problems can become very serious, very quickly, so waiting until Monday may not be wise and an emergency weekend visit can be very expensive, so that's just something to keep in mind. If you don't go today, I would call your vet to see if they have hours on Saturday or Sunday, as some clinics are open on one or both days, at least for a few hours.

Unfortunately, this could be the result of dozens of conditions. It can be the result of a virus or infection like an upper respiratory infection, or Kennel Cough, which will get progressively worse and your pet could potentially infect other animals. But, with the spring allergy season upon us, it's also possible that there could be a seasonal trigger. So I would begin by looking online or in the newspaper to see if there's a high pollen count at the moment. Monitor the pollen count for your area and see if that tends to coincide with any improvements or worsenings of his condition.

An upper respiratory infection (or URI) is a good candidate, especially if you begin to see discharge from the nose and eyes. A URI can also be associated with congestion, rasping, loud breathing and discharge from the nose and eyes. A course of antibiotics from your vet will be needed to clear up URI. In the early stages, you usually just see a cough, loud breathing and possibly a temperature in some cases.

Kennel cough, for example, is another common respiratory illness. It can be transmitted from dog-to-dog in the same way that humans pass colds to one another. It's almost always associated with a dry, frequent cough.

Some dogs also aspirate bits of food or other debris, which gets sucked into their throat and lungs. In some cases, the debris causes irritation in the throat and in more serious cases, the dog will develop a life-threatening lung infection.

Problems with the teeth or infections involving the mouth can also lead to respiratory infections and coughing and other abnormalities with breathing, as can certain parasites, like hookworm and heartworm, viruses and other infections. So this will all be an avenue your vet will likely explore.

You could also try him on some Robitussin DM (make sure it's the DM!), as this may make him a bit more comfortable. Robitussin DM can be administered to help with the coughing and congestion - just be sure you get the DM version. The dosage is 1/2 ml per one pound of body weight, given every eight hours (three times a day). If he's on other meds, check with your vet first.

Humidifiers can also help make breathing a bit easier when there's congestion or rasping, so if you have one, you can turn it on overnight in the room where he sleeps. I switch it on a few hours before bedtime - I would put it close to where the bed is.

A quick fix version of the humidifier involves shower steam. You can take him into the bathroom with you, turn on the hot water and allow the room to steam up and sit with him in there for a while a few times a day - that would definitely help with any congestion as well, until you can get to the vet.

A dog's normal rectal temperature is 100.5 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Ear temperature is slightly different: between 100.0 degrees and 103.0 degrees.

Checking the gums is an indicator of your dog's circulation. If there's internal bleeding, anemia, a disruption of normal blood flow, or serious illness, the gums will turn very pale, almost white in appearance. This means that the blood is not properly receiving oxygen or there's a loss of blood or red blood cells.

Normal gums will be bright pink to a pale pink. Abnormal gums are white with greyish, blue, or yellow.

Here is a link to a photo of normal gums:

Here is a link to a couple of photos of pale gums:

I should note that I've seen perfectly healthy dogs with gums that are slightly paler than those pictured in the "normal gums" picture, but there's always a distinct pink tone. The gums can also be an indicator of dehydration. Slick, wet gums are normal, while sticky dry gums are an indicator of dehydration.

For more information on checking your dog's gums, visit:

The normal heart rate varies depending on the size and age of the dog. A puppy has a heart rate of about 180 beats per minute. And adult dog will have a rate between 60-160 beats per minute. Small toy breeds can have normal heart rates of 180 beats per minute. The rule is the younger the dog, the faster the heart rate (for puppies). And the smaller the dog, the faster the heart rate.

Normal pulse is between 60 and 120.

Also, you can check capillary refill time. If you apply firm pressure to the gums, the area should turn pale and then quickly return back to normal (you can try this on your own skin to see what I mean). If there's no difference, or if your dog's gums take a long time to return back to normal, there could be a problem. The gums should return to normal in no less than one second and no more than two 1/2 seconds.

You can also try him on some bland "people food" such as plain white rice or cottage cheese with boiled skinless/boneless chicken or boiled hamburger if he gets hesitant to eat before you get to the vet. He may find this more appealing than his normal food, as an ill dog can be finicky.

If he stops eating due to illness, you can give a couple of spoonfuls of pancake syrup every four to six hours to prevent hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), which will just make him feel worse.

I would also add unflavored Pedialyte to his water in a 50-50 mix to help with hydration. Dogs who are ill are often dehydrated, which only impairs the body's ability to fight whatever problem is affecting him. Giving Pedialyte ice cubes is another creative way to give fluids, as many dogs like licking the ice cubes - it's a treat.

Here's a good site on temperature and how to take it:

You also can visit these links to learn more:

I hope your dog is feeling better soon! I'd love an update if you get a chance - I'll be thinking of him. Don't hesitate to let me know if you have any additional questions!

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-Mia Carter
Pet Expert

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