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Dr.Fiona, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 6273
Experience:  16 years experience as a companion animal veterinarian in British Columbia, California and Ontario
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my rottweiler has been coughing today, i do not think it is

Resolved Question:

my rottweiler has been coughing today, i do not think it is serious enough to take her to the vet, but would like to give her some relief, is there any drug store over the counter type cough medicine i can give her? something i can buy tonight at like a walgreens or somewhere?
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 8 years ago.
Hi thereCustomer

Welcome to Just Answer! I would be happy to help you and your Rottie with this question, but need a bit more information in order to better assist you.

Is your dog on any other medications?

How much does she weigh?

Does your dog have any health problems (other than the cough) of which you are aware?

Do any of these look like what your dog is doing:


Customer: replied 8 years ago.

No she is not presently on any medications, she was on cephalexin (sp?) and phisoderm a few month ago for a skin condition and we use lotion on her paws at our regular vet's sugestion but have not in the last 7 days.


she is a slittle overweight, but not severely, last time we weighed her she was just over 100 pounds


no other health problems i am aware of other than dry paw pads and pimples in her tail region, but all that has been ongoing since she was a pup


looks kind of maybe like the 2nd youtube video, but it is not ongoing, only when she gets excited like when the beagle starts barking at a car going by. it is cough cough cough hack and then she's fine for anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 hours. she wears a choker collar and this seems to have started ealier this afternoon on a walk when she lunged at the golden retriever down the street. she's not coughing anything up and forcing her to drink a little water seems to help a little

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
also we live outside of chicago and my wife just got over a really bad cold
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 8 years ago.
Well, we can quickly rule out any kind of contagious cough from your wife to the dog. There are no respiratory diseases we can pass to each other, fortunately.

Hmmm... your Rottie's cough just started today?

And you say she goes cough cough cough HACK. Does that HACK sound like she is bringing something up?
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
yes, from time to time my beagle does the same sort of hack when he eats too much grass outside, almost like a cat coughing up a hairball and sometimes he does it then vomits, but usually in the summer if he gets into something outside, he's fine now though it's the rott i'm concerned about
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 8 years ago.
LOL - I had a beagle and I know *exactly* what you mean!

Are your dogs vaccinated for Kennel cough? And if so, when were they last vaccinated for it?

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
yes they are, it was the through the nose type and she had it last february during our annual exam with the shots and heartworm etc.
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 8 years ago.
Ahhh....OK! Good to know!

I'm kind of suspicious that your Rottie may actually have Kennel cough (Bordetella, infectious tracheobronchitis).

Kennel cough is a highly contagious cough that is transmitted by saliva or through an aerosol when a dog coughs. With kennel cough, dogs have a cough that sounds like something is stuck in their throat, and after coughing a few times they have what is called a "terminal gag" which means that they sound like they are bringing up phlegm.

If you watch closely, you will often see dogs swallow after this final gag - they are in fact swallowing phlegm. Some dogs will even cough up a puddle of clear, whitish, or slightly yellow mucoid fluid.

Kennel cough is highly contagious so dogs that have this should be kept isolated from other dogs for 2-3 weeks until it resolves.

Most cases resolve without medications, but in some cases patients are put on antibiotics and/or cough suppressants.

Antibiotics are used in dogs who are at risk for a secondary pneumonia (very young or very old dogs, or those with a suppressed immune system).

Cough suppressants are used when the cough is so severe that the dog cannot sleep. There can be quite a bit of phlegm with kennel cough, and it is better that the dog DOES cough that up, rather than leave it in the lungs by suppressing the cough. However, there has to be a balance where it's possible for the dog and his human companions to sleep.

When a cough suppressant is indicated, I usually suggest people buy something that contains ONLY dextromethorphan. A pharmacist could point it out to you. It's a little hard to find as so many cough suppressants have many drugs in them. Read the label carefully. Two possible brands are Phenergan DM or Robitussin DM (the DM stands for dextromethorphan). The dose is 0.5 0 1mg/lb (so, 50 to 100mg in your dog - I would start LOW). More information can be found here:

Watch your dog to see if she is retching or gagging at the end of her coughing episode. If she is, or if she is coughing up puddles of phlegm, she likely has kennel cough.

The vaccinations are reasonably effective, BUT their effectiveness starts to drop after about 6 months or so. The fact your dog was vaccinated 9 months ago means that hopefully this will be a mild case.

I'll give you links to further information:

If she coughs up fluid that is green, or is blood-tinged, or she is lethargic or has difficulty breathing, then you should definitely see a vet.

Many dogs with Kennel Cough seem to have a sore throat and thus don't want to eat their dry food. You can soften it with warm water to make it easier to swallow.

Keep your dog isolated from other dogs for at least 2 weeks!

Keep her as quiet as possible - just out for potty breaks and back in.

Kennel cough usually gets worse for 2-3 days, then frequent coughing with phlegm for 2-3 days, then starts to slowly get better.

It is also helpful to walk dogs with Kennel cough on a head halter or chest halter, as a leash around the neck can pull on the trachea and start a coughing spell.

If this has been helpful, please "Accept" my answer and provide feedback. I will still be here to answer further questions!

The above is given for information only. Although I am a licensed veterinarian, I cannot legally prescribe medicines or diagnose your pet's condition without performing a physical exam. If you have concerns about your pet I would strongly advise contacting your regular veterinarian.

Best wishes to you and to your dogs! Fiona

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