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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 16534
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian
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My 10 year old catahoula started this weird coughing thing a

Customer Question

My 10 year old catahoula started this weird coughing thing a couple years ago. He coughs when he has a big yawn, lies on his back for too long, or coos( you know, the whining thing when you talk to them). He is still active, eats and drinks fine, and gets all his vaccines regularly. He is friends he plays with but all of them are treated by the same, excellently rated get and haveve their shots up to date. We love our son, and the vet prescribed hydroxoxyzine which he gets 100my a day. This does not seem to be helping after 5 months. No issues seen on xrays. Any ideas? I'm just looking for another opinion or questions for my vet. Thank you!
Gator's Momma
Submitted: 7 months ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 7 months ago.

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.

Customer: replied 7 months ago.
Sorry for the typos, stupid autocorrect
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 7 months ago.

I'm sorry to hear that your fellow seems to cough after yawning, lying on his back too long or when vocalizing, which hydroxyzine has not improved.

Dogs rarely cough in response to allergies, so I'm not surprised hydroxyzine didn't help, although it won't hurt him either so it was worth trying.

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.

But sometimes a cough can be related to post-nasal drip, or gastroesophageal reflux.

If he has any signs of dental or gum disease a thorough cleaning may help.

As some dogs age their gastroesophageal sphincter weakens and stomach acid may reflux up into the esophagus or pharynx leading to a burning sensation which can cause a cough. Reflux is more likely to happen when the pup is laying down (especially on their back), or with a big yawn. As time goes on the stomach acid can cause some laryngeal burns/irritation too which can cause a cough.

In case this is related to acid reflux there are medications that you can purchase over the counter that may help by reducing stomach acid. You can give either:

1) Pepcid ac (famotidine) at a dose of one 10mg tablet per 20 to 40 pounds of body weight every 12 hours

OR

2) Prilosec (omeprazole) at a dose of one 20mg tablet per 40 to 80 pounds of body weight every 24 hours

These are acid reducers which should help decrease stomach acid production and thus decrease the burn with reflux and decrease coughing. They are quite safe and can be used long term if necessary.

Some older dogs also have problems with laryngeal function and paralysis or polyps as they age.

These can be diagnosed via your veterinarian giving light sedation and observing laryngeal function and looking for polyps.

Best of luck with your fellow, please let me know if you have any further questions.

Customer: replied 7 months ago.
how can acid reflux be diagnosed? I assume I should not give Gator any medications without asking our vet first? Or should I try it and see how it goes? This is our son so I dont want to put him at risk.
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 7 months ago.

Acid reflux can be a bit harder to diagnose, we often presume it to be an issue if they respond to an acid reducer medication.

Another way is to scope him and see the reflux occur or see the effects of acid burn on his esophagus.

Pepcid (famotidine) & Prilosec (omeprazole) are very safe medications, but of course if you want to run it by his veterinarian first that is fine too. I highly doubt that they would have any issue with trying either one.

Customer: replied 7 months ago.
if its not acid reflux, is there anything else you can think of? Could it be like a cold where cough medicine could clear the phlem? I'm just trying to figure out what this could be. Thank you for your help!
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 7 months ago.

No "cold" will persist for this length of time.

Your pup's immune system would have fought off the virus or he would have gotten much sicker and passed away.

So whatever is going on is some sort of chronic irritant that causes him to cough.

Reflux seems reasonable, especially if radiographically his lungs look normal. Chronic bronchial disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, should show changes on radiographs.

Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 7 months ago.

I see that you have given my response a negative rating and I am puzzled why given that I responded with a thorough initial write and and responded to multiple follow up queries. I understand that you are frustrated given that your pup seems to have a chronic condition, but I did my best to respond and help given the information I had.