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Dr. Bob
Dr. Bob, Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
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Experience:  35 years in practice
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Our black lab, who is 3 years old, has suddenly started choking/coughing

Resolved Question:

Our black lab, who is 3 years old, has suddenly started choking/coughing like he has something stuck in his throat. He is able to eat and drink and does not seem to be in any pain or have any trouble breathing. But he is in his second day of periodic fits of making horrible hacking/gagging noises. What could this be?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Bob replied 7 years ago.
Hello, I'm Dr. Bob.
I'm sorry to read of your dog's condition.
Is he producing any mucus when he coughs?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Expert:  Dr. Bob replied 7 years ago.
Okay thank you!
Has he been vaccinated against bordetella (kennel cough), and if so, how long ago?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
He's had the usual shots, but I don't think that was one of them. He has never been in a kennel. In fact, he has never been back in the vet's office. We live in the country and we have a vet come once a year to take care of dogs, cats and horses.
Expert:  Dr. Bob replied 7 years ago.
Okay, that's very interesting!
The symptoms you're describing sound suspiciously like kennel cough, but the usual prerequisites (kenneling, exposure to unvaccinated dogs, city living, etc.) are missing.
Of course there are many other conditions that may cause a hacking non-productive cough. Anything the irritates the respiratory system, and causes inflammation, can cause the symptoms you've observed. Inflammation of the pharynx, tonsils, trachea, bronchioles, asthma, a foreign body like a seed or twig, or even heart failure can cause this sign to appear.
At his age, heart failure is possible, but highly unlikely. An infection of some kind or foreign body is much more likely.
I would suggests you give him a tablespoonful of human cough medicine (without acetaminophen) every four hours as needed through the weekend. If the cough begins producing green pus or other symptoms appear, a trip to your veterinarian would be a very good idea. If he's not better by Monday, he should be seen by your veterinarian as well.
Many times the cough medicine trick will work when given for a couple of days, allowing the body to get rid of the offending material or infection. After several days, though, it's time to get it properly taken care of.
If you should have further questions, please let me know.
Dr. Bob
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