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Doc Sara
Doc Sara, Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 952
Experience:  I am a dog and cat veterinarian with a lifetime of experience in our family veterinary hospital.
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My nine year old dog has also been coughing, hacking, and

Customer Question

My nine year old dog has also been coughing, hacking, and gagging since he was neutered and that has been almost six months ago now. We treated him for kennel cough for about a month or so and he's now just on generic antibiotics to try and clear it up. The vet I normally take him to wants me to take him to a specialist to have his lungs flushed but they said that was going to cost about $1400. I just do not have that kind of money and they will not set up a payment arrangement. What could this be? Like I said, he did not have any sign of this until he went in to be neutered and now it's unrelenting :(
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Veterinary
Expert:  Doc Sara replied 1 year ago.

Good morning, I'm Dr. Sara. I'm a licensed veterinarian who works exclusively with dogs and cats. It appears that Dr. Salkin hasn't been online, but I can also help.

I'm really sorry that you've been going through this with Cricket. When I have coughing dogs, I usually will start with some symptomatic care (cough suppressants, possibly antibiotics). If that doesn't help the issue, it's time for some chest X-rays, and a heartworm test. In a particularly difficult or severe cough, I'll usually send those X-rays out to a radiologist for interpretation to make sure that I've not missed any subtle abnormalities. In older pets I'm trying to classify the cough as either heart related or respiratory. Many dogs will have a combination of both, but most times it's one or the other.

It sounds to me like your vet is most suspicious of respiratory disease over cardiac disease since they want to send you for airway testing. While airway testing is ideal, sometimes we can get a presumptive diagnosis on a cough by trying various treatments to see if they respond. We call this initiating therapeutic trials. You've technically already tried antibiotics and seen that they're not helpful. We could consider using cough suppressants like hydrocodone or anti-inflammatories like prednisone. Older dogs can develop a sterile inflammatory bronchitis that will cause a chronic cough that usually responds well to prednisone. If I have any suspicion for heart disease I'll also consider a trial of some heart medications. Unfortunately sometimes coughing can be a sign of cancer, so repeating chest X-rays every couple of months if he's not responding to treatments is a good idea to check for progression of nodules, etc.

That cough having started after neutering doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me unless this is heart disease that was unmasked by the anesthetic procedure (but your vet seems to suspect respiratory over heart) or some other rarity like a tracheal foreign body or other airway damage sustained from intubation or potentially aspiration of fluid during anesthesia. There's nothing like this that we commonly expect after a routine anesthetic event.

Please let me know how he's doing and what other questions I can answer for you!

~Dr. Sara


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Expert:  Doc Sara replied 1 year ago.
I'm just following up on our conversation about Cricket. How is everything going?
Doc Sara
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
He's still doing about the same. We have a follow up appointment next week so I guess we'll try another antibiotic and see if that makes any difference. Thanks for asking.
Expert:  Doc Sara replied 1 year ago.

Thanks for the reply. Feel free to contact me again if I can be of further assistance.

~Dr. Sara