What is causing my dog to cough and how should it be treated?

Original Question: I have a Chihuahua mix and she is eleven years old and is overweight. She will start coughing when she starts barking or gets excited. I remembered you mentioned it on your show a long time ago but I cannot recall your answer on how to treat it, my little recollection is some type of medicine. Will be happy for your help. Thank you. - J

What is causing my dog to cough and how should it be treated? Mar 4, 2018

Hi J,

Thanks for your question.

There are couple different things that can cause a cough so I’m not sure what you were referring to.

If the condition has been diagnosed is called tracheal collapse, we often recommend the use of a liquid medication called tracheal elixir. It is a combination of a few drugs that will suppress the cough and decrease the inflammation in the trachea to prevent the progression of the condition.

If the cough were caused by heart disease, then this would need to be determined by performing x-rays and possibly a cardiac ultrasound. Then there are multiple cardiac drugs that could be used based on the particular type of heart disease discovered.

If the cause were pneumonia, then antibiotics would be the treatment of choice.

Another condition that causes coughing like you describe is called chronic bronchitis. This can be treated a number of ways by using an airway medication to open the diaphragm of the airways and medication to decrease inflammation within the lungs.  A general cough suppressant may also work.

I also think there’s a good chance that the drug I mentioned might have been something called hydrocodone. This is a medication that not all veterinarians will commonly prescribe but it is a very potent cough suppressant but I find it really useful to treat coughing as a symptom. It’s important to note that using this drug doesn’t treat the underlying cause of the cough, but it reduces the amount of coughing that takes place. I highly recommend you seek the advice of your veterinarian before making any decisions on treatment options.

I hope this was helpful.

Dr. Clayton Greenway

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