Select a Topic
- What is Coughing?
- What Causes Coughing?
- Diagnosing Coughing
- Help for Coughing
- More Information on Coughing
What is Coughing?
Coughing in pets is not something that occurs frequently. However, when it does occur often, this should be a reason for concern. A cough is usually a result from an irritation of the respiratory system. The respiratory system consists of the mouth, nasal passages, throat, voice box (larynx), trachea, bronchi and the smaller airways of the lung. Coughing may also be caused by inhaling irritants or as a result of an underlying disease. When a cough persists continually, it has to be treated immediately as this may be an indication of more serious illness. It tends to be more common in dogs than cats.
The sound of a cough may indicate its cause. If a cough is moist, it may be due to fluid and mucus build up in the throat, airways or lungs, and may be a sign of lung infection or congestive heart failure. A honking, brassy cough may also indicate some form of respiratory disease or tracheal trauma from pulling your pet’s collar.
A faint, weak cough may be a symptom of pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs). Coughs that are deep and wheezy may be an indication of bronchitis or occur after exercise, while a dry cough could be a sign of kennel cough or a scratchy throat.
What Causes Coughing?
Coughing may occur as a result of several factors. It is often associated with various respiratory disorders such as asthma, bronchitis, respiratory infection, kennel cough or lung edema or a collapsing trachea. Heart diseases and parasites such as heartworms can also cause pets to cough. Foreign materials such as food, drink or hairballs may also travel into the airways and cause a coughing episode.
Cats often have hairballs lodged in their throats that they are trying to cough up – this happens if they are not groomed properly. Allergic reactions to particles in the air such as pollen, dust, chemicals or smoke can also bring about coughing episodes. If your pet is exposed to other animals in a boarding environment like kennels or a shelter, they are more at risk of being infected with a cough.
If your pet has been coughing for a few days, you should consult your vet. Your vet will ask you certain questions such as what does the cough sound like, when did the cough start, how long has your pet had the cough or when does the pet cough. A thorough physical examination as well as other diagnostic tests may be performed. These tests include chest x-rays (thoracic radiographs), complete blood count (CBC), blood chemistry profile, urinalysis, heartworm test or fecal exam. Additional tests may include a trans-tracheal wash, bronchoscopic exam or fine-needle aspirate.
Help for Coughing
Treatment generally depends on the cause of the disease. Your vet may prescribe medications such as cough suppressants, antibiotics or steroids to relieve cough symptoms. Remember, never to administer medications prescribed for humans to your pet as they may cause some negative side effects.
More Information on Coughing
There are a number of things that you do to prevent a coughing attack
in your pets and these include:
- Avoid vacuuming, sweeping or dusting when your pets are around as air pollutants such as dust, pollen or household cleaners may cause them to cough – take them to pollutant-free area
- Keep windows open when cleaning with household cleaners
- Bring pets indoors during allergy season
- Make sure that your pet eats a healthy well balanced diet to boost his immune system
- Stop smoking – not only is it bad for your health but also for your pet’s health
- If the air in your house is dry, use a humidifier, vaporizer or steam from a warm shower to clear up the air and reduce your pet’s cough
- Keep your cat well groomed to prevent unnecessary hairballs being lodged in its throat.
- Boost your pet’s immune system with immune support supplements