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Avatar universal

senior dog with a cough

My 12 year old setter mix has been coughing for years but I did not recognize it as a cough. It was initially only an issue at night when he would lay on his back and cause himself to cough a few times until I righted him onto his side!!! how silly. The past year it seems this has gone from only when on his back to happening mostly at night or when he just gets up in the evening. A few weeks ago it got really bad and became kennel cough with gagging. I took him to the vet and he did a course of antibiotics but he is still coughing but not nearly as bad. He coughs/huffs randomly during the day. It is not made worse by exercise that I can tell. He does pant a bit and is either out of breath or just his age is getting to him on our walks. He has a bunch of fatty tumors and has a weakening hind end. Vets have checked his heart and he is heartworm negative as well. I have not had him xrayed. He moans and groans quite a bit thru the day and night and I feel he is experiencing some chronic discomfort. I just dont know why he coughs???? Sorry for how long this is! One last thing, my other dog developed a cough a week or so after him and is now almost better. She did antibiotics and I gave them both mucinex DM by pill. Worked for her but as I said he is still huffing!! Is this a "common" senior issue???
6 Responses
462827 tn?1333168952

Welcome to the forum.....


Reasons for Coughing:

OK, For starters, you need to rule out Heart Problems....The xray will not only show the heart, but also the lungs...This is important....
With Heart Disease, the weak heart cannot pump as well...Fluid builds into the lungs causing the cough..The cough is usually MOIST like they're choking on congestion...Actually, they are...The cough is worse in the mornings & during periods of running, playing & excitement....Fluid will show in an x ray of the lungs.....This would normally be for Senior Dogs......

Heart Disease is NOT a death sentence.....It's rather common in dogs!  Dogs can live many ,many years on medications just like humans can.....Meds. to improve function of the heart & also lasix to clear fluid from the lungs......An EKG or ECG can detect what part of the heart is having a problem.....They usually run around $100.....Some Vets will suggest this test, some will not...They will just go ahead and treat...

Next- Kennel Cough- This is a virus and antibiotics will do nothing.....Cough syrup is very necessary to help this run it's course.....Lasts a few weeks & the cough is excessive!!!!

Collapsing Trachea- Common in small breeds- This cough is more like choke-gasp, choke/gasp....It sounds like a goose honking....Meaning like when your sucking through a straw & it collapses. Like it kinda sticks then opens, etc. It is actually doing just that.....The trachea collapses then opens back up...This ailment is treated by weight control & Medications for lung disease....Cough meds, bronchial dilaters, Asthma meds., steroids when necessary, etc.

Respiratory Diseases cause coughing....Asthma & Bronchitis are treated with the same meds as Trachea Collapse. This is more of a dry cough with wheezing at times or both....With this, sometimes the Heart shows enlargement,but it is not a Heart Problem! It's from lack of oxygen through the respiratory system.....Steroids are useful as needed for allergy season that can be a trigger.....Dust mites in the house affect this a lot (Especially in the winter when the heat is on and the house is closed up tight).......It seems they breath better outside.....Something else: Dust Mites in DRY dog food alone can trigger this.....This disease can be controlled for years once you know what to do.....

There's a common cough called A "Reverse Sneeze"...You can google it to know what it sounds like.....I can't describe it....It kinda sounds like all the above, dammit!!!  ;)  Although it sounds awful, it's really harmless.....Lots of dogs do it their whole life...

Then of course, Heart worm Disease will cause a cough....Also will show an enlarged heart....Will be seen on an x ray....Can be ruled out with a blood test...

Oops.....I just thought of another one...Post Nasal Drip will cause a cough...As the fluid trickles down the back of the throat....It tickles....Thus the cough!  The throat & tonsils will be red and irritated if this is what your dealing with....Can be worse during periods of excitement, also.....This is usually allergy related or can be linked to Stress...I know that sounds impossible, but it can happen......Take care............Karla

Avatar universal
Two vets did examine him and both said his heart sounded fine, and he had a negative heartworm test last month. I know what reverse sneezing is and this is not it, although he gets that on occaision! Not trachea collapse either. My vet put him on antibiotics and that along with cough meds brought the cough back to its " normal" level. I am just not sure why he has ANY cough. Again, it is NOT worsened by excersize. He sleeps a lot now and will cough laying down even. Its not severe at this time, more like a tickle that makes him "huff".
Avatar universal
Did you ever find out what was going on with your dog? My Aussie is doing something VERY similar to what you described and the vet is stumped.

I hope to hear from you!

Thanks!

Colleen
1 Comments
Have you found out anything new?  My Aussie has had the same cough for the past couple years, and only recently become worse.
The vets don’t know what it may be.
Avatar universal
It is probably enlarged heart caused by congestive heart failure.  Basically the heart gets really big and it starts touching the back of trachea.  Other times it is caused by fluid buildup in the lungs.  Anyways my dog was diagnosed with it and put on 3 different medicines: vetmedin, enarapril, and furosemide. She was also panting a lot before going on meds and panting went down after being on the meds for a few weeks. Definitely would recommend going to a vet cardiologist.
Avatar universal
hi, my guy has these exact same symptoms. He has always coughed a little after drinking, but over the last year it started progressing. I noticed when he lies on his back at first a couple of years ago. Then it started when he was waking up from sleeping last year. Like he had a tickle in his throat. Now it's more like a gagging cough and he shakes his head and wretches. I have had blood work and xrays and they said everything looks fine so they don't know what is causing it. My concern is that it's getting worse. They said the next thing to try would be a scope of his throat, but he'll need to go under and he's always had terrible reactions (huge blood blisters and swollen limps to the point he can't bend his legs) when he goes under. And the reactions were worse and worse each time he went under. He's older now and I don't know what is the humane thing to do. I know his throat must be sore from coughing so much. I've dried honey and bee propolis as well as cough syrup, but he hates it and acts like I'm trying to hurt him when I give it to him. Any updates you have on your dog and what has helped? I feel so sad for my poor old dog coughing like this.
Avatar universal
hi, my guy has these exact same symptoms. He has always coughed a little after drinking, but over the last year it started progressing. I noticed when he lies on his back at first a couple of years ago. Then it started when he was waking up from sleeping last year. Like he had a tickle in his throat. Now it's more like a gagging cough and he shakes his head and wretches. I have had blood work and xrays and they said everything looks fine so they don't know what is causing it. My concern is that it's getting worse. They said the next thing to try would be a scope of his throat, but he'll need to go under and he's always had terrible reactions (huge blood blisters and swollen limps to the point he can't bend his legs) when he goes under. And the reactions were worse and worse each time he went under. He's older now and I don't know what is the humane thing to do. I know his throat must be sore from coughing so much. I've dried honey and bee propolis as well as cough syrup, but he hates it and acts like I'm trying to hurt him when I give it to him. Any updates you have on your dog and what has helped? I feel so sad for my poor old dog coughing like this.
1 Comments
LesleyKim
Have you found out anything new?  My Aussie has had the same cough for the past couple years, and only recently become worse.
The vets don’t know what it may be.
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