In this article, we will answer the following question: Why is my Yorkie coughing? We will discuss the most common reasons behind a dog’s cough, and ways to prevent and treat any health issues related to coughs.
Why is my Yorkie coughing?
There are several reasons why your Yorkie is coughing. Although minor respiratory problems are most often behind coughs, sometimes more serious illnesses or health problems can be hidden.
Coughing is a sudden expulsion of air from the respiratory tract whose function is to eliminate secretions, mucus, or any substance that has been breathed in. Depending on how long it lasts, it can be an acute cough (a short period such as minutes, hours, or a few days) or a chronic cough (a cough that lasts for several days, weeks, and even months).
It can also be a wet cough accompanied by discharge or a dry cough. Each has different origins.
Types of coughs in dogs and their reason
Below we will explore the most common types of coughs in dogs, how to prevent and treat them.
Irritating cough: Cough caused by irritation of the respiratory system can come from the larynx, trachea, lungs, or bronchi and for different reasons. For example, the cough can come from a collapse of the trachea derived from excessive pressure from the dog’s collar or blow to the throat, in these cases, it is a goose cough, a long sound that ends with a low tone.
It can also be a dry cough derived from inflammation of the respiratory tract caused by allergies and exposure to some external environmental agents (food, dust, chemicals …).
When the cough comes from the upper respiratory tract (larynx or trachea) it is a weak cough, after coughing the dog swallows saliva, it is normal that it is due to a simple sore throat that may be accompanied by inflammation such as tonsillitis, pharyngitis, or angina. Protect him from cold and frosts.
Infectious cough: Dry cough can be the main symptom of respiratory infections that must be treated with antibiotics such as infectious tonsillitis, inflammation of the tonsils that cause an obstruction in the throat, and that if it is chronic, the removal of the tonsils may be necessary.
Infectious tracheobronchitis or kennel cough is another viral respiratory infection whose main symptom is a dry cough. If the dog is a young adult in strong health with antibiotics, the cough may appear in a week, but if it is a puppy or older or with a deficient immune system it can lead to chronic bronchitis or pneumonia.
Pneumonia cough, inflammation of the lungs caused by infection by a virus or bacteria, characterized by the presence of a wet cough accompanied by the expectoration of fluids and phlegm in the lungs.
Coughing and gagging attacks can also come from a parasite infection. There is a type of worm that in their initial stages when larvae migrate from the intestine to the throat or lung, it is not a very dangerous infection and can be prevented with periodic internal deworming.
Heartworms are transmitted by the bite of a mosquito and if they manage to stay in the heart for a long time, they cause constant attacks of dry cough and retching, a serious disease that needs a strong 6-month treatment that is not a guarantee of cure.
Cough due to genetic abnormalities: Some breeds of dogs have genetic abnormalities that make them prone to sore throats and chronic dry cough attacks.
For example, snub-nosed dogs such as the Bulldog, Pekingese, or Shih Tzu, have the veil of the palate elongated back and this causes them in some cases to suffer throat irritations, which are treated with corticosteroids and antibiotics.
Other breeds such as the Yorkshire or Pomeranian tend to have partially closed trachea, which causes constant attacks of dry cough and can be treated with tracheal massage to reduce inflammation.
Laryngeal paralysis is a dysfunction of the nerves that control the muscles and cartilage that open and close the larynx. This problem can lead to difficulty eating or breathing and a dry cough. Laryngeal paralysis can be acquired or congenital, the latter is common in breeds such as Siberian Husky, Rottweiler, Dalmatian or Bull Terrier.
Cough from heart problems: Heart problems usually occur in dogs older than 10 years. There can be a progressive enlargement of the heart that ends up compressing the trachea or the main bronchus and this will stimulate coughing. In these cases, the coughing attack usually occurs when the dog is lying on the sternum.
Cough from lung tumor: If the dry cough is accompanied by phlegm and blood, especially in older dogs, it may be due to a lung tumor, there is no treatment for this ailment, but there is to alleviate the symptoms.
Consult the vet! When your dog coughs and you do not know the cause, it is advisable to consult our trusted vet. It will be he, through the examination of the animal, who determines the cause of the cough by taking temperature, auscultating, observing the mucous membranes of the dog, or through more advanced studies such as X-rays, ultrasound, cardiography, electrocardiography.
Cough is a symptom of disease, it is not a disease as such, so to solve the problem it is not a matter of prescribing a cough suppressant but of specifying the origin of the cough and determining the treatment.
Dry cough in dogs
A dry cough is often associated with a well-known illness called kennel cough, acute tracheobronchitis, or canine respiratory complex, which is caused by various viruses and the bacterium Bordetella bronchiseptica.
If your dog has a dry cough and retching, he could be suffering from this pathology, but he could also suffer from pharyngitis, which in dogs is associated with different diseases, such as infections in the mouth, in the respiratory system or systemic, such as parvovirus or the distemper.
Another example of the origin of a dry cough is chronic bronchitis, with the difference that the cough can be productive in some specimens. But not all coughs are due to respiratory conditions since a dry cough after exercise or more intense at night can indicate the disease of one of the valves of the heart.
Why does my dog have a dry cough and is gagging?
If our dog has a dry cough and retching, the first thing to be clear about is that there is more than one cause that can trigger this condition. The most prominent are the following:
- Infections in the respiratory tract, such as kennel cough, but also distemper.
- Inhalation of substances with irritating effects, such as smoke.
- Congestive heart failure
- Chronic bronchitis
- Tumors in the respiratory tract.
- Use of very tight collars.
- Excessive barking
- Parasites such as filaria or some intestinal worms.
- Presence of foreign bodies in the throat, esophagus, or lungs.
My dog coughs and seems to be choking
If your dog has a cough and seems to be choking, it is most likely that it is foreign bodies in the throat that prevent him from taking in the air normally and, therefore, the body tries to expel them.
It is possible that he has something stuck in his throat that he cannot remove on his own, so we recommend you go to the vet as soon as possible to check that this is the problem and proceed to remove the foreign body.
The aforementioned causes could also cause your dog to cough a lot and choke, which is why it is so important to visit a specialist.
What to give my dog who has a dry cough? – Treatment
Unless we are clear about the cause of the cough, for example, the presence of smoke, in which case we would have to eliminate the trigger, or a too-tight collar that we would only have to loosen, if your dog has a dry cough and retching you should contact the vet.
Above all, do not use cough suppressants on your own. Only this professional can examine the dog and perform the pertinent tests to locate the cause. A chest X-ray or, in chronic cases, intratracheal lavage may be necessary. And it is very important to reach the diagnosis since the treatment will depend on it.
For example, when faced with a foreign body, it may be necessary to remove it, while an infection such as kennel cough will require the administration of drugs such as antibiotics to prevent opportunistic bacterial infections. This disease can become serious in some specimens, which will need to be admitted to the clinic to receive intensive treatment to help them breathe with some normality.
In addition, the management of dogs with acute tracheobronchitis implies keeping them in isolated rooms from other congeners, with a comfortable temperature, well ventilated, and, if possible, with a humidifier. The dog also has to do moderate exercise every day. It should be noted that there is a vaccine against this disease.
On the other hand, when the cough is due to a heart problem, it is necessary to establish a veterinary follow-up, feed the dog a special diet, control exercise, and medicate depending on the symptoms that it presents.
The bottom line
Coughing is a reflex that is triggered after irritation in the respiratory tract. It is the attempt of the body to get rid of the discomfort it feels in that area, expelling it to the outside. The cough is said to be self-perpetuating because each access dries out the mucous membranes, so that the entire respiratory tract becomes irritated, causing even more coughing.
There are different types of coughs in dogs such as deep, dry, harsh, wet, productive, sharp, weak, prolonged, squawking, etc. Also, the cough can be chronic or acute. The characteristics of the cough help determine the cause of the cough.
Once the diagnosis is obtained and treatment has started, in addition to following the veterinarian’s instructions, we can apply the following home remedies for a dog with a cough and retching:
- Maintain good hydration to prevent the airways from drying out.
- Avoid any potential irritants such as smoke, aerosols, pollution, dust, etc.
- Use a humidifier or take advantage of the steam that is generated in the bathroom while you shower with hot water.
- Do not allow excessive physical activity.
- Walking it with a harness better than with a collar.
- If you do not have a humidifier, steam baths are especially recommended to clear the airways and favor the treatment that the dog with a cough and gagging should follow.
Likewise, following a balanced diet and, preferably, soft to favor the passage of food through the digestive system is more than recommended. For this, it will also be the veterinarian who stipulates the best diet depending on the cause that is causing these symptoms.
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FAQ on Why is my Yorkie coughing?
Why does my dog keep coughing like he has a hairball?
Your dog may be coughing like he has a hairball because he could suffer from something called kennel cough, or canine infectious tracheobronchitis. You should take him to the vet as soon as possible.
What can I give my dog for coughing?
For coughing, you should give your dog only drugs that were prescribed by a vet. Otherwise, for homemade recipes, you can use about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of honey three to four times a day. Adjust the quantities, according to your dog’s size.
Why does my dog keep gagging?
If your dog keeps gagging he may have an infection or laryngeal paralysis. The aforementioned causes could also cause your dog to cough a lot and choke, which is why it is so important to visit a specialist.
When should I take my coughing dog to the vet?
You should take your coughing dog to the vet if the cough persists and also if he is showing additional symptoms such as a fever, red eyes, diarrhea or loss of appetite.