Why Is My Dog Coughing: What Should I Do?

When you adopt a dog or puppy, you become responsible for its health. This is why seeing or hearing your dog coughing can be very concerning.

But before you panic and call the vet, keep in mind that there are many reasons why your dog may be coughing.

While it’s always best to call the vet if you have concerns about your pet, a simple cough may not require urgent and emergency veterinary intervention.

So, in this guide, we’ll be taking a look at a couple of the reasons your dog may be coughing.

Additionally, we’ll be explaining the different things you can do to assess the situation when you notice your dog coughing. That way, there’s no more cause or need for you to panic when your dog coughs.

Reasons Your Dog May Be Coughing

The thing about dogs is that there are a variety of reasons they could be coughing. In fact, sometimes they may not be coughing and are just sneezing. So, it can be really hard for a person to instantly determine the cause of their dog’s cough.

But to help you ease your mind, here are some of the most common reasons your dog may be coughing.

It’s Actually a Reverse Sneeze

As mentioned earlier, your dog may actually be sneezing and not coughing. Dogs tend to reverse sneeze from time to time, and it can look and sound like your dog is coughing. If the “coughs” come in batches, it could just be a reverse sneeze.

There are many things that can cause reverse sneezes. However, most of the time it means that your dog’s nasal passages are irritated by parasites, foreign materials, and other irritants.


Another reason your dog may be coughing is because of an infection. This happens when bacteria, viruses, or fungi enter your dog’s respiratory tracts. Examples of viral infections are pneumonia, kennel cough, and bronchitis.

The most common infection for dogs that causes them to cough is kennel cough. This infection spreads fast, so if you notice other dogs coughing in your neighborhood, this could be the reason.


In more serious cases, your dog may be coughing because of an underlying disease or health condition. This could be a heart condition mitral valve endocarditis, dilated cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and other diseases. These are very serious conditions and may be accompanied by other symptoms.

Additionally, your dog’s coughing may actually be a sign of a collapsed trachea. If you suspect that your dog is going through any of these more serious conditions, it’s important to call your vet immediately.

What To Do When Your Dog Is Coughing

When you catch your dog coughing, it can potentially cause you to panic. However, in these situations, this is the worst thing you can do. Remember, in most cases, your dog’s cough is nothing to worry about, so you don’t need to panic.

And in the rare times where your dog’s cough indicates something more serious, panicking can make the situation worse. So, before you run around calling your vet and bringing your dog in for treatment, make sure to take a deep breath and assess the situation.

After calming down, you’re ready to start figuring out what to do. So, here are the first things you have to do if ever you notice your dog coughing.

Check for Other Symptoms

Before you even consider calling the vet, make sure to take a look at your dog. If you caught them coughing, try to observe them see if they do it again. If they cough once and seem to be fine afterward, there might have just been something stuck in their throat. Additionally, make sure that your dog is actually coughing and it isn’t actually a reverse sneeze.

Another thing to do is to check for other symptoms that will help you describe their condition to the vet. Try to see if your dog is acting lethargic or differently than how they usually act. If they aren’t as hyper or happy as usual, then that might indicate that there’s something more serious happening.

Additionally, you also might want to check if your dog is vomiting or experiencing diarrhea. If you see your dog vomiting after they cough, try to inspect the vomit. The color and consistency of your dog’s vomit can play a huge role in determining the causes.

For example, if your dog’s vomit contains white foam, then that might be a mixture of stomach juices and saliva. Spot & Tango has an in-depth guide on white foam in your dog’s vomit, which is a great read for any dog owner looking to learn more about their pets.

Call Your Veterinarian

Another important thing to do if you notice your dog coughing is to call your vet. Since most of the time, a dog coughing isn’t urgent, a simple call would do. And from there, your vet can determine if your dog needs immediate medical attention or if it can wait.

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