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My dog's cough is lasting weeks. What could it be?

Closeup of a Yorkie's face.

(Photo: Flickr/Andrew Petersen)

My dog's cough is lasting weeks. What could it be?

December 18, 2012

Q: My Yorkie keeps coughing like he has something in his throat. What could it be? He is 6 months old and has been doing this for a couple of weeks.

A: Dogs can develop upper respiratory illnesses such kennel cough and canine influenza as well as bronchitis and inhaled allergies. You can read about bronchitis here.

It's possible that sneezing and nasal congestion can be due to an allergic reaction to an inhaled substance. If this is the case, Benadryl can be given to your dog; the dose is up to 2mg per pound every 8 hours.

Kennel cough is normally contracted when a dog has been boarded or kenneled or around a large number of dogs such as at a dog show, dog park, or pet store. Here is a website with more information on kennel cough.

Canine influenza is now becoming more prevalent and, like it sounds, it is a canine flu. Here is an excellent article from the CDC on it.

You will want to monitor your dog's condition looking for colored discharge from the nose or eyes, a productive cough (coughs stuff up), stops eating or lethargy. These are signs of a possible bacterial infection as well and my require antibiotics. If your dog appears to be having a difficult time breathing, you will need to see your vet, as some dogs dog get really sick with canine influenza and need support to recover.

To help your dog breathe easier you can run a NON-medicated humidifier in the room your dog is in, or sit in a steamed up bathroom with your dog to help keep the mucous moving. Robitussin DM at a 1/4 teaspoon per 5 pounds can be used to control the cough. Obtain dosages at this website.

If your dog has not had all its vaccinations, I urge you to have your dog seen as soon as possible.

There are other reasons for coughs, such as heart problems, which should be investigated if your dog is not on heartworm preventative or is an older dog. The following site reviews canine coughs.

It is likely to be kennel cough, so I would have your dog seen so some antibiotics can be prescribed.

-- Answer from Jane Lefler, dog behaviorist and breeder on JustAnswer.

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