Is your furry friend constantly coughing, and you’re unsure of how to make them feel better? Worry not. This guide will discuss the common causes of coughing in pets, how to prevent them, and effective ways to manage this issue. Let’s dive in and explore the world of coughing pets.

Common Causes of Coughing in Pets

Kennel Cough (Bordetella bronchiseptica)

One of the most common reasons for coughing in pets, especially dogs, is kennel cough, caused by the bacterium Bordetella bronchiseptica. This highly contagious infection typically results in a persistent, forceful cough. In most cases, kennel cough is not life-threatening and will resolve independently, but it’s crucial to consult a reliable veterinarian like Choice Veterinary Specialists for treatment and prevention measures.

Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (CIRDC)

Another common cause of coughing in pets is the Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (CIRDC), which occurs when pets inhale bacteria or virus particles into their respiratory tract. Common viruses that make pets more susceptible to this complex include canine adenovirus, canine distemper virus, canine herpes virus, canine influenza virus, parainfluenza virus, and canine reovirus. 

Pets with CIRDC may exhibit symptoms similar to kennel coughs, such as sneezing, runny nose, and eye discharge. Consult your veterinarian for proper diagnosis, treatment, and prevention strategies.

Viral Infections

Pets can also contract viral infections that cause coughing, such as canine distemper and canine herpes. Many of these infections can be prevented with regular vaccinations from your veterinarian. Always keep your pet’s vaccination schedule up-to-date to ensure optimal health and resilience against these diseases.

Fungal Infections

Fungal infections, such as yeast and other fungi picked up from the dirt or air, can also lead to coughing in pets. Your veterinarian may prescribe antifungal medications to help combat such infections and promote your pet’s overall well-being.


Mosquitoes can transmit heartworms to pets, leading to coughing and other severe symptoms. Maintaining your pet on monthly heartworm prevention medications or using long-acting injectables provided by your veterinarian is crucial. Treating heartworms can be challenging and expensive; prevention is always better than cure.


Distemper is a viral infection that spreads through the air and can cause coughing in pets. Vaccinations can prevent this serious illness, so always ensure your pet’s vaccinations are regularly updated to protect them from distemper.

Heart Disease and Congestive Heart Failure

Heart-related issues, such as leaky valves and other heart problems, can cause coughing in pets. Congestive heart failure can also produce coughing due to fluid buildup in the lungs. Treating these conditions typically involves medications, dietary adjustments, and veterinarian-approved exercise routines for your pet.

When dealing with heart-related issues, it is essential to consult a veterinary cardiologist, a specialist in treating heart conditions in pets. Qualified specialists providing vet cardiology in Westminster can provide comprehensive care and guidance for your pet’s heart health.

Lung Problems and Tracheal Collapse

Lung problems, such as bronchitis or pneumonia, can lead to coughing in pets. In rare cases, pets may suffer from tracheal collapse, which leads to a harsh, dry cough and difficulty breathing. Seeking veterinary care is essential for accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plans.

For pets with persistent or severe respiratory issues, it is recommended to consult a respiratory vet specialist. These qualified veterinarians can provide in-depth evaluations and customized treatment plans to manage chronic respiratory conditions effectively.

Vaccination for Cough Prevention in Pets

Vaccines play a vital role in preventing many common cough-inducing illnesses in pets. Vaccinations available for pets include injectables, nasal mist, and oral forms. Consult your veterinarian for the recommended vaccine schedule for your pet, as pets at higher risk for these illnesses may require more frequent vaccinations. Remember that vaccines are not guaranteed protection and will not treat active infections.

Factors Affecting Pet Coughing

Several environmental and lifestyle factors can contribute to coughing in pets. To minimize the risk, consider the following:

  • Avoid exposure to crowded or poorly ventilated environments.
  • Protect your pet from freezing temperatures.
  • Minimize exposure to dust or cigarette smoke.
  • Reduce travel-induced stress.
  • Provide a balanced diet and regular exercise, as advised by your veterinarian.

Managing Coughing in Pets

When your pet is coughing, the following management strategies can be helpful:

  • Use home remedies such as humidifiers and steam therapy to ease coughing.
  • Seek veterinary help for persistent or worsening symptoms.
  • Consider using medications prescribed by your veterinarian, such as antibiotics, cough suppressants, or anti-inflammatory drugs, in conjunction with environmental management.
  • Using a harness instead of a collar can minimize coughing for pets that strain on the leash.

The Bottom Line

As a responsible pet owner, understanding the causes of coughing in pets and how to prevent and properly manage them is crucial to maintaining your pet’s overall health. Work closely with your veterinarian to ensure your beloved companion receives the best care possible and lives a happy, healthy life.