Dog Coughing At Night. Is it kennel cough? Or Something Else?

Dog coughing at night, Pneumonia and other respiratory infections. Does it mean my dog is sick? This article explains…

A wet and phlegmy cough may represent an infection in the lower respiratory system. This could be a result of fluid accumulation in the lungs.

This is accompanied by difficulty breathing even when your dog is not coughing. Barking will make the coughing and discomfort worse.

This could mean that your dog has pneumonia that could be bacterial or viral. Dirty and dust could also be the reason why your dog is coughing, among other things.


Does My Dog Coughing at Night Mean My Dog is Sick?

Well, it does not necessarily mean that your dog is sick, but the answer is possible. It all depends on how your dog is coughing. For instance;

A high-pitched bark and gagging could mean your dog’s airways are blocked. This makes it hard for your dog to breathe or swallow anything.

Your dog coughing is his way of getting his air passage clear. You should have him checked by a vet to help clear his airways.


Dog Coughing – Aspiration Pneumonia

Aspiration pneumonia is a common illness, especially in vomiting dogs. It can result from regurgitating food, vomiting, or inhaling toxic substances.

For instance, your dog may develop aspiration pneumonia after inhaling gasoline and other foreign materials.


Inflammation Of The Lungs

This disease can also result from an obstructed airway and a problem with the esophagus. Due to this, there might be excessive fluids accumulated in the airway.

Your dog will need to cough to clear the airway, which might be painful. Your vet can diagnose aspiration pneumonia through chest x-rays, treatment, and care advice.

Other symptoms of aspiration pneumonia may include excessive panting, not eating, exercise intolerance, and fever.

If your dog has aspiration pneumonia from vomiting, your vet might also need abdominal x-rays. This will help determine the cause of vomiting, which will help with treatment.

However, you can be able to treat this illness. Your vet might recommend anti-vomiting medications as well as antibiotics.

With enough rest and a clean environment, your dog will recover within 2-3 weeks.


Dog Coughing – Chronic Bronchitis in Dogs

Chronic bronchitis leads to blockage of your dog’s airways due to irreversible inflammation of the walls of the bronchi.

Bronchi refer to the branches of smaller airways from the trachea. They are responsible for allowing oxygen exchange in the alveoli.

Now, those are medical terms; let’s look at it in layman’s terminology.

Chronic bronchitis causes irreversible damage to your dog’s lungs and usually lasts longer than most respiratory diseases.The illness is caused by various factors, parasites, and bacterial infections. Your vet will be able to diagnose your dog with conclusive results.

Some symptoms associated with chronic bronchitis include daily and excessive coughing and gasping for more extended periods.

Usually, the symptoms can last up to 3 months. However, you may seek treatment from your vet, who will require some X-rays.

And according to your dog’s medical history, the vet can determine the cause of the illness.


Cough Associated With Heart Disease

One of the most common symptoms of heart failure is chronic coughing over time. Congestive heart failure occurs when the heart cannot deliver enough blood to the body.

Due to this, fluid is reversed back to the lungs and abdomen. This will lead to chronic coughing in dogs.


Heart Disease in Dogs

Usually, this will be termed congestive heart failure. It is caused by your dog’s failure to deliver blood to the body.

This leads to the accumulation of fluids in the lungs, causing breathing difficulties, among other dysfunctions.

In medical terms, congestive heart failure is caused by mitral valve insufficiency, causing blood to leak back into the heart.

Heart failure can be on one side of the heart, depending on severity. It is essential to keep an eye on your dog if you are afraid he might suffer heart failure.

This is because the condition can be deadly if left untreated.

Before we look at the symptoms of heart failure in dogs, let us quickly list the risk factors that may contribute to congestive heart failure in dogs;


The size of your dog

Large dogs are at high risk of dilated cardiomyopathy, which is known to cause congestive heart failure.

This condition means that your dog’s heart has enlarged and thus cannot pump blood as it should. Always check your dog for CHF if you own a sizeable canine friend.



Smaller dogs have been at higher risk of getting heart failure at some point. These breeds include Chihuahuas and poodles.

This is due to their chance of contracting degenerative valve disease, which makes fluid leak back into the heart. You should have your puppy checked up by the vet regularly.



Older dogs are at risk of heart failure, especially dogs over the age of 16 years.



Adult heartworms may clog the heart leading to improper function of the heart.

However, we will discuss this later on.



This is mainly caused by poor diet and lack of exercise.

You should look into what you feed your dog and schedule his practices.


Symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs

Some symptoms of congestive heart failure may include a persistent cough accompanied mainly by breathing difficulties. Your dog may appear tied, which may result in exercise intolerance.

He may also have reduced energy levels and excessive panting, leading to decreased activity and the need to rest.

You may notice general weight loss in your dog and swelling.

Your vet can diagnose your dog through X-rays, blood, and urine tests to rule out any other medical conditions.

The vet may also conduct a heartworm test and ultrasound for a conclusive diagnosis. After this, your vet will recommend the necessary treatment for your dog.

These might include medication to correct irregular heartbeats and slow the fluid accumulating in the lungs.

In severe cases, the vet may recommend surgery to correct the faulty valves.

In addition, you may need to change your dog’s diet to a low-salt diet to manage the condition.


Heartworm Disease

Heartworms can be life-threatening if left untreated since they can clog the heart. They live in the dog’s body, and if not treated, they might cause critical heart conditions.

One thing for sure is that it is pretty manageable to treat heartworm disease but difficult. The best approach for this is to prevent infections.

The diseases are transmitted through mosquito bites, especially in areas with wildlife. The parasite is deposited into the host’s body.

It can last up to 7 months before the worm becomes an adult, which will cause your dog medical problems.

Unfortunately, in the early stages of heartworm disease in dogs, you may not notice any symptoms.

However, your dog may experience mild persistent cough and exercise intolerance when they start showing.

He may also appear tired after limited activity and have lower stamina than usual.

When heartworms grow into adult worms, they will lead to the blockage of the blood flow in the heart.

This will contribute to possible heart failure, which is life-threatening to your dog. This may also cause blood leakage into the lungs and mucus in the windpipe, thus inducing cough.


Heartworm Treatment In Dogs

Treatment of heartworm is time-consuming and costly and sometimes may lead to complications. This is especially after surgery to clear the blockage in the heart.

However, prevention is cost-effective and leaves your dog healthy.

Since we cannot tell what region has a prevalence of heartworm disease, it is wise always to treat our dogs.

You can do this by using preventive medicine, mostly oral pills or even topical skin creams and products.

Your vet should be able to recommend the best medication to use. Preventative medicine is usually effective in killing larvae heartworms before they become adults.

We have already stated that heartworm disease is transmitted through mosquito bites.

What are some of the risk factors for heartworm disease?


Risk Factors Contributing to Heartworm Disease

It is difficult to predict the risk factors for heartworm disease, but we have managed to draw a few. For instance, the environment in which you live could be a contributing factor.

However, the condition is a potential threat in many parts of the world, so you should always treat your dog.

However, the availability of wild animals in your area might put your dog at risk. This is because mosquitoes might bite a wild animal and later bite your dog.

It is important to note that heartworms can also be found in pets and wildlife animals.

Some other regions are more prevalent in heartworm disease than others. You will have to treat your dog against the condition regularly.


Laryngeal Paralysis

This is another cause of coughing in dogs that various factors can influence. However, the cause of laryngeal paralysis has not been well defined, although it can be hereditary.

Some breeds are at more risk of laryngeal paralysis than others.

Age is another contributing factor to the disease, affecting your dog’s voice box. Breeds that are susceptible to laryngeal paralysis include the Siberian Husky and Dalmatians.

Untreated infections and neuromuscular diseases also contribute to the paralysis of the larynx. Obesity can make your dog’s condition worse.

Your pet will have trouble breathing when the voice box fails, especially in warm climates. This makes it hard for him to bark or perform any vocal activities.

Not only does age contribute to laryngeal paralysis, but also the size of your dog. Larger breeds are at higher risk than smaller breeds of dogs.

This condition is usually mistaken for old age and arthritis if not well diagnosed by a vet.


Laryngeal Paralysis In Dogs – Symptoms

Some of the symptoms of Laryngeal paralysis include coughing, wheezing, and panting. Your dog may also experience distress in breathing, especially in warm surroundings, and weight loss.

He might find it difficult to exercise or perform any physical activities.

Unfortunately, this disease can be life-threatening if left untreated. The vet might ask about your dog’s history during diagnosis as well as the breed of your dog.

He will perform blood and urine tests to rule out any other infections before making a conclusive examination.


Treatment – Surgery To Correct The Voice Box

You should, however, ensure your dog is not in warm and poorly ventilated places while awaiting surgery.

The vet might also put your dog on sedation and oxygen therapy administered in the vet care.


Tracheal Collapse in Dogs

A honking cough could mean your dog has a tracheal collapse, which is common in obese dogs. Let us look at collapsed trachea in dogs further;

This is a condition that the domestication of dogs has primarily influenced.

Natural dogs weigh about 40 pounds, but through breeding, we have been able to alter the genetics of our dogs.

We have been able to come up with smaller breeds of dogs. For instance, we have poodles and Chihuahuas with the smaller trachea, better known as the windpipe.

Even though they are born with solid windpipes, age and weight could also contribute to this condition.

One of the first signs of tracheal collapse is usually a honking cough with difficulty breathing. Barking or any form of strain will make it even worse.

The condition can be diagnosed through radiography by your vet. You should always check your dog if coughing because it is never a good sign.


Kennel Dog Cough

This is the most common reason most dogs cough at night and is treatable. Kennel cough is quite common among canines, and unfortunately, it is also highly contagious.

Did you leave your dog at daycare service, and now he appears to have a cold?

This could be a kennel cough affecting your canine friend.

As typical as kennel cough is, it can be severe, especially in puppies and dogs with a weakened immune system.

Also known as canine infectious tracheobronchitis, the disease is transmitted in three main ways;


Airborne Droplets

As mentioned earlier, kennel cough is quite contagious among dogs. If your dog comes into contact with infected airborne droplets from an infected dog, he is likely to contract the disease.

For instance, one of the most common symptoms of this infection is coughing and sneezing.

When an infected dog coughs, emitting droplets into the air, another dog in the same room or kennel is likely to contract the disease.


Direct Contact

This is also another risk, especially if you have a social dog who loves to rub his nose with his friends.

Through direct contact, your dog might encounter infected nasal fluid and contract the disease.

It could be that you took him out to the dog park, show, or even training groups.


Contaminated Surfaces

You should always feed your dog in a clean and exclusive bowl.

Even if you own two canine friends, it is essential always to ensure that each has his bowl. This will limit the risk of getting infected.

Dogs will eat and lick their bowls after a satisfying delicacy, leaving their saliva and other fluids. If one dog is infected with kennel cough, it is likely to transmit it to the other.

Even though a kennel cough is treatable, it can be severe in immune-compromised dogs and puppies younger than six months.


Symptoms of Kennel Cough in Dogs

Kennel cough can be viral or bacterial, depending on the causal agent. If your dog has kennel cough, he might show the following symptoms;

Fatigue – like the human flu, a kennel dog will put your pup down for weeks. He will be tired with no interest in partaking in the physical activities he used to.

Due to decreased energy levels, he might develop the need to rest more often than usual.

Poor appetite – Dogs with kennel coughs will not be interested in eating.

Unusual, right? He will have a poor appetite and refuse to eat, leading to weight loss.

A dry cough – This is the foremost symptom you are likely to observe in your dog. It is more of a dry cough, although some dogs do excrete mucus when coughing.

You might keep a honking cough that is usually persistent and constant. The saddest part about this cough is that it does not go away for weeks.

Other dogs will cough in their sleep while walking or carrying out any other activities.

Fever – Your dog will develop a fever when his body is trying to fight all the pathogens. Usually, the fever is mild and nothing to worry about.

However, dogs with symptoms of kennel cough should be taken to the vet for a conclusive diagnosis.

Nasal discharge – Just like humans, dogs will experience similar symptoms to those of influenza while dealing with kennel cough.

These might include a running nose with nasal discharge. It is important to remember that the release can transmit the disease to another dog.


Kennel Cough – Diagnosis and Treatment

Kennel’s cough is not difficult to examine and diagnose. Treatment involves about two weeks of rest in combination with antibiotics.

The vet might recommend antibiotics to prevent a secondary infection while your dog recovers.

To manage kennel dogs, you should provide your dog with fresh water and food if he can eat at all. The vet might also recommend cough medication and isolation from other dogs for a while.

This is done to prevent transmission of the disease to other dogs and to prevent any secondary infection your dog might contract.

As your dog recovers, you should also make sure that your dog is in a well-ventilated room to avoid suffocation and strain on the respiratory system.

You may also involve your dog in moderate exercises as he gets better. This will help prevent some behavioral vices, among others.


How Do I Ease Barking Dog Cough?

We have discussed the various conditions that may lead to barking dog cough. However, even on medication, you may need to devise a way to take care of your dog.

Sometimes the cough is painful, and you can see your dog straining.

Worry not because there is something you can do to ease a cough;


Home remedies to barking dog cough

a) Rest

It cannot be emphasized enough how much rest your dog needs when ill. It is time to get off your daily routine and let your pup rest for a few days as he recovers.

However, you should involve him in mild activities and stop whenever he sits to rest.

This is because it is only natural for your dog to be active rather than sleeping all day and night. Idleness may lead to boredom which may result in quite some undesirable behaviors.

Your dog should not strain at all when he is recovering.


b)  Botanical Oils

Eucalyptus contains some antiseptic properties crucial in easing your dog’s cough and cold.

However, to avoid making your dog feel worse, always consult with your vet for the best oil to use. Peppermint oils also help ease congestion, while lavender oil will soothe a cough.

To administer this, you may use peppermint/eucalyptus air fresheners to ease nasal and chest congestion.


c) Honey

In combination with herbs, honey is known to soothe coughs in humans and dogs. However, you should be careful when administering love to obese and diabetic dogs.

This is due to the high sugar content in honey. You should consult the vet if your dog has either of the illnesses.


d) Chicken broth

Again, just like chicken soup is a remedy for multiple human diseases, it also helps soothe cough and irritation in dogs.

You can add chicken soup to your dog’s diet, making it taste and smell better. This is helpful, especially in dogs with a poor appetite from coughing.

However, you should not give the same human broth to your dog. You should ensure that the broth is low in salt or buy some from the store.


e) Coconut oil and cinnamon

These two products contain antiviral properties. If your dog’s cough results from a viral infection, coconut oil and cinnamon will help fight the pathogens.

You can administer small amounts of cinnamon to your dog’s food.

You can choose to administer coconut oil by putting it in your pup’s food or even giving him a spoonful of the oil.

This helps treat and nurse kennel dog cough.


f) Cough Syrup

Most illnesses that bring about coughing are respiratory. Just like we need cough syrups to ease a cough and the pain that comes with it, you may opt to get your dog some too.

Too much coughing is going to hurt your dog even more.

Sadly, your dog will not be at peace since he will cough persistently for days. Your vet may recommend the use of cough syrup to ease these symptoms.

In addition, the only way to deal with barking dog cough is by visiting your vet. This is important because the vet can tell the cause of the coughing.

Not only will your dog undergo a proper check-up, but also the vet will administer the best treatment for him.


In conclusion

There can only be so many reasons why dogs cough. A vet should determine this after a thorough examination to develop a conclusive diagnosis.

You should ensure your dog lives in a well-ventilated and clean environment.

If your dog has kennel cough, you should isolate him from other dogs to prevent transmission or your dog developing a secondary illness.

Lastly, it is important to always protect our dogs from developing common diseases like heartworm, which can be life-threatening.

Puppies should be vaccinated against viral and bacterial illnesses, especially between 6 weeks and six months.

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