Any irritation, such as pollen, dust, household or cosmetic products sprayed into the air, can cause your dog to cough. The cough mechanism is the way he clears his airways. Minor coughing is no big deal, but if the coughing is accompanied by rapid or labored breathing, weight loss, low energy levels, blue gums or tongue, a history of heart disease or heart murmurs or old age, your pet should see a vet within 24 hours.
Your vet will examine your dog¹s chest, throat and neck. Suggested tests might include blood tests or a chest X-ray. Bronchial disease is common in dogs. If suspected, antibiotics, bronchodilators and/or steroids may be prescribed. Canine bronchitis is not easily cured, but can be kept under control.
Although upper respiratory disease in vaccinated dogs is usually fairly mild, a suspected upper respiratory disease, especially in a puppy, requires prompt veterinary care. Keep infected dogs isolated from others and wash your hands after touching infected animals. Disinfect floors and dog bowls with a household bleach solution of four ounces per gallon of water. Although usually not life-threatening, upper respiratory diseases can become chronic. Dogs which have recovered from these diseases can become carriers and infect others, especially puppies or dogs with weakened immune systems.
If a heart problem or malignant tumor is suspected, your vet may suggest an electrocardiogram, urinalysis or an echocardiogram. Some heart conditions, if caught in time, can be controlled by drugs or homeopathic remedies.
A convulsive, chronic cough with harsh, wheezy breathing may be an indication of canine asthma. Asthma is often caused by an allergen in the environment. As in humans, it can be controlled by medication, but there is no cure.
In minor cases, you can help clear irritants from your dog's lungs by using an air vaporizer or by taking your dog into the bathroom and turning on the hot water in the shower to produce steam. After fifteen minutes, you should see some relief of your dog's symptoms. If the "steam room" technique seems to worsen the condition, stop treatment and make an appointment with the vet.
For adult dogs with a dry cough with no other symptoms, you may administer cough syrups containing only guaifenesin (glyceryl guaiacolate), such as Robitussin. Do not administer any cough syrup with the additives, PE (phenylephrine), AC (codeine), CF or DM (dextromethorphan). A call to your veterinarian can help you determine dosage and frequency for administering over-the-counter medications.