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Coughing in senior dog...

Started 1288366172.833 in Pet Lovers | Last reply 1295228498.47 by chichimom

Hi all, my 13 year old Lab has had a problem with this for a few years, she sounds like she is yakking up a hairball a few times a day. When it first started I rushed her to the Vet thinking it was congestive heart failure...she was clear, all blood work has been fine the last few years, she is parasite free, but she does have a heart murmur (I never knew that until a couple of years ago, maybe just brought on by old age).

None of the Vets I have consulted seem very concerned about it - maybe just a normal old age thing. I have tried giving her bread with honey on it - she doesn't like honey LOL. I am going to set the humidifier up again, now that the heat is on. Does anyone have any ideas of safe things to give her...it is so scary when she does this?

Thanks in advance

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AnikaBrodie1288369101.4314771 PostsRegistered 1/29/2008The state of mountains and valleys

Does she sound like she has something caught in her throat when she coughs? This is a symptom of kennel cough. Has she been around other dogs recently or has she been kept at a kennel in the recent past? You may want to google canine kennel cough for additional information on symptoms and treatments for this. I've been told there is a prevalence of kennel cough in our area this year. So, this may be a possibility worth checking out.

~~~The Silver Fox ~~~
“... We don't meet people by accident. They are meant to cross our path for a reason..." (Anonymous)

dreamytoo1288369374.4371909 PostsRegistered 11/21/2007

Thank you for your reply... no kennel cough, she has not been around any other dogs except our own family, and has not been boarded. She has had it for 3 years, it is a dry cough, nothing comes up, it seems to happen when she becomes excited. I am sure it has something to do with her heart, the older she gets the more frightening it becomes to me.

disdatmac1288369750.4132534 PostsRegistered 12/6/2006New England USA

Are you sure it's a cough, and not a "reverse sneeze". One of my dogs does that off and on, and it's very scary, but not harmful. If you google, you can find a video or two of the noise, and compare it to your dog.

Dogs cough and sneeze just like we do, and if it's a cold, or even kennel cough, it usually goes away on its own within a few days. I don't like over medicating my dogs with anti-biotics or vaccinations.

I wouldn't give a dog bread or honey. Unless you are giving raw honey with bits of pollen from bee keepers in your local area, honey is just liquid sugar. It's processed and boiled, so all the "goodness" is removed. (and don't even get me started on white bread....LOL)

Best thing to do is get her immune system up. Make sure you are feeding a good quality dog food. If you can, switch to a RAW diet, although I know that is not for everyone.

:) debbie T

Islandgirl­70321288369877.39312846 PostsRegistered 6/7/2007Savannah, GA

My sheltie who passed away in Aprl had a cough just like that and it was from an enlarged heart.

Maybe you should see a different vet for a chest x-ray.

ETA: Once he was put on BP meds, his cough went away.

Good luck to your sweet baby{#emotions_dlg.wub}

Last edited on 10/29/2010

Last edited on 10/29/2010




Grandkidsx51288369911.37318 PostsRegistered 10/29/2010

Happened to my elderly Boston Terriers....it was heart trouble. When elderly dogs start coughing my vet said it is usually a sign of heart problems. Take your pooch to the vet and they'll be able to diagnose properly.

Best of luck to you and your pooch.

Dachsie1288370051.782607 PostsRegistered 6/4/2006

It could also be beginnings of pneumonia.

Also, coughing is a symtom of latter stage heart worms.

cjdw1288370331.413456 PostsRegistered 4/17/2005Zinzinnati, on the banks of the beautifui Ohio
On 10/29/2010 Islandgirl7032 said:

My sheltie who passed away in Aprl had a cough just like that and it was from an enlarged heart.

Maybe you should see a different vet for a chest x-ray.

ETA: Once he was put on BP meds, his cough went away.

Good luck to your sweet baby{#emotions_dlg.wub}

Last edited on 10/29/2010
My 12 yr old chihuahua was recently diagnosed with an enlarged heart too. Hacking after drinking water, and sometimes for no apparent reason. Is improved with meds, but there is no cure for this condition. Sadly, our wonderful animal friends leave us all to soon. {#emotions_dlg.sad}

dreamytoo1288370648.7831909 PostsRegistered 11/21/2007

Thanks all,

She was due for a hw test last month... but has had two since the coughing began, both were negative. She is also on year round treatment, but during the cold winter months we do a 40 day schedule. If it was pneumonia, I don't think she would last three years with it.

I think because of her advanced age, the Vets do not want to do anything invasive on her...she is a big girl and turned 13 in September, she has been through a lot of surgeries, and last time we were told to love her and keep her comfortable as best we could. She is on antioxidants, bovine colostrum, and gets a high quality dehydrated raw kibble. She does take tramadol in the evening for her arthritis, I know that can mess with the respiratory system, but the coughing began way before she started that. it does sound much like the coughing my dog that had CHF had.

Islandgirl­70321288370754.64312846 PostsRegistered 6/7/2007Savannah, GA
On 10/29/2010 cjdw said:
On 10/29/2010 Islandgirl7032 said:

My sheltie who passed away in Aprl had a cough just like that and it was from an enlarged heart.

Maybe you should see a different vet for a chest x-ray.

ETA: Once he was put on BP meds, his cough went away.

Good luck to your sweet baby{#emotions_dlg.wub}

Last edited on 10/29/2010
My 12 yr old chihuahua was recently diagnosed with an enlarged heart too. Hacking after drinking water, and sometimes for no apparent reason. Is improved with meds, but there is no cure for this condition. Sadly, our wonderful animal friends leave us all to soon. {#emotions_dlg.sad}

Unfortunately, you're so right, cjdw{#emotions_dlg.crying}




Islandgirl­70321288371045.87312846 PostsRegistered 6/7/2007Savannah, GA
On 10/29/2010 dreamytoo said:

Thanks all,

She was due for a hw test last month... but has had two since the coughing began, both were negative. She is also on year round treatment, but during the cold winter months we do a 40 day schedule. If it was pneumonia, I don't think she would last three years with it.

I think because of her advanced age, the Vets do not want to do anything invasive on her...she is a big girl and turned 13 in September, she has been through a lot of surgeries, and last time we were told to love her and keep her comfortable as best we could. She is on antioxidants, bovine colostrum, and gets a high quality dehydrated raw kibble. She does take tramadol in the evening for her arthritis, I know that can mess with the respiratory system, but the coughing began way before she started that. it does sound much like the coughing my dog that had CHF had.

I'm glad her tests were negative but just so you know, my sheltie Harley got heartworms even with year-round heartworm meds.

The manufacturer of the meds even paid for his treatment, but the heart damage was already done{#emotions_dlg.crying}




Scooby Doo1288375691.6231112 PostsRegistered 10/17/2006Western U.S.

My 15 yr old shih tzu coughs also. It's because he has an enlarged heart and because he has a collapsing trachea.

Gabby11288376142.75227 PostsRegistered 10/6/2004Sun City, AZ

Where do you live? If it's in Arizona, it could be Valley Fever. My little Katy Rose is suspected of having valley fever but the pneumonia is masking it so far. The antibiotics seem to knock out the cough from the pneumonia but it keeps coming back. We're on our third course and if this doesn't work, we'll retest for valley fever. The first test came back negative.

"All we are is dust in the wind".

walker1288376197.1233673 PostsRegistered 5/6/2005

Thanks for posting this concern about your lab. I have an 11 yr. old lab who has been doing the same thing recently. It is like they want to cough up a hairball. I know it is not kennel cough as I've already gone through that several years ago. With kennel cough they hack, hack and throw up. It is horrible!!!! This is not the same. My dog coughs and then that is it for awhile. I find it interesting that many say it is related to heart problems. I would not be surprised at this age. I will check with the vet when I take him in November.

GoodStuff1288376282.9414302 PostsRegistered 11/11/2008

A friend's old dog coughs frequently, and has been diagnosed with a collapsing trachea.

reese21288376375.5635800 PostsRegistered 8/11/2006North of South..we've moved
On 10/29/2010 Islandgirl7032 said:

I'm glad her tests were negative but just so you know, my sheltie Harley got heartworms even with year-round heartworm meds.

The manufacturer of the meds even paid for his treatment, but the heart damage was already done{#emotions_dlg.crying}

Wow, that really scares me, IG. Both of our guys are on the year-round protection, but since we are frequently in the deep south, I know it's no guarantee. {#emotions_dlg.sad}

Laugh when you can, apologize when you should, and let go of what you can't change.


Formerly Luvs2Shop

nanajanice1288377208.9663 PostsRegistered 10/29/2010

Long time lurker, but had to reply. Our 11 yr old min schnauzer has had heart murmur for years, and when he started coughing our vet prescribed meds, after ten days of no change sent us to a cardiologist for a ultrasound, and he discovered a tumor in his right lung. We took Bailey to a state animal teaching hospital and they removed the tumor (cancer) and part of his lung, but discovered that it had spread to the lymph nodes. Bailey just had his first chemo treatment last Tuesday, and if all goes well he will continue treatment for 15 weeks. Don't mean to scare you, but sometimes the cough means more than heart problems. Suggest you explore other options, sooner rather than later.

SophiaMarie1288457669.3836732 PostsRegistered 3/17/2010

Your 13 y/o Lab is having reverse sneezing episodes. You are lucky that she is still with you because as you know, larger dogs don't live as long as small dogs.

Please, do your doggie and yourself a favor and don't take her to a Vet. where they will do everything they can to part you with your money and then tell you there's nothing they can do.

Please don't put your doggie through any medical testing. Keep her with you for as long as you can and let her live out her life w/o having to go through all that useless medical testing......

I have a 17 y/o Bichon who is going through these sneezing episodes several times a day. I know that's what they are because we did some research and she's an indoor dog and doesn't have any contact with any other animals. We massage the underside of her throat vigorously and she stops. I'm not taking her to any doctors. As soon as we get in there, she starts to shake and that's just for her yearly shots. I wouldn't put her through anything at this point in her life. I am very upset when I read how many times people drag their pets to the Vets, just because they had nothing else to do that day. I don't even bring her there to get groomed because they keep her all day long and it upsets her. I now have a groomer come to the house with a fully equipped van, and in less than an hour, we have her back inside.....

ETA - we were told she had a heart murmur when she was one year old. She is still here at 17 without any cardiac treatment or medications. There are honest Vets around who will not take your money when there is no reason.

Last edited on 10/30/2010

Last edited on 10/30/2010

Bird mama1288458117.8539200 PostsRegistered 3/24/2009Michigan

I don't want to scare you ~ my first dog had mitral valve regurgitation (murmur) and coughed. Mind you he was diagnosed at age 8 and through proper diet and medication lived to be 15 1/2 years old. He eventually developed CHF - I could tell when the cough became more moist. Periodically I would get him a chest x-ray so we could keep an eye on any enlargement.

~ bird ~

dreamytoo1288459322.3531909 PostsRegistered 11/21/2007

Thanks again all...

It is not reverse sneezing, I am all too familiar with that I see lots of it in my 3 dogs LOL. I am going to start her back on an 81 mg aspirin tablet a day. She was on aspirin therapy before her surgery last spring - we then had to stop because of risk of bleeding and she was put on tramadol. I am sure it is her old heart, and the murmur. I only give her tramadol at night, so I will give her the aspirin in the am. She will be fine for me...she always is, she has to be...she has had this for 3 years, it has never worsened - I just get more nervous the older she gets.

I am very blessed to have had her for over 13 years, she is a large lab, life expectancy is 10-12 years max. I will keep loving her, feeding her, giving her supplements, and keep her close to me. She is my rock....stays strong for mommy through all adversity, and always knows when I need her gentle head resting in my lap.

SophiaMarie1288459993.116732 PostsRegistered 3/17/2010
On 10/30/2010 dreamytoo said:

Thanks again all...

It is not reverse sneezing, I am all too familiar with that I see lots of it in my 3 dogs LOL. I am going to start her back on an 81 mg aspirin tablet a day. She was on aspirin therapy before her surgery last spring - we then had to stop because of risk of bleeding and she was put on tramadol. I am sure it is her old heart, and the murmur. I only give her tramadol at night, so I will give her the aspirin in the am. She will be fine for me...she always is, she has to be...she has had this for 3 years, it has never worsened - I just get more nervous the older she gets.

I am very blessed to have had her for over 13 years, she is a large lab, life expectancy is 10-12 years max. I will keep loving her, feeding her, giving her supplements, and keep her close to me. She is my rock....stays strong for mommy through all adversity, and always knows when I need her gentle head resting in my lap.

{#emotions_dlg.thumbup} BTW - I just went to "youtube" and typed in "reverse sneezing in dogs" and there are all sizes of dogs, doing all kinds of different things. I did find one that looked and sounded like my doggie, and there are some large dogs doing it too.... I'm glad you are keeping her with you. We are both lucky to have these dogs who have lived so long. Maybe because we are good mommies????

realsilver­girl1288482635.8871979 PostsRegistered 12/12/2009

see another vet. My dogs lungs were clear too at first with the cough. We first tried antibiotics. Then as the days went on he was panting, and his gums were bluish. I knew as a nurse he was heading into respiratory failure. Usually the cough starts after a burst of eneryg-or after simply drinking water. So initially his xrays were clear but he had CHF still. He lasted 2.5 years on meds. GET VETMEDIN!!! if it is diagnosed. It is shown to slow down the effects of CHF. My Donald put up the good fight, but his last week he was up to 200mg of lasix daily. Poor baby. It happened so quick. Fine before nap, after-nothing interested him. But he was so happy those 2.5 years. DON'T give up. It could be kennel cough, but if they could start him on some lasix and if the cough improves in a few days---it could be CHF like you thought. GOOD LUCK!

If you twist and turn away.
It you tear yourself in two again.
If I could, yes I would
If I could, I would let it go.
Surrender, dislocate.
Bad U2

Macamania1288483002.3332798 PostsRegistered 9/22/2008
Make sure they take x-rays of the lungs!!!

realsilver­girl1288483131.8471979 PostsRegistered 12/12/2009
On 10/29/2010 nanajanice said:

Long time lurker, but had to reply. Our 11 yr old min schnauzer has had heart murmur for years, and when he started coughing our vet prescribed meds, after ten days of no change sent us to a cardiologist for a ultrasound, and he discovered a tumor in his right lung. We took Bailey to a state animal teaching hospital and they removed the tumor (cancer) and part of his lung, but discovered that it had spread to the lymph nodes. Bailey just had his first chemo treatment last Tuesday, and if all goes well he will continue treatment for 15 weeks. Don't mean to scare you, but sometimes the cough means more than heart problems. Suggest you explore other options, sooner rather than later.

oh lord good luck! Prayers out to you. My Donald had a slipped disc and became paralyzed for a while till we took him somewhere else for surgery. People thought I was crazy - but it worked and he lived 9 years longer. So worth it. He was such a fighter.

If you twist and turn away.
It you tear yourself in two again.
If I could, yes I would
If I could, I would let it go.
Surrender, dislocate.
Bad U2

MarigoldSq­uirt1288586148.47310 PostsRegistered 8/6/2007
On 10/29/2010 Scooby Doo said:

My 15 yr old shih tzu coughs also. It's because he has an enlarged heart and because he has a collapsing trachea.

My 11 yr old chinese crested, Squirt, started doing the same thing. He had the same diagnosis - enlarged heart and collapsing trachea. He also has spinal problems that cause him a lot of serious problems. The vet put him on 2 heart medications plus other medicines for his spine. He is doing better now but tonight he started coughing and breathing harder. Looks like I will need to start his diuretics to clear his lungs. I will be praying for your fur baby as I know how hard this is on "Mom".

colson1288586405.27436 PostsRegistered 10/23/2007East Coast

My dog has a heart murmer which increased as he got older, and he coughed a lot, too. I can see where you might think it is kennel cough, but if your doc checked it out, it is likely affiliated with the heart murmer, especially if older. Dont' give him bread or honey or human food, just make sure he has plenty of fresh water around instead. You don't want him putting on extra weight with a heart murmer.

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