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My Dog is Coughing Up a Storm

September 15, 2014

Your golden retriever Murray has been coughing like crazy. Murray’s usually a good-humored guy who doesn’t let anything bother him, but right now he seems absolutely miserable. One moment, Murray’s quietly lying on the floor; and then without warning, he erupts into a series of hacking coughs that sound like he’s trying to expel a hairball. You know that coughing helps to clear Murray’s respiratory tract of unwelcome secretions or foreign objects. However, Murray’s incessant coughing can also mean he’s battling a nasty respiratory problem. You’d like your Ashburn veterinarian to get to the bottom of Murray’s cough so your poor pooch can get some relief.

All Coughs Are Not Alike

Murray’s coughing episodes can take on a life of their own. At any given moment, you might hear (and see) Murray emit a raspy or wheezy cough; or he might stand on the floor and violently heave and vomit, like he’s coughing up an especially unpleasant meal. If his episode lasts long enough, you could also see Murray cough up some blood or even collapse from exhaustion.

What’s Behind the Coughing Fits

Coughing problems can indicate a whole host of respiratory tract ailments. Murray might have accidentally inhaled a foreign object, and his body is trying to expel it. Murray might be suffering from a bacterial, viral, or parasitic infection; or he might have suddenly developed an allergy or cardiac condition. Finally, if Murray has thrown up recently, he could have contracted aspiration pneumonia when food particles accidentally entered his respiratory tract.

Solving the Coughing Mystery

Good thing you can help your vet solve Murray’s great coughing mystery. Take detailed notes about Murray’s overall health, his recent exploits, and events surrounding his first coughing fits. Tell your vet what Murray’s cough sounds like, and whether he coughs up secretions or just emits dry, hacking sounds.

Next, your vet will give Murray a good physical exam and will obtain blood and urine samples. A Complete Blood Count test can suggest an allergy or infection; while a Blood Biochemistry Test can indicate abnormalities linked to the cough’s origin. In some cases, your vet might also perform a blood clotting test, X-rays, or MRI’s. If he suspects a respiratory parasite or heartworm disease, he’ll also order tests that confirm those conditions.

Once your Ashburn vet diagnoses Murray’s coughing problem, he’ll treat the underlying cause while also addressing the symptoms. Remember, if the vet prescribes antibiotics for an infection, make sure Murray finishes the entire course of medication, even if he seems much better. After all, you want your good buddy Murray to make a full recovery so he can resume his energetic lifestyle and busy social life.