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The Best Cough Medicine for Your Dog [2022 Annual Vet Reviews]

Score for Seniors:
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Weight: Pounds

several supplements including bone-shaped items

In this article, we review medicine options and home remedies to help your dog with his cough. Of course, you should consult with your veterinarian because coughing can be a symptom of several serious medical conditions.

This is particularly true if your dog presents other symptoms. For example, loss of appetite or fever are signs of underlying causes that need a vet’s intervention. Always consult with your veterinarian before giving new medicine to your dog.

If your dog is coughing but appears to feel well overall, you can consider the following coughing medicines. This can make your dog more comfortable and can help avoid irritation of the respiratory tract, which can happen with repeated coughing.

Cough Medicine for Your Dog

1. Natural Remedies

Natural remedies can provide temporary relief for your dog while you try to figure out the underlying cause with the help of your veterinarian. These remedies have proven to be effective with some dogs. But don’t delay contacting your vet even if the coughing is suppressed. Coughing in dogs can be a symptom of a more serious disease. These natural remedies can give your dog relief until you get veterinary help.

A Teaspoon of Honey – People also often reach for honey when they have a cough. A teaspoon of honey in a cup of warm water may ease a sore throat. This is not recommended for puppies or for dogs with diabetes as it can interfere with glucose regulation.

See these example comments from customers with a coughing dog:

Chicken Soup – While there are many jokes about “Grandma’s chicken soup,” chicken soup can help hydrate your dog. Don’t use commercial soups. They are processed and often have high levels of sodium which are especially bad if your dog has a heart condition.

Instead, make your own by putting a whole chicken or pieces of chicken in your slow cooker. No spices. Let that cook all day in some water. Shred the meat. A bowl of that, served warm to increase enticing odors, offered separately or poured over some food, is a big hit with the canine crew.

Cough Syrup or Supplements – PawHealer has a range of natural herbal cough medicines formulated for dogs, and for different types of coughs.

There are many natural cough remedies on the market, and while they may soothe a tickle in the throat, it’s important to determine the underlying cause of the cough with the help of your veterinarian. Your vet will be able to advise you on the best course of treatment for your pet, and whether any natural remedies will also be beneficial.

PawHealer syrup for Kennel Cough:

WATCH: 3 Important Tips To Care For an Old Dog [VET VIDEO]

For collapsed trachea & more:

For gag/hack/wheeze:

Salutem Pets dog coughing supplements:

Dog Cough - Kennel Cough - Dog Allergy Relief...
  • ✅ GREAT FOR CATS AND DOGS - Suitable for all pets of all ages & sizes, with breathing problems, respiratory system disorders. Help your pet with kennel cough by just adding a few drops to a bowl.

2. Over The Counter Medicine: Dextromethorphan (ex, Robitussin, etc.)

Dextromethorphan is a common ingredient in human OTC cough medications such as Robitussin, Delsym or Balminil. It can be helpful for some dogs short term. This is an “off label” medication so you should check with your veterinarian about use in your individual dog.

It is not recommended for dogs with liver problems or for dogs on a number of medications, including tramadol, amitraz containing collars, or selegiline.

Robitussin Long-Acting CoughGels, Cough...
  • One bottle of 20 liqui-gels of Robitussin Long-Acting CoughGels, Cough Medicine for Adults

Are There any Potential Side Effects or Risks with Dextromethorphan?

You should never give your dog any medication, including dextromethorphan, without the consent of your veterinarian.

Dextromethorphan has limited effectiveness in dogs, as it is poorly absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract. It also may cause side effects such as vomiting, diarrhea, and neurologic issues. This medication may also interfere with other medications that your dog takes. Cough is not a labeled indication for dextromethorphan in dogs.

3. Other Cough Medicine – Prescription Only

The most important thing to do when your dog is coughing is to determine the underlying cause. Dogs may cough for a variety of reasons, including viral, bacterial, and fungal infections, parasites, asthma, cancer, and heart failure. Treating your dog at home for the cough without getting a diagnosis will delay proper treatment and may make the underlying condition worse.

Suppressing a dog’s cough with medications can force infectious agents to stay in the lungs instead of being coughed up. Your dog could become much sicker.

Disclaimer: This website's content is not meant to be a substitute for veterinary care. Always consult with your local veterinarian for health decisions. Learn more.

Treatment by your vet will vary with findings and may also include the following:

  • Antibiotics may be needed to combat infection. There are many antibiotics used to treat respiratory infections in dogs. The proper antibiotic will be chosen by your veterinarian depending on the dog’s diagnosis. Antibiotics are generally safe for most dogs, but should never be given without a veterinarian’s prescription as some have side effects that can be serious. Antibiotic resistance is also an issue that can affect the dog being treated as well as other animals and humans living in the household. Amoxicillin is a commonly prescribed antibiotic.
  • A cough suppressant may be needed to give your dog and his respiratory tract a break from the coughing. Easing the cough may help your dog eat, drink, and rest easier, which promotes healing. The cause of the cough determines what sort of medication your vet will suggest. Common examples include maropitant (Cerenia®) and Hycodan®. These medications may cause your pet to be more tired than usual.

Interventions for more extreme cases:

· Your dog may need to be hospitalized and placed in an oxygen cage.

· Though it’s not very common, bronchodilators may be prescribed to open up his airways for better air flow.

What to Expect from Your Vet

If your dog has a serious cough, your veterinarian will do a number of procedures. The first step is a complete physical examination. Depending on the clinical signs, this may include:

  • A thorough auscultation – listening to all areas of his chest with a stethoscope.
  • Radiographs (x-rays) so the lungs can be carefully evaluated.
  • Bloodwork to rule-out situations like heartworm, anemia, and bacterial or viral infections.
  • A culture and sensitivity test to determine the best antibiotic to use for a bacterial infection.

When Cough Medicine is NOT Enough

old dog coughing hard

The causes of a cough in a dog are varied and dogs cannot talk to us and tell us how they are feeling. Delaying a veterinary visit could endanger your dog if he has a serious underlying cause for the cough.

At a minimum, you need a phone call into your veterinarian if your dog is coughing. These symptoms should incite a visit to the office:

  • Open mouth breathing along with a cough
  • Pale or bluish mucous membranes (look at his gum color)
  • History of a heart condition, including a previous heartworm infection
  • History of cancer
  • Difficulty breathing – including labored breathing and very rapid respiratory rate
  • Fever
  • Pus type discharge from his nose
  • “Feeling sick” – lethargic, not wanting to eat or play
  • Collapse

Other Coughing Remedies to Try at Home

  1. Start with Simple Home Care

Start with some basic supportive care. If your dog has discharge from his eyes or his nose, use a warm compress to soften the crusts and clean gently. A dab of vitamin E (puncture a capsule with a pin and squeeze out a drop) can help with a sore nose.

Artificial tears drops or ointment can be safely applied to his eyes.

If anyone in the family smokes, this is the ideal time to reinforce a “no smoking in the house” rule. If your area is under any polluted air warnings (manmade pollution or from wildfires) minimize the time your dog is outdoors. Ideally, put HEPA filters in the main rooms he hangs out in.

2. Use a Humidifier or Steam

Excessively dry air can cause coughing in dogs. If you have a humidifier, encourage your dog to rest in that area. Be sure your humidifier is clean and not moldy.

A winter cough may be caused by something as simple as dry air. Try using a humidifier to see if it helps.

Dr. Debra Eldredge, Veterinarian
Author of the “Dog Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook

No humidifier? When you go to shower, have your dog come into the bathroom. The warm, moist air can help just like a humidifier.

If you have a small portable humidifier, you can set it up next to your dog’s crate. Then cover the crate with a sheet to keep moisture in. Plain water is best.

3. Consider Limiting Physical Activity in Cold Weather

Very cold, dry air outside can stimulate coughing as well as dry air inside. Senior dogs don’t handle extreme cold well. Keep walks short and limited. Many senior dogs appreciate pee pads (like for a puppy) or a litter box indoors. This is not the time to start an exercise program for your dog. In most cases, exercise will cause more coughing.

Encourage quiet activity like chew toys and food puzzles with low calorie choices. Scentwork is a fun activity in the house.

Learn more tips by reading our article on “Best Home Remedies to Help a Coughing Dog“.

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  • Dr. Winnie earned a Master in Biology from St Georges University, and graduated from the University of Pretoria's Veterinary School. She is a full-time Veterinarian specializing in internal medicine for companion animals.

Disclaimer: This website's content is not meant to be a substitute for veterinary care, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult with your veterinarian to determine the best course of action. Read More.

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