Dogs cough for as many reasons as people. Sometimes they breathe in too much dust or smoke. Sometimes they need to dislodge something in their throats. But when a dog's cough becomes persistent, it could be a sign of kennel cough or perhaps a more serious infection. Veterinary attention is recommended, but there are some remedies you can try to help suppress your dog's cough.
Kennel cough, or tracheobronchitis, is the most common reason dogs develop a nagging cough. Kennel cough is a bacterial infection that occurs when a dog is around many other dogs. The condition usually shows up about two weeks after exposure and the symptoms can range from a mild, infrequent cough to a cough accompanied by flu-like symptoms. Most cases heal themselves, but if it lasts more than 10 days, kennel cough could lead to a more serious condition, such as pneumonia.
Human Cough Medicines
Vets often treat minor cases of kennel cough with nonprescription cough remedies such as Robitussin (dextromethorphan). Dextromethorphan is only recommended for dry, hacking coughs, however. Wet-sounding coughs, or coughs that produce phlegm should not be treated with dextromethorphan, and the medicine should only be administered when a veterinarian prescribes it. Other human-grade commercial cough products should not be used, as many contain aspirin, alcohol, acetaminophen or caffeine, all of which can be fatal for dogs.
Herbal remedies can treat infrequent or light coughing in dogs. Some herbs, such as plantago lanceolata, help expel mucus in order to clear the throat. Other herbs, such as Bryonia C6 -- which often is administered to treat help canine distemper -- can help expel mucus and is often given to treat dry mucus membranes.
Prevention Is the Best Cure
The best defense against kennel cough is for your dog to have a healthy immune system before she comes in contact with other dogs. The best way to achieve that is to make sure she gets plenty of exercise and a balanced diet. Some herbs, such as ground echinacea, can help boost immune and respiratory health too. As an added boost, try homeopathic elixirs. The Dog-Health Guide recommends KC-Defense™, which helps relieve dry, hacking coughs and boosts respiratory and immune systems in dogs.
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