What Makes a Dog Cough a Lot in the Morning?

A sick dog can have a morning cough.
i dog image by Michal Tudek from Fotolia.com

Coughing is one of your dog's respiratory defense mechanisms that helps fight infections by removing foreign substances from the airway. The cough can keep your dog from getting sick, but it can also be a symptom of disease. Determine the cause of your dog's morning cough so you can treat it.

Infectious Tracheobronchitis

Infectious tracheobronchitis, also known as kennel cough, can be caused by a bacterial or viral infection. The cough is most noticeable after your dog is kenneled or hospitalized, according to the Acapulco Animal Cardiopulmonary Consultancy. Cool morning air can worsen the coughing episodes your dog experiences, according to Chestnut Veterinary Clinic. After your dog comes in contact with an infected animal, your dog develops a productive cough, loss of appetite, tiredness, fever and possible nasal discharge. Your dog's immune system usually fights the infection without treatment in seven to 10 days. If the cough is interrupting your dog's ability to rest, you can administer a cough suppressant, according to Washington State University. Keep your dog isolated from other animals while the illness runs its course. If a bacterial culture is positive, your vet will prescribe antibiotics -- make sure your dog finishes the full prescription.


Canine pneumonia is usually caused by bacteria resulting in inflammation of the lungs or lower respiratory tract. Pneumonia can be the primary cause of your dog's morning cough, or it can be a secondary infection from a virus or other airborne irritant, according to VCA Animal Hospitals. Mucus secretions pool in the bronchioli while your dog is sleeping, so a productive morning cough helps your dog remove these secretions. In addition to coughing, your dog may display loud breathing, weight loss, loss of appetite, dehydration, fever, tiredness and nasal discharge. A blood test, chest X-ray and cytology via bronchoscopy are most commonly used to diagnose canine pneumonia, according to VCA Animal Hospitals. Your dog may be started on a broad-spectrum antibiotic until the type of bacteria causing the pneumonia is determined, then your dog is switched to an antibiotic specific to that bacteria. It's important to loosen secretions with short walks, fluid and a humidifier, so your dog can productively cough up excess mucus.

Chronic Bronchitis

If your dog has a productive cough of at least two months in the last two years, chronic bronchitis is often the diagnosis. Chronic bronchitis is a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and it most commonly affects middle-age and older small breed dogs, according to Acapulco Animal Cardiopulmonary Consultancy. Like pneumonia, mucus is secreted in excess amounts which leads to pooling in the bronchioli while your dog is sleeping. Coughing upon waking helps remove these secretions. Coughing is also worse when your dog is physically active. Kennel cough can result in chronic bronchitis, as well as asthma and allergies. To diagnose chronic bronchitis, a bronchoscopy is done to view the bronchi in combination with listening to the lungs and details of the dog's symptoms. Obese dogs and terriers are most prone to chronic bronchitis, according to Acapulco Animal Cardiopulmonary Consultancy.


Always consult an experienced veterinarian regarding the health and treatment of your pet. A thorough physical examination by your dog's veterinary is important to rule out serious causes of your dog's morning cough. Consider the environment your dog sleeps in since a dog's morning cough could be caused by respiratory irritation from dust, pollen, tobacco smoke or other allergens. There could also be a more serious cause, such as heart disease or lung cancer. Heart disease can result in coughing due to pressure on the airway by the enlarged heart, according to Washington State University. Obese dogs have an increased risk of heart disease. Lung cancer can also result in coughing due to respiratory irritation.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

the nest