Ask the Veterinarian/dog cough
My 7 year old Australian Shepherd has developed a sort of spasmic, hoarse cough followed by gagging but no vomit. It is infrequent, only a few times a day for the past couple of days. She is otherwise acting completely fine--good appetite, active, no diarrhea or vomiting, etc.. She has not been boarded or with other dogs (aside from my other two dogs) and is up to date on bordatella, so I don't think it's kennel cough. I am thinking it may be seasonal allergies (starting to get some pollen here in CT) or possibly some sort of tracheal collapse. I have been giving her Benadryl (she is about 55 lbs. so she's getting 50 mg. every 8 hours) but I'm not sure if it's helping. I'm concerned it could be her trachea because she spends a lot of time outside on a cable and has a bad habit of running too fast and yanking and choking herself on it. I have noticed that if I rub her chest, just below her neck, it consistently triggers a coughing episode. My last thought was heartworm. She is on HW prevention (Iverheart Plus) in the warm weather, but has not had it since last October. I was going to start her on it again now that it's getting warmer, but am reluctant to give it to her now on the off-chance she might be positive. I don't really think it's likely given the extremely cold weather we've had for the past five months and that she was on meds throughout last summer, but I suppose it's possible. So my question is, does the fact that she coughs every time I rub her chest indicate a tracheal problem? And if so, is it something to see the vet about, or will it resolve on its own? Thank you so much for your time.
My guess is that most likely she does have "kennel cough". the vaccines really are not that good, and you can bring the organisms home on your clothes. Good for you to not give heartworm preventative. I seriously doubt that your dog has heartworms. It does take 4-6 for the larvae to migrate to the heart and become adults that could possibly cause coughing. She has been coughing too short a time to think it is heartworm, so I think a very small chance. I would go ahead and start the prevention, if you really think that is necessary (read my article on my site - www.myhealthyanimals.com) wait until there have been 2 weeks where the temperature is consistently over 65 degrees. I would not do Benadryl as that can have side effects.
Personally I think having a big dog who pulls on a cable is potentially very very harmful. We now know that dogs walked using a collar rather than a harness can have itchy paws, itchy ears and face, low thyroid and severe damage to the cervical vertebrae and my guess is that a dog with the bad habit of yanking and choking could cause inflammation of the trachea or even more damage.
When a cough starts after rubbing the chest or throat it is called an "inducible cough" and indicates merely that there is enough inflammation in the trachea to trigger the cough.
I think you can safely wait a week before having her checked by a veterinarian. I strongly recommend finding an integrative veterinarian with whom to work. This is a person trained in many different approaches, including using conventional drugs only when absolutely needed. Working with one can increase the chance that your cherished companion can live a long and healthy life after recovering from this current problem. There are good ones and great ones, and a few homeopathic veterinarians will consult by phone or email. You can go to the web sites for each type of holistic practice and use their referral list to find one near to you. Many practitioners are members of only one or two of the organizations, so you do need to go to every site to find who is near you: (there are many great ones in connecticut).
1. Wide range of other treatments: www.AHVMA.org, American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association and www.civtedu.org.
2. Homeopathic veterinarians (these can often help you by phone if no other holistic practitioners are nearby that you like): www.theAVH.org and www.DrPitcairn.com.
3. Chiropractic and Osteopathic - www.animalchiropractic.org; http://equineosteopathy.org/
(they treat dogs, too)
4. TCVM (Acupuncture and Chinese medicine): www.IVAS.org, www.aava.org & www.TCVM.com
5. Herbal - www.VBMA.org