Coughing dog

We were at the vets yesterday because our Abroozi has a cough. Sounds pretty minor, a cough. Not so in dogs. Dogs are not supposed to cough. When dogs cough it sounds like they are hacking out their lungs and entire respiratory tract. Dogs only cough if it’s a viral infection, an irritation brought on by something ingested or breathed in, pneumonia or a heart condition. Since it started all of a sudden 2 afternoons ago and he was up all night coughing, hacking, retching, choking and wheezing we were quite perplexed and distressed and needed to know what was happening with our little boy.

The day before yesterday, around 2pm, Abroozi heard dogs barking outside and jumped up to go investigate. As he did he barked and instead of continuing to bark, he choked and coughed. He’s been coughing ever since. This is what it sounds like:

We were trying to figure out what had caused the cough, so we turned to the internet. It could be that he had breathed in something. Dogs who run through tall grass or have inhaled grass seeds or weeds can develop an irritation in the trachea as they try to expel whatever they have inhaled. If the seeds are lodged deep in the smaller airwaves and cause a block, it can get infected and lead to pneumonia. While he’s not been running through tall grass, he has inhaled a lot of cotton. Here’s how: I opened up a big floor cushion that we have to find that all the stuffing had come out. Very fine soft cotton flew up in to the air and since the fan was on, it spread everywhere, with cotton fibres snowing all around us. Abroozi was in the room and admittedly, I didn’t get him out of the room as quickly as I could have as I was trying to stuff the cotton back in the cushion. So perhaps he could have inhaled too much?

We were up all of that night as he was retching and coughing almost every 10 to 20 minutes for about 30 seconds to a minute. It is a very distressing thing to watch not only because he looks so physically uncomfortable but also because we have never experienced what he is going through and we don’t know the level of severity. Think of the pain you feel with the worst sore throat/laringytis you’ve ever had and the dry feeling of your throat being ripped apart every time you expel phelgm. Then triple the level of exertion it takes to do all that.

The next day when we took him out for his morning walk, he was fine. We had read that exercise and excitement worsens the coughing but we had to take him out for his “jobs”. Surprisingly, he was absolutely fine on the walk and for 90 minutes after that he didn’t cough at all. This was contrary to everything we had learned. Maybe, it was something inside the house causing the problem? We looked around for what new things we had introduced in to the house in the last few days. I had started putting on the plug-in mosquito repellant which could be a culprit as aerosols and perfumes have been know to cause dogs allergies. Then the DH noticed the bunch of roses he had surprised me with the other day (spontaneously, no reason) which had asparagus fern as a filler between the roses. An internet search showed that dogs are highly allergic to asparagus fern especially when the pine like leaves start to shed… Bouquet was immediately sent to the compost bin and out of the house.

Asparagus Fern

But Abroozi kept coughing. And the more videos I looked at on YouTube of other dogs coughing – all the coughs were sounding the same and he was sounding very much like kennel cough which is a viral infection spread between dogs who are boarded together. While he’s not been in close proximity with another dog, there are a couple of stray dogs who have taken to consider him their leader and faithfully follow him around and greet him in the morning when he goes for his walk. So I thought they could be carries as they do try to lick him and rub up against him.

You see all sorts of dogs at the vets office. Last night it was a pomeranian with his broken front leg in a cast, a furry white puppy getting his vaccinations, another dog sedated with an IV pumping fluids in to him and a very old doddering cockerspaniel/golden retriever who had very stiff hips. We were worried that Abroozi wouldn’t cough at the vets office, so we recorded him coughing on the Samsung Ace (no Galaxy for us) so that we could show it to the vet. But Abroozi gave a star performance and the vet listened to his heart, lungs and chest. He concluded that since Abroozi was not expelling any phelgm, blood, spit or mucus, was very alert, eyes looked good, nose and mouth were moist, gums were normal and not receding, energy was up, coat was shiny and appetite was good, that it wasn’t anything serious. And on hearing his lungs and pinching the trachea to stimulate coughing (which not not occur) he concluded that it was not respiratory related.

Final diagnosis was that the epithelial layer of the esophagus had become inflamed due to some irritant (the fern, the cotton). Abroozi was given two anti-inflamatory injections and a supplementary Melonex Oral suspension 2ml a day for 5 days squirted in to the mouth (an anti-inflammatory, non-steroid). Additional assortment of vitamins (A, D, E,H) and antioxidants in an oral suspension of 2ml per day was also prescribed called INTAVITA. He should recover in 5 days. If he doesn’t then chest X-rays and a saline wash (under sedation) are the options but the vet did not think that was going to be necessary.

On the car ride home, with Abroozi looking quite pleased with himself as he had got a lot of petting from us (while his “oosees” were being administered) we pondered on what we had learned. Internet research and using your own powers of deduction and observation are important as it gives the vet a full picture of the scenario. It doesn’t give you all the answers though. But the vet with all his experience and medical knowledge is a must to turn to.

Abroozi had a peaceful sleep and had just two coughing episodes last night. This morning he’s had only two bouts of coughing and he is exerting himself a lot less. The coughing has become less hacking and a bit more airy. We’ll know more in 5 days…

About nonsense girl

Galley slave, qualitative researcher working in development, married my best friend, writing about my life, my family, my dog, TV, Indian culture, astronomy and my garden.
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5 Responses to Coughing dog

  1. Pingback: Watch your Ps and Poos « nonsense girl

  2. Alka Ganesh says:

    All praise for the vet! I wish we doctors who treat humans were as “smart” diagnosticians as your vet. Admittedly, there are many good docs, but so manydoctors always need confirmation of a diagnosis, thus ordering tests, reluctant to give a medicine and see the effect. Ofcourse,, unlike the human patient, the dog is unlikely to take the doc to the courts for a missed diagnosis,( but their owners could be litiginous). I am so happy that the awful hacking cough is better!

    • gkorula says:

      Very true! And i’m sure there are dog owners out there willing to sue a vet or two. He’s doing much much better, even barked at a few children who came to the door today.

  3. ashreyamom says:

    oh poor abroozi.. take care of him.. 😦

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