What's making my dog cough?
(Q) I have a three-year-old Border Collie. She started randomly coughing every now and again and it was similar to a choking motion. We thought she had kennel cough so we took her to the vet. The vet ruled out kennel cough and told us to see if it cleared. It didn't so we took her back and she was given antibiotics and steroids. It still didn't clear up so we recently had a chest X-ray and a check of her throat and nothing came back. We've also had a treatment for lungworm.
She still coughs intermittently. The vet said the next step is to take her for heart tests. What could be wrong with her heart? She is an extremely fit and otherwise healthy dog who gets exercised regularly and is generally very active.
(A) Vet Roberta Baxter says: Most diseases involving coughing probably relate either to respiratory disease (such as kennel cough, or disease of the airways and lungs) or heart disease (which can cause fluid retention in the lungs).
Treatment may be given for infection, and for allergic respiratory disease in some cases, or further investigation may be needed to confirm the source of the problem. X-rays can be helpful to check out both the respiratory and cardiac (heart) systems. However, cardiac ultrasound (echocardiography) can give a more detailed analysis of heart function, and endoscopy of the respiratory system can also be helpful. Such tests might necessitate referral to a specialist centre.
It would be unusual for such a young and active dog to have a heart problem, but it is worth checking things out further to get to the root of this problem.