Is your dog’s coughing keeping you up at night?
There are many possible causes of coughing in dogs, some of which are serious. If your dog has developed a cough that does not seem to go away, be sure to take him to the vet for a check-up.
Do not try to treat your dog if he has a bad cough, or if his cough doesn’t seem to be going away. Remember that you should only try to use home treatment for minor coughs that last for short periods of time.
Guess what? This page looks at some cough medicine for dogs that can be used to help treat minor coughs of brief duration!
OTC Cough Medicine for Dogs
Some OTC cough medicine for children can be used to help treat minor coughing in dogs. For example:
Expectorants do not suppress the cough reflex, but they help to liquefy mucus secretions so that they can be coughed up more easily. Expectorants are good for productive coughs (phegmy coughs).
Cough medicine that contains an expectorant called guaifenesin is available over the counter (e.g. Children’s Robitussin). It is safe for use on dogs for all coughs.
Recommended dosage is one teaspoon per 20 pounds of body weight every 4 hours.
OTC Cough Suppressants
Suppressants actually suppress the cough reflex. Cough medicines that contain the cough suppressant dextromethorphan such as Robitussin-DM and Benylin Expectorant are available over the counter.
It is usually used to suppress dry coughs such as kennel cough, and shouldn’t be used for productive coughs. It is also ineffective if the cough is caused by heart disease.
Dextromethorphan may cause side effects in some dogs. The most common side effects include drowsiness and upset stomach. More serious but rare side effects may include excitability, nervousness, anxiety, seizures, weakness, and irregular heartbeat. Stop using the cough medicine immediately if your dog start showing some of these more severe side effects.
Recommended dosage is one teaspoon per 20 pounds of body weight every 6 hours.
Prescription Cough Suppressants
If your dog needs stronger cough suppressants, your vet may prescribe medications containing hydrocodone bitartrate (Hycodan) and butorphanol tartrate (Torbutrol, Torbugesic). These should of course be used with care and under your vet’s supervision.
One thing to remember about using cough suppressants is that, they should be used selectively and only for short periods.
As mentioned in our page on Canine Coughing, coughing in dogs is a symptom of some underlying cause.
If we over-use suppressants to decrease the frequency and severity of the cough, we are doing the dog more harm than good, because diagnosis and treatment of the underlying cause may be delayed. Cough suppressants cannot actually treat the problem that is causing the cough.
Also, avoid using cough suppressants if your dog is suspected to have a bacterial infection.
For bacterial infections, productive cough (coughing up phlegm) is helpful as it brings up and clears out unwanted material from the airway. Instead of suppressants, you may want to use an expectorant.
Cough suppressants cannot actually treat the problem that is causing the cough.
A Natural Product of Cough Medicine for Dogs
If you prefer to go the natural way (which is advisable especially if you have a small puppy or older dog with a weak immune system), here is an effective natural product for canine cough called Throat Gold. This cough medicine contains all natural herbal ingredients effective for soothing cough and respiratory irritations:
Cough Medicine for Dogs – Home Remedies
If you don’t want to use any cough medicine at all, try some of these home remedies to help relieve your dog’s minor coughing:
Hydrogen Peroxide and Honey
There are quite a few anecdotal reports that claim that hydrogen peroxide and honey can help ease the dry, hacking coughing caused by kennel cough.
Add 3 drops of hydrogen peroxide (food grade) to a teaspoon of honey mixed into a large glass of water. Let your dog drink up the water as soon as possible.
Hydrogen peroxide loses its potency after a few hours in water, so you need to give your dog a fresh new bowl of honey water with hydrogen peroxide every few hours.
If you have raw honey or Manuka honey, try adding one teaspoon or so to a warm cup of water and give it to your dog.
Honey can soothe the throat and particularly Manuka honey has super antibacterial properties as well.
You may probably know this already but here’s a reminder: If you are getting Manuka honey (for your dog or yourself), be sure to get one that has an UMF (unique Manuka factor) of 15 or higher. UMF is a kind of grading system that ensures the quality and effectiveness of the honey. The higher the UMF, the more potent it is.
If your dog refuses to drink the honey water, use a medicine dropper and administer a few drops of the solution directly into his mouth every hour or so.
Vitamin C / Echinacea
Vitamin C boosts your dog’s immune system so he can recover faster from diseases. Try giving your dog a daily dose of vitamin C.
Dosage is 500 mg for bigger dogs and 250 mg for smaller dogs. An herbal tincture of echinacea can also be used to boost immunity.
If your dog has a dry cough, put a humidifier or vaporizer near his bed. This will help fill his airways with soothing moisture.
If you have essential oils, adding a few drops to the vaporizer can help ease the cough as well.
Some essential oils that are antibacterial and antiviral are particularly good for dog coughs caused by bacterial or viral infections (e.g. lavender, eucalyptus, and niaouli essential oils).