Coughing usually isn't too serious, but it can also be a sign of a bigger problem with your pet's health.
Coughing is very common during the winter months and can be due to many factors - it is important to seek your veterinarians opinion because sudden onset coughing can be the sign of a more serious problem.
During the winter months we often catch respiratory infections which cause us to cough and sneeze. Some of the viruses and bacteria which affect us have their counterparts in cats, dogs and other species that we keep as pets, but our pets do not seem to be as susceptible to infection during the winter months, and veterinarians do not see the seasonal epidemics of viral colds or flu that are so common in humans. Outbreaks of respiratory disease in large numbers of dogs or cats tend to occur during holiday periods (often during the summer) when pets go into boarding kennels or catteries and come into contact with other animals that pass on the infection.
So, if your pet does develop a cough it may well not be due to a simple respiratory tract infection. It could be the sign of more serious problems so you should seek veterinary advice as soon as possible.
There are numerous causes of coughing in cats and dogs, and some of the most common are:
- Foreign material entering the airways (food, drink).
- Inflammation - infections (eg kennel cough in dogs), smoke, chronic bronchitis.
- Compression of airways - heart disease, cancer.
- Collapse of airways - tracheal collapse in toy breeds of dog, laryngeal paralysis in older large dogs (eg retrievers).
- Excess mucus secretion.
- Trauma causing haemorrhage.
- Other causes of lung haemorrhage e.g. warfarin poisoning.
- Causes of fluid on the lung - eg acute cardiac failure.